Saturday, April 23, 2011

Baseball, Hockey Will Trend Down More and More as Years Pass By

It's very simple.  Not enough people are playing baseball and hockey.  These sports still remain strong among certain demographics, but the masses are not playing them.  For hockey, the masses have never been playing in the U.S. As for baseball, its popularity is hard to maintain because it is becoming more and more specialized.

Baseball's profile is down in the U.S.  Fans tune out when all they hear is technical jargon regarding, fast-balls, breaking balls, change-ups, ERA, slugging percentage, etc...  Not everyone can keep up, nor wants to keep up with strike zones, designated hitters, RBI's, on-base percentage, knuckle-balls and screwballs.  Baseball is not able to maintain what it used to have as far as nostalgia.  Pick-up games and stick-ball are chapters from the past.

It used to be that all those baseball statistics mattered and people kept scorecards to track the games. It is just not as important as it used to be.  The generations of people are changing and interests are evolving.  People don't have the time, energy and patience of past generations.

Baseball was a wonderful pastime.  Maybe, it could be again.  But, modern media technologies have sucked all the energy out of the sport by placing too much focus on all the different pitches and all the statistics.  There is too much information to know for such a slow-paced event. 

Baseball has overindulged itself.  It has expected modern sports fans to watch on television or attend stadiums seating 45,000 people for an average of 3 hours a day for more than half of every year.

Maybe there could be such high expectations if baseball was played by more people.

Certainly, kick-ball and softball have helped baseball.  Most Americans are familiar with kick-ball and its rules, which are similar to baseball, and played it growing up as little boys and girls.  Softball has always been popular for adults and is huge with girls.  But nowadays, too many people are not able to relate to the intricacies of pitching, catching and hitting and the strategies that accompany those skill sets. 

Basketball and Soccer are the opposite.  Just about everyone has shot a hoop or kicked a ball.  As a little boy or girl grows up in the U.S. now and for the last 40+ years, they have expended energy playing and learning basketball and Soccer because of the ease and convenience these two sports afford.

Research of sports consumption done in academic circles emphasizes aesthetics, drama, catharsis, entertainment, escape, social interaction, and vicarious achievement as some of the motives for why people watch sports.

It is vicarious achievement that will have the most impact in coming years as to why the support for baseball and hockey will wane in popularity.  How can one expect to have vicarious achievement if one is not familiar with the sport.  Kids can't just get a baseball or hockey game going on a whim, but they can for Soccer and basketball.  Both only require balls and for Soccer, goals can be set up with just about anything.

Baseball and hockey will have to lower expectations and figure out better parameters for making money.  They will have to make better determinations as to where their sports fit in the American spectrum of spectator sports.  They can't just expect to keep pushing profits higher and higher.  They have pinnacled and now its time to scale down their sports to find their proper fit with the American audience.

Hockey has always had the same identity problem over the years.  Its a regional sport.  Its beginnings as a sport are rooted in young kids gathering on frozen ponds in the winter to play.

And both hockey and baseball require a lot of equipment.  The equipment must fit and needs to be changed out as a youth grows.  The costs of maintaining the equipment can get expensive.  These costs place these sports out of reach for the masses.

Also, both sports are considered inherently dangerous.  The ball, bat, stick and puck are not always safe for players or spectators.  But, mostly it is the uniqueness of the equipment and the detail of the skill sets involved that are determining the slowdown in growth of these sports.  These are the niche sports; Hockey always has been one and baseball is becoming one.

Hockey and baseball are in many ways upper class sports, similar to tennis and golf and the skill sets learned are much more methodical to know.


  1. Most plagiarized thing I've ever read... literally exactly the same article on bleacher report.

    1. I'm the same author. I don't write for b/r anymore. Thanks for reading.