Baseball is still popular, let's get that straight right away. But the growing issue is that the sport is starting to wane a bit in the popularity department as with almost every game you watch on TV that's not an important or pivotal game for either team you'll see a lot of empty seats. This isn't too abnormal for an MLB game to be honest, but the likelihood of seeing a full set of bleachers outside of opening day and during games that are vital for each team you might see a ballpark that's only half-full, if that. Baseball has been taking a dive in the ratings and in the popularity contest among the various sports for a while now. While it's still one of the most recognized and beloved sports throughout the world, the love of the game isn't keeping it afloat nearly as much as it used to, and something needs to be done to turn people on to the idea that going to the ballpark to root on their favorite team with a drink in one hand and a hot dog in the other is a great idea. To be honest it sounds like a good idea right now.
Here are a few ways that the MLB could possibly start bringing back the fans and could improve the sport.
10. Fix the costs of going to the ballpark or perhaps offer various discounts per game on select items.
This feels like it's been done before, and it's likely been said many times before. The cost of a game can average out to around $200 or more to take one's family to a ballgame, and that's if you manage to get cheap seats and confine yourself to one drink and one item to eat per person. But how realistic is that? You're at the ballpark, you're going to eat, drink, and possibly buy something that will cost a bundle. If the MLB could stop hiking prices and even go so far as to think of discounts that would attract the fans they might see their revenue go up and their popularity soar at every ballpark.
9. Take it easy on the upsells.
This isn't entirely realistic but it's an idea all the same. In every business you try to get more out of the guest/customer in order to get them to spend as much as they can. It's a ruthless and sometimes very heartless way to make money since it banks on keeping them happy and distracted from the fact that they're breaking their bank account for something that offers them very little in return. Batting practice is a big expense that some ballparks manage to sell as a bargain but in truth is something that a lot of fans don't care as much about unless it's hyped up beyond belief.
8. It might be time to talk to the cable companies and offer a better incentive on the sports channels.
It's very true that this would be a much bigger undertaking since it's going outside the MLB, but it would be worthwhile since those fans that can't go to the ballpark still want to see the action. The only downfall of this is that they can't always do that unless they pay the package fee for channels they don't even watch just so they can get the one channel they want. Time to talk to the cable people and see if a better deal can be made.
7. The length of the games needs to be reworked in order to keep the fans interested.
The average game can take between 2 and 3 hours from start to finish depending on how quickly it goes and how the players react to one another and the game. While sports like soccer and football might get away with this it's usually because their action never stops and there's always so much to see on the field. In baseball the downfall is that the pitcher controls the tempo of the game, and if he's going to mess around then it's going to drag after a while.
6. The season seems to last forever, perhaps there's a better system that could be put into place?
This is more of a long haul option that probably would meet with a lot of hemming and hawing if it wasn't just ignored outright since the longer a season goes on the more money the MLB and everyone connected to it will make. Right? It makes sense that they want a long season as it hold with tradition and it gives them a lot more opportunities to squeeze more out of the fans. Shorter seasons however would be invaluable since fans would be loathe to miss a single game and attendance could very well shoot up.
5. It's gone from a lot of scoring, which was a problem, to not enough scoring, which is another problem.
You know why the NFL is so popular at this time? They score often enough to make it entertaining. Touchdowns aren't a rarity that people watch for so often in the hopes of seeing. The only issue is that when there was a lot of scoring in the MLB it was eventually found out that steroid use had become a big issue. But now that use of PED's is being widely penalized the scoring has gone way down in some cases and it's become rather boring. How to fix this one is still something of a mystery.
4. The fanbase isn't all that diversified. It might be time to find a way to appeal to younger viewers.
You might want to argue with this one and you're more than free to since it could depend on the region in which the games are being played and the individual fanbase of each team, but it would appear that a lot of baseball fans are white and older, meaning that the younger generations have declined in their love of the game. Again, argue this one freely since it seems as though the fanbase fluctuates from time to time when it comes to who follows the sport, but as of now it seems that the fanbase is becoming a little stale.
3. There are no stars that standout as there are in other sports. Following certain stars on the rise or established AllStars might be key.
Again, argue this one all you want and you might come up with a valid point. But in the NBA there's LeBron James, in the NFL there's Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, and so on and so forth. The MLB has its stars, but they're so muted in comparison to other sports that finding enough people that know about them outside of the sport is kind of a task in and of itself.
2. The sport simply needs more exposure.
How this happens or how those in charge go about it is hard to imagine since a lot of people know about baseball, they know it exists, but many of them don't care enough to really watch the game. If the MLB wants to gain the same kind of popularity as other sports it needs a better platform to stand on.
1. In the end if always comes down to money.
It's a business of course, as well as a sport. The players want to get paid but the fans don't want to get gouged. Perhaps it's time we start going back to the roots of the game and pay the players to PLAY, not act like mega superstars looking for a payday. This would be great in every sport where athletes are paid ridiculous amounts of money per year. We can't take money out of the equation, but simplifying and minimizing it would certainly help.
After all, isn't baseball all about the love of the game and wanting to play?
Written by Tom Foster
Read more posts by Tom Foster