Kelly Scott Madison

Sports Corner: Tapping into the next era of baseball

11/16/2016

 

The face of this sport hasn't changed as quickly as others over the past few decades. So what are league officials doing to try attracting and retaining a younger crowd?

Baseball, a sport full of longstanding traditions, has been plagued by an aging fan base. According to ESPN, it currently has the oldest fan base among mainstream professional sports, with the median age of a fan pegged at 53 years old. In comparison, the median age for the NFL is 47 years old, and 37 years old for the NBA, which has managed to keep its audience age stagnant.

Not only does the MLB have the oldest fans, but this number continues to get older as the years go by. According to Nielsen ratings, 50 percent of baseball viewers are 55 or older, up 41 percent from 10 years ago.

“If baseball does nothing, they’ll probably stay flat for another 10 years,” Rich Luker, a psychologist and sports researcher who has run ESPN’s polling for two decades, told the Washington Post in a recent interview. “But 20 years from now, they’ll be moving to a secondary position in American life, doomed to irrelevance like Tower Records or Blockbuster Video.”

Some point to the decline in Little League participation as a cause, since those who are less likely to go to games as a kid are also less likely to attend as adults. A poll conducted by the MLB supports this, with 70 percent of fans, 12 to 17 years old, citing “playing the sport” as a big factor in building their interest for watching and attending a sporting event.

Other likely factors contributing to the decline in adolescence interest include...


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