Is baseball no longer America’s pastime? Why does it seem that this traditional American sport is losing more and more popularity by the year? The sport originated before the Civil War, and the first league was created in 1876. It is a classic. I have certainly loved every second of playing baseball when I was younger and I know many feel the same way. It is a sad reality to see a possible decline of the sport but why is this in the first place? Why does it seem like this respectable sport cannot keep up with professional football, basketball or even hockey in regard to television ratings? Attendance is down for 18 ball clubs, and television ratings for several networks like Fox and ESPN are at lows. Can this correlation be explained using science?
Attendance decline since 2007 around the same time the first iPhone was released
We live in a fast-paced internet world. Information and highlights are viewed and shared at the click of the mouse, or touch of a screen. It seems logical that a faced-paced internet generation led by video games and twitter would more likely enjoy faced paced action packed sports like football and basketball, right? Attention spans are rapidly decreasing and this is not fairing to the slow, more thought out game of baseball. This definitely seems to be showing as ratings and attendance take a hit for the sport. The Huffington Post shared an eye-opening statistic about the MLB, 50 percent of baseball viewers are 50 or older. This speaks volumes to the younger generation maybe giving a hint into the attention span claim.
Attention Span Study
Perhaps the most talked about and impressive study on attention span was done by Microsoft which stated human attention spans had dropped from 12 seconds in 2000, to 8 seconds. The news grabbing headline for this study was that this proclaimed the human attention span is less than that of a goldfish. The trial surveyed 2,000 Canadian participants in an observational study, and scanned the brains of 112 of them to conclude the attention span decline over the decade. The recent excessive smart phone use seemed to be the clear culprit. The survey showed signs of constantly checking social media created a lack of focus as 19% of tech users switch to the next task or new thing within 10 seconds. According to the study, since there is so many opportunities to find rewarding information on the internet or on a social media site, the users are constantly searching for that release of dopamine which is a neurotransmitter for a good feeling in the brain. Something Is definitely going on here but does it relate to our initial question?
Does this correlate? It’s no wonder the slow-moving strategic sport of baseball is losing interest. How can a game of waiting and long observation, connect to a generation raised on information given to them in an instant? It seems for the ones who aren’t patient enough there will never be a solution. It is highly unlikely for baseball to tweak its rules or play style to accommodate a new generation. Will the sport survive?
Will it Survive?
Even though it seems like the attention span is a direct correlation to the recent lessened popularity of baseball, there are so many third variables needing to be considered in this observation. Correlation does not always equal causation, and while it is very probable that the lowered attention spans due to social media and technology (courtesy of the Microsoft Study) contribute to the decrease ratings, youth involvement in the sport, etc., it’s not the only thing to blame. Many things like a select few MLB power houses, bad televised matchups, and the rise of other new televised events all can create a seeming decline. We also have to take into account that all professional sports experience high and lows (the baseball ratings now are beating those from the 80s). Even though it seems like baseball is in worse shape, I think the sport will definitely have a place even with this new more distracted generation.