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Kids Aren’t Watching Baseball Anymore

Yankee Stadium
(Photo by Louis Requena/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
The Wall Street Journal had some pretty eye-opening stats about our national pastime and the number of young people who are watching its premier games. The average age of a viewer watching the World Series is 54.4, up from 49.9 just four years ago. Overall viewing for the World Series is up from last year, but kids age 6-17 make up just 4.3% of the audience, down from 7.4% ten years ago.

The ironic part, to me, is that there are more games available to be watched than ever before. Virtually every team broadcasts both home and away games, Fox still broadcasts a national game of the week on Saturdays, and packages are available from MLB.com, DirecTV, and others that allow you to watch virtually every game that’s played. When I was young, admittedly a long time ago, baseball games on TV were hard to come by; virtually no club broadcast their home games for fear of hurting attendance, so if the team that played in your area had a home stand, you could easily go a week with no games to watch.

I looked forward to Curt Gowdy, Tony Kubek, and Joe Garagiola and the NBC Game of the Week, even though I knew I would be watching a team from New York, Los Angeles, or both. That was my baseball fix for the week. Now I subscribe to the MLB package and can watch any game any time, but I don’t have the same anticipation that I did back then.

The Wall Street Journal article has some good suggestions on how baseball can get some of those younger eyeballs back by speeding up the game, but the battle may already have been lost: participation in Little League has dropped from 2.6 million in ’97 to 2.1 million last year.

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