As the ship sinks slowly in the west and the sun pulls away from the shore, we say goodbye to the beautiful islands. Viewership for baseball, the sport formerly known as America’s game, is down 9 percent from last year which was a disaster. Fox executives will visit Commissioner Selig high atop a 2 story Shell Station in beautiful downtown Milwaukee in an attempt to figure out what the problem might be.
Logic tells us that when the economy is in the dumper, more people should be saying home watching the games from their couches. The people are staying home. They’re just not watching baseball. The problem is that those that have the responsibility for marketing the game couldn’t sell you a fire extinguisher if the cuffs of your pants were blazing.
The game is what it is. It by nature is a slow game played over a 20 year season, or so it seems. The future of any sports league is the young. Baseball and hockey have all but abandoned marketing to those under 30.
When I was a kid, Ben Franklin, George Washington and I used to go out with our friends and play baseball everyday during the summer. Kids today don’t do that. They play video games. MLB has ignored the technology that other leagues have used to widen their popularity particularly with the young. So what can the MLB do to improve the marketing of their product?
Get serious about steroids. Too many fans feel cheated by the fact that so many players have been found to have used drugs. Get a handle on the problem and stop the death by a thousand cuts that the sport has been suffering.
Do more on the Internet. The key to getting the attention of anyone under 30 is the Internet.
Push the stars particularly young stars. The success of the NBA to gather young fans has been the promotion of Kobe, Lebron, and others. Baseball has never really pushed their younger stars. The only time we hear about their stars is when another one has tested positive for steroids.
Do things for the kids. Moving the World Series games to an earlier start time will help. But play some afternoon games on the weekends. Make families feel wanted by having free kids day with a paid adult. Many teams are not selling out anyway. Fill the stands with kids on the weekends and special days during the season. If you get them wanting to come, you will get the parents. It has worked for McDonalds and it will work for baseball as well.
With the mindset of baseball, we will probably find out that Fox has decided to use their puck on fire technology for the baseball.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .