Baseball (AKA America’s Pastime) over recent years had begun to become a bit less popular. Seats were being left unfilled and TV ratings were trending down. The sport was essentially fading especially after the COVID-19 Pandemic. Oh, how things could change just like that though…
America’s Pastime Is Back With Vengeance
From 1876, America and its people have been fascinated and lives were intertwined with baseball. Baseball was beloved, it was second to none. A baseball game, a hot dog, and a beer were part of American Culture.
But as the years rolled on, leagues such as the NFL, NBA, and NHL have also grown. The NFL took over as the most popular sport amongst Americans. They’re sitting at 17.1 and 16.7 million viewers for the regular season over the last two years. All while baseball and the MLB slipped. Today’s baseball stars were not household names compared to football or even basketball stars.
The attendance numbers for MLB from 2012 through 2022 (minus 2020 COVID-19 Year) has gone down. The average attendance per game dropped over that time from 30,806 to 26,566. Viewership numbers followed suit. The game was deemed “boring” by the casual fans.
Sometimes Change Is Good
In recent years and largely to start 2023, commissioner Rob Manfred and MLB had made big changes to the game. With rule changes and additions such as a shift ban, pitch clock, and bigger bases, the dynamic of the game changed a bit and the pace of play has been sped up drastically.
More action on each pitch, less downtime, and less so-called “wasted” time for the viewers. Helping make the game more enjoyable for the average person, bringing attendance and TV viewership numbers sky-high.
The league has become dynamic and ever-changing. New players and new championship-contending teams each year have helped. Teams like the Cincinnati Reds, Arizona Diamondbacks, Baltimore Orioles, and Texas Rangers making playoff pushes has helped energize fan bases that have been left to dream of good times for a few years now.
The proof is in the numbers. Overall the average game attendance stands at 29,120 currently which is about a 10% increase so far in one season. Viewership numbers are also increasing by about 11% for the regular season. 2023 Opening Day viewership was up as much as 10% to 42% on certain platforms.
Superstars Growing The Game
MLB has become loaded with young stars and superstars. The influx of young players has been a breath of fresh air. This has been a driving point for the young fans/kids interested in the game. Having these energetic, electric, and captivating stars are key to growth.
Players like Aaron Judge chasing down the American League Home Run record in 2022, Ronald Acuña Jr. and his historic 2023 season, Adley Rutschman, Corbin Carroll, Julio Rodríguez, Elly De La Cruz, and the unicorn that is Shohei Ohtani.
The game is littered with excitement, energy, and light that had previously been dimmed. The average age of baseball fans in 2017 was about 57 years old. That was the highest of any of the major sports. But the numbers are starting to even back out.
The younger kids and young adults are finding themselves back into baseball. Recently, MLB had the most attendees between the ages of 12-17 per attendance number per each franchise.
So, baseball never really left, the fans were still there, but the feel, and energy that has come rushing back is special. More and more people are talking about baseball again. The game has all the tools to continue to build off of these things and to continue to prove their point of being America’s Pastime, but also be both America’s and the rest of the World’s future.
Main Image: Albert Cesare/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK