When examining the poll more in-depth, the problem baseball has becomes both more apparent — and even scarier. A mere 7% of those under the age of 30 say baseball is their favorite sport. This ranked fifth behind football (24%), 농구 (17%), “다른 것” (12%) and soccer (10%).
To put baseball’s overall
11% in perspective
, there were many more fans of baseball the last time there was a work stoppage in
1994. In an average of Gallup polls that year
, 19% of Americans said baseball was their favorite sport
동안 1994 baseball strike may have hurt the sport’s popularity, the truth is baseball had been on the decline for a while. Baseball hadn’t ranked as America’s favorite sport to watch since 1960, 언제 34% 그것은 말했다. Soccer that year came in at less than 0.5%, while football picked up 21% 지원하다. By the next poll Gallup did on the subject in 1972, baseball was second to football.
The rise of TV
The fact that 1960 is the last time baseball reigned supreme is notable. The sports landscape has changed dramatically from 62 여러 해 전에.
One big reason baseball no longer finds itself the darling of American sports is competition and the dawn of the television age.
The NFL didn’t sign its first league-wide TV contract ...까지 1962
; it led to every game being on television and each team receiving a share of the revenue pie
. This came around the same time that the AFL
— a rival league which would eventually merge with the NFL
— started play and signed its own league-wide TV deal
After this point, this meant that over 20 teams had their contests televised, and the country had universal access to the pro game. 추가로, the Super Bowl would begin in 1967. NFL, 물론이야, is a sport that benefits tremendously from being seen. 야구, 반면에, doesn’t gain as much going from radio to television.
Another sport which is better visually than audibly is basketball
. The NBA was less than
15 살이에요 에 1960
. 있었다 just eight NBA teams at that point
— half the size of either professional baseball or football
. The NBA Finals wouldn’t be aired in their entirety nationally until
The country was years away from a successful professional soccer league in 1960 — let alone the incarnation of the MLS. 지금, a soccer fan can watch games from here and those across the Atlantic Ocean — the English Premier League and the UEFA Champions League, 예를 들면 — with ease.
As for other sports
, there were only six NHL teams compared to the
32 오늘. And the idea of competitive video gaming was a science fiction fantasy and not at all conceivable
The increased competition and the use of screens to watch sports came at an inopportune time for baseball.
If bored, Americans can change the channel very quickly. On social media platforms like TikTok, things go by faster than a bullet train. Baseball is anything but fast as far as Americans are concerned.
Check out this 2007 Gallup poll when people who weren’t pro baseball fans were asked why they didn’t like the sport
. The two top reasons given were boring/uninteresting
(31%) and games being too slow/too long
When you look at the data from actual games, you get why people might think the sport is either too boring or too slow.
Balls being put into play have shrunk dramatically
, and the strikeout rate has skyrocketed
. 약 100 여러 해 전에, there were well more than twice as many hits than strikeouts in baseball
. 에 1960
, 있었다 1.7 times as many hits than strikeouts
, there were nearly
3,000 more strikeouts than hits
In most sports besides baseball or football, the game is constantly in action. Unlike in baseball, there’s a real rhythm to when each football play starts up with a moving game and play clock.
, baseball fans need to sit through a game which is taking longer and longer to finish
. 그만큼 length of the average a nine-inning game has gone from two hours and
33 분 1960 to three hours and
10 분 2021. Compare this with a soccer match
, 가지고 있는 90 minutes of play
, a 15-minute halftime and some stoppage time
— usually two to four minutes
추가로, there simply isn’t a sport that requires someone to sit through more minutes with so little action — so often. While NFL game lengths are similar, remember that an MLB team has 162 regular season games per year. The NFL has just 17.
혹시, people might be more willing to sit through long games if they cared about the players. Many people have pointed out the fact that baseball doesn’t have any “별” as a reason why the sport has struggled.
In an era in which fans are increasingly rooting for players over teams, this could be a big problem.
One way we can look at this is through the number of Instagram followers the top athletes in baseball, basketball and football have.
— arguably the best MLB player of the last
50 years alone
— 있다 only about two million followers
. This trails NFL star Odell Beckham Jr
. and his more than 15 백만 팔로워
. It’s well behind NBA great LeBron James
, 누가 가지고 위에 100 백만 팔로워
. International soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo has 위에 420 백만 팔로워
, though many of those are outside the United States
The inability to be big on social media is just one reason that baseball is likely struggling with today’s youth.
Beyond social media, there was a time when the greatest baseball stars were household names. Consider a 1945 poll from Gallup asking Americans whether they knew who different stars across various industries were.
이상 90% said they knew who former baseball star Babe Ruth was. The vast majority — 90% of all Americans — not only knew who he was but were able to give a description of what he was famous for. 명심하십시오, this poll was taken 10 years after Ruth last suited up to play professional baseball.
Ruth was better known at the time than World War II General George Patton. The same percentage of Americans knew who Ruth was as they did future president and five-star General Dwight Eisenhower, who had just helped lead the Americans to victory in Europe.
Modern polling indicates that there isn’t any modern baseball player who is anywhere near the level of recognition of Ruth. 사실로, some data indicates that less than half of Americans even know who Trout is.
The lack of star power just isn’t the case in basketball or football. You have stars like James and the recently retired Tom Brady, who have Ruth-level name identification among the American public. Both sports, 당연히, have many more athletes known by at least 50% of the public than baseball.
Is there anything baseball can do to reverse the tide? 모르겠어요.
Perhaps the better question to ask at this point is whether baseball is merely trading on its legacy. As the Greatest Generation — 즉. my father’s — fades into the memory books, it seems quite plausible that baseball’s spot in the top 2 또는 3 favorite sports in America may fade along with it.