Keeping America’s Pastime out of the Past
Three years after the Boston Red Sox won the 2007 World Series, breaking “the curse of the Bambino,” Major League Baseball (MLB) has seen a decrease across the board in terms of viewership, attendance, and several other areas. Baseball has gotten a public image as the boring, slow game that dads watch. There’s nothing in it like Stephen Curry crossing someone over, pulling up and hitting a long three or Cam Newton celebrating after scoring a touchdown, but this is because the games unwritten rules don't allow so.
In game five of the American League division series last year, Toronto Blue Jay, Jose Bautista, launched a go-ahead three run home run in the seventh inning and immediately threw his bat in the air to celebrate in epic fashion. This bat-flip is what got the conversation about baseball’s tiredness going, as there were a lot of different viewpoints on the flip in the next few days. The swing was shown again and again on all major forms of social media such as Twitter, Instagram, and Vine, and while the younger crowd of fans couldn't get enough of it, the older generation didn't approve.
This past weekend, around the country, hundreds of thousands of fans flocked to the nearest ballpark to celebrate MLB's Opening Day. In many cities with professional teams, the streets by the stadiums were filled with fans engaged in some sort of parade or celebration for the return of the baseball season. While baseball is on a decline in popularity in the United States, fans will always show support for their team on Opening Day. Opening Day hashtags were spread on an astonishing 7.2 million Twitter users’ timelines this past weekend. However, as this seasons Opening Day turnout may show otherwise, declines in the baseball market have been seen the National Football League raking in $9.5 billion per year as opposed to the MLB's $7.8 in revenue. As well, the viewership of Saturday games in the MLB was around 3.348 million viewers in 2006, while in 2015, Saturday viewership dropped to under 2 million viewers (at about 1.9 million).
With the hit that baseball has taken recently, this season needs to show signs of resurgence to bring America's pastime out of the past. 23-year-old, Washington Nationals star, Bryce Harper, wasted no time in getting similar feelings towards America’s pastime out. He made headlines following their opening day game, not because of the homerun Harper had hit earlier, but because of the “Make Baseball Fun Again!” hat he had dawned after. This is two weeks after a cover story in ESPN Magazine ran in which Harper said, "Baseball's tired,” referring to baseball’s lack of expression, mainly because of the “unwritten rules” mentioned earlier.
Though there are a lot of people out there who don’t want to see bat flips and celebrations in baseball, there’s a remarkably talented young group of players breaking into MLB with energy to change that. Soon enough, players may be able to celebrate a clutch home run without a fear of getting thrown at in their next at-bat. The time is now for baseball to change both itself and its public image. With up-and-coming young players who will become the next face of the sport, 23 year old, already superstar, Bryce Harper, leading the way, baseball can me made fun again, keeping America’s favorite pastime out of the past.
With tools the MLB should be taking advantage of, such as their Opening Day popularity on Twitter, their support through other popular social media applications, such as Snapchat honoring Opening Day with their special filters, and their contracted talent lobbying for support of the league and the sport, baseball could very likely grow in popularity again this season. Activ8 Media offers services that would be advisable to MLB in their current situation such as brand activation and consulting, talent management, and social media administration.
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