You may have heard this before: baseball is dying.
It’s not. Shohei Ohtani of the Angels is perhaps the most intriguing athlete in the world. Baseball games offer top-notch primetime programming in just about every city in the major leagues. The intensity of this month’s World Baseball Classic and the introduction of new rules designed to be athletic and pick up the pace should spark even more interest. And a dying industry isn’t generating record revenue, as Major League Baseball did last year.
In recent weeks, you may have heard “baseball dies” cries from an unlikely source: the owners of several major league teams, who called MLB “an industry in crisis” in which “the vast majority of players, agents and clubs dislike baseball’s economic system.” One owner suggested that his team had not issued any free agents last winter because his up-and-coming team had “overdone” last summer.
Hey fans, get your tickets now!
Seriously, hire Curtis Granderson to do all the talking and help come up with the big ideas. Granderson told me five years ago how baseball failed to develop fans across the country, in part because the league hadn’t given Mike Trout the opportunity to play where fans can see him. This year, Trout and Ohtani and all the Angels will play against each team.
All of today’s best players will perform in your city once every two years, not once every six years. And you’ll actually see them play – none of this “load management” nonsense where NBA teams charge hundreds of dollars and then Anthony Davis or Kawhi Leonard or (insert star here) takes a rest day in his team’s only appearance in your city that season.
If the bummer’s owners can stay out of the way, baseball could be able to thrive, according to the results of an Ipsos survey released Thursday. After years of talking about how baseball is dying, and how the NBA has surpassed MLB in popularity, and how young people prefer so many other sports, and how football is the next big thing, the poll results tell a different story.
In January — that is, during the NFL, NBA and NHL seasons but in dead time for MLB — Ipsos surveyed 1,035 American adults and asked if they were fans of 13 sports. You can be a fan of as little or as much sports as you want.
The NFL, of course, led with 44% of respondents saying they were fans of the NFL. In second place: baseball at 31%, followed by college football at 29%, the NBA at 24%, and college basketball at 23%.
Baseball declined in popularity from the 55+ age group (38%) to the 18-34 age group (23%). So was the NFL (49% to 35%).
In the 18-34 age group, baseball still ranks second, tied with the NBA at 23%, closely followed by college football at 22% and college basketball at 20%. Football came next at 16%, although Ipsos vice president Mallory Newall said the differences between all those sports were not statistically significant given the margin of error.
In the 35-54 age group, the NFL led at 46%, followed by baseball at 31%.
In the overall ranking, hockey finished fifth with 18% and football sixth with 17%. Football did not exceed 20% in any of the three demographic breakdowns.