The Future of Baseball

Minute Maid Park, Houston, 2010.

Will today’s generation of young kids feel as sentimental over Minute Maid Park in twenty years as some of us do now about the Astrodome, Colt Stadium, and Buff Stadium?  It’s hard to say, but I like to hope that they probably will. It all depends upon how much emotional investment they now make in baseball from around age 8 to about 12 in going to the ballpark for a baseball game – and how connected they are to baseball as a big part of their everyday childhood experience.

As kid sandlot and early Little League players, our post WWII generation lived, breathed, ate, and drank baseball. I’m not sure today’s kids have that kind of experiences because of their high-tech distractions and the extra controls they get from many families that basically sleep in their houses without forming any attachment to neighborhood. Back then, a house was a home, and homes connected in neighborhoods to form communities, and Houston Buffs baseball was a big part of our shared communal experience. Today that doesn’t seem to be quite the same case.

Some of us back then read the sports pages daily and The Sporting News weekly. We knew the daily lineups for all sixteen major league teams, plus their pitching rotations. Of course, those of us who lived in minor league cities, as Houston was then, also knew our local club’s stats and those of our league rivals. Then again, our interests were not in competition with Play Station, Game Boy, The Internet, and cell phones. Man! When I think of what we could have done with the Internet to stay abreast of all the baseball news, it makes my head swim.

So, when we older ones look back, we can see the saturation of our investment in baseball as kids. Is there any reason to think that we are raising a generation of kids who will also want to follow the game daily and also go to the ballpark on a regular basis? What do you think? In my view, anything short of affirmative answers here means big problems to come for baseball over the next two decades.

Who knows? Maybe we’re just raising kids who sort of watch baseball with us on HDTV while they are moving around the house, multi-tasking other things.

Your opinion counts here. Please share it. Are we raising baseball fans – or not?

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4 Responses to “The Future of Baseball”

  1. Bob Hulsey Says:

    Perhaps more than what you’ve mentioned, I fear appreciation for the sport itself wanes because of its pace and nuance. The game of baseball tends to plod along with few moments of excitement but, to those who watch closely, there is a lot of strategy and intrigue going on which is often lost on the casual or distracted fan. Without seeing those nuances, the game can seem a giant bore.

    Contrast that with the newest blockbuster attraction – the UFC – where fans are treated to non-stop violence punctuated by interviews. To someone who wants raw entertainment, the UFC offers more to the eye. It’s the brain that makes baseball interesting to follow and there’s little brainpower required to follow UFC.

    We’ve become a “microwave” society of instant gratification and short attention spans which becomes distracted too easily. It doesn’t fit a pasttime where it may take 15 minutes to get a runner home from first and three hours to complete an entire game – unless you are mentally involved in what you are watching.

    We’ve seen attempts to shorten the game which have ultimately cheapened it and somewhere baseball has to admit that its most popular recent times were caused when players pumped themselves with artificial stimulants.

    I’d love to see baseball return to its roots but it isn’t going to happen. The sport will need to adapt to stay relevant. One thing it does have in its favor, though, is that it is a muli-cultural sport long before the term was co-opted. The new America is increasingly Hispanic and Asian and baseball already attracts fans and players from each demographic.

  2. Bob Dorrill Says:

    I’m afraid you are exactly correct. The same applies to SABR. 10 years ago the average age of a SABR member was 47, today the average age is 57. Our chapter is no different. With the exception of Zach and Mark W. the rest of us are middle aged or beyond. For whatever reason, kids today don’t seem to share the passion for the game we did.

  3. David Munger Says:

    Bill-I have asked probably 20 school aged kids over the last few years
    if they play baseball…….the answer……IT’S TOO HOT OUTSIDE TO PLAY
    BASEBALL….sad but TRUE.

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