Friday, July 29, 2011

America's Sports Pastimes

Many of you know that I am a huge baseball fan, and I will defend the sport until the day I die.  Unfortunately, I am often in the minority when it comes to my passion for baseball.  Apparently, America's pastime has switched to football.  While I am not a football hater, I do not share the same passion and excitement over the sport as others do.  But I believe that there are many others out there who love baseball as much as I do, and I think I know the reasons why football has passed baseball on the pastime-meter.

I do have to applaud football for positioning itself in the minds of Americans as the end all and be all of American sports.  They have done an excellent marketing job.  And football does have one thing going for it that baseball can't compete with.  They only play games once a week, on a day when most people are off work.  Therefore, football is inherently a more social sport.  People get together for parties, bbq's, tailgates, etc., once a week to watch football.  People schedule their plans around football games.  Baseball plays games every day, so if you miss one, you can always watch again tomorrow.  And people are less likely to organize baseball watching parties.  It just doesn't have the same TV appeal.  I hear most people say they can only watch baseball live.  I can appreciate that, and I've seen a lot of packed stadiums that support that claim.  Also, the football season is shorter and the outcome of one game means more than it does in baseball.  Therefore, people hang on the outcomes of game more intensely while watching football than baseball.  Finally, fantasy football has taken on a life of its own.  I play fantasy football, mostly because it helps keep me interested in games.  But for many people, fantasy football is huge time-consuming endeavor.  With the advent of keeper leagues, live drafts, etc., fantasy football has driven the media to attempt to keep up with the craze.  NFL Tonight airs year round, the only sports specific show on ESPN to do so.  Why is that?  Fantasy leagues, of course.  People want to know about their fantasy players.  One bad week, one bad draft in a fantasy football league can destroy your chances at winning.  Whereas, the stakes for fantasy baseball aren't nearly as drastic.  Although, I would like to point out right here that the fantasy sports revolution did begin with a fantasy baseball league. 

So, what does this all mean?  Nothing really, except that football has done a better job marketing itself than baseball.  Football is perceived as being more popular because they get bigger crowds and better TV ratings.  But that's all relative.  Football stadiums are bigger than baseball stadiums, so the per game averages will always be bigger.  Football games are only played once a week so everybody watches on that one day, as opposed to baseball where people can watch on any given day.  So looking at TV ratings is meaningless.  The bottom line is people will like what they like and watch what they watch.  And I will continue to get mad at ESPN for their obsessive amount of football coverage, even though I fully understand why they do it.  They think it's what people want, and most people think it's what they want to see as well.  So I will continue to live in my baseball obsessed world, and be a casual football watcher.  Go Phillies!  And Go Eagles!

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