PSO: Why is Baseball A Dying Sport?


Once the most popular sport in the country, America’s pastime is becoming just that, a thing of the past.  Baseball is a dying game and it has been for a while now.  The question is, of course, why is an entire sport slowly dying out.  The answers are both simple and complicated.

The biggest issue is that the way baseball is played just isn’t appealing to the general public anymore.  In an era where any and all information, videos, movies, games, and more are available at the push of a button, the slow paced, often boring style of baseball is often completely uninteresting.  Not every pitch is put in play, some at bats go for over twenty pitches, and it often takes at least half a minute for one pitch to be thrown.  Even baseball fans have a difficult time sitting through an nine-inning or more game. 

The inning system is becoming a problem, too.  The lack of a game clock means the game just goes until it ends.  In 1984, the White Sox and the Brewers played a whopping twenty-five innings, a ridiculous number and almost three times the “standard” length of a game.  It went on for so long the game had to be paused and resumed the next day.  This is absurd.  How is any fan, casual or dedicated, supposed to sit through that?  The pacing of baseball is simply too slow and and at times painful to watch.  Sports like football and basketball have remained incredibly popular because they maintain a relatively quick pace, even though football can have long pauses between action.  Not every baseball game has so much as an extra base hit, and it’s simply not exciting.

It is common knowledge to most sports fans that baseball viewership is also declining greatly, most likely due to the reasons above.  In 1991, the World Series had roughly thirty five million and a half viewers, while in 2019 it netted just under fourteen million views.  Meanwhile, the Super Bowl of that year (2019) drew 98.2 million viewers.  The NBA is growing rapidly and the NFL remains the king of American sports.  They are attracting new and younger viewers, primarily basketball while the fans of the MLB are getting older.  According to Front Office Sports, the average age of an MLB fan is 57.

Baseball transactions are also convoluted and hard to follow.  You have to be able to understand service years, arbitration, ten year contracts that can be opted out of after three years, the list goes on.  The owners remain a problem too, as many of baseball’s owners are more than content to spend as little as possible to fill out their roster in order to squeeze out as much money from their fanbase and TV deals as they can.  They also can’t ever seem to agree with the players, as talk of labor disputes are constant and right now Major League Baseball is in the midst of a lockout, meaning halting all baseball operations in the middle of free agency.  I’m sure you can see where that’s a problem.  In the middle of virtually the only exciting part of the baseball offseason, everything stops.

There are some solutions to the MLB’s problems.  One of which would be to install a salary floor.  This ensures that the owners would have to spend an agreed upon amount every year on their roster so that that roster has some level of competition.  Right now, Mike Trout makes almost as much per year as some entire club rosters make.

A radical idea that might bring big results would be a league reduction and relocation.  Move a team like Oakland out of California where there are already a dozen other sports teams, and move them to a city that actually wants them, like Portland.  Or just buy out some of the terrible owners in the league and retire certain teams that haven’t been good in forever to increase overall league roster talent.

Something the MLB must do is start promoting their players like the NBA and NFL do.  Does anyone remember who won the MVP or Cy Young winner from the last decade?  But I bet you can name an NBA or NFL MVP from the last five years.  Most casual fans know a few guys who play for their team and some of the huge names like Mike Trout or Shohei Ohtani.  But most people who don’t actively watch baseball probably can’t tell you who Max Scherzer or Jacob DeGrom is.  Not promoting your league outside of a few World Series commercials on ESPN is a serious problem.

So is baseball dying?  Yes it is.  It’s a sport from another era for people who had different interests and attention spans.  Is it too late to save it through changes to gameplay and league set up?  No.  But with an average fan age that borders on being a senior citizen and many owners who don’t seem to care about anything other than their money, time is quickly running out for the MLB.