I wrote a three-part series earlier this year outlining my opinion on what baseball needs to do to increase its popularity. In the first part I explored attendance figure and concluded that totals have held pretty steady. Well forget the numbers. If you open a newspaper, go online, or flip on the television it seems doomsdayers are pointing to the fans’ complete abandonment of baseball. They will show you pictures of empty ball parks. They will pick and choose teams, citing all-time lows in attendance. They will pull out the smoke and mirrors, and they may even ask Chris Angel to freak your mind.
The fact is, as pointed out in a completely unrelated Sports Illustrated article, average attendance league-wide is down just 14 fans. 14! Since last year how many more people have lost jobs? How many have taken pay cuts? And baseball has only lost an average of 14 fans per game.
If we were to just look at the teams struggling in attendance, of course we will see a problem. But what about the other teams? What about Pittsburgh who, until last month, was drawing more fans on average than they have in a decade. They’ve had more sell-outs this season than they have since the 90’s. What about San Francisco? As of August 10th they had sold out 60 consecutive home games. What about Boston? You’d have to damn near hit the lottery to afford a scalped ticket to the constantly sold-out Fenway Park. How about St. Louis or Minnesota? Or the Angels and Rangers?
It’s popular to believe baseball is dying. It’s trendy to throw certain teams’ attendance figures around as proof of the sport’s decline. But popularity and trends are rarely built on honest fact. Think for yourself, do the research, and know that while it’s not the most popular sport, baseball is surviving a terrible economy just fine.