SABR Not Attracting Young People

Who am I?
(a) Civil War Sec. of War Edwin Stanton?
(b) SABR Member John Doe?
(c) Yankee Reliever Mike Stanton?

 

My dear St. Thomas fellow writer friend, Rob Sangster, sent me this link to an article that appeared yesterday in the July 30, 2017 New York Times. It was called “Baseball’s Analytics Society Sees a Problem: Avg. Age, Members” and the writer was fellow named Filip Bondy. It proved to be yet another valid take on news that goes way beyond baseball – and that is, that younger Americans, and I would add Millennial age people to the foreground of that growing face of change, are no longer interested in many cultural pursuits that still captivate their aging grandparents.

SABR, indeed, is a perfect demographic example of the issue.

SABR (THE SOCIETY FOR AMERICAN BASEBALL RESEARCH) was the brainchild of L. Robert Davids, who on August 10, 1971, gathered 15 other baseball researchers at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, to form the organization. The 2017 annual SABR convention, in fact, is now underway through tomorrow,  June 28-July 2), and that’s undoubtedly inspired the timely Times piece. I’m guessing the convention may have hosted 8-10% of its total 5800 person membership in New York and that most attendees were older than the just-under-60 average age – and that most were male – and that all possessed at least one ready-to-wear cap and/or jersey from his favorite team and that he had gray hair with a probable gray beard to match.

Going to a small group SABR discussion in July, especially if the AC is not working, can invite fantasized memories of what it must have been like to attend a Lincoln cabinet meeting at the White House during the summers of 1862, 1863, 0r 1864. I recall going to a SABR meeting in Houston on summer night, some time in the past four years, and sitting near a fellow whose face and facial hair reminded me so much of Lincoln’s Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, that I just couldn’t resist dropping a harmless goodbye line on him at meeting’s end.

“Goodnight, friend! – And please say hello to the President for me when you get home! – Will you please?'”

I then explained what I said and he got it. He even knew who Edwin Stanton was. And he probably also knew that Stanton had never had a time at bat in any early 19th century base ball game either. I should have checked him out for his depth of peripheral knowledge about the early history of the game. Maybe next time. When Lincoln doesn’t need him home so much and will allow him to borrow the SABR time warp passage key.

Hope you get where I’m going with this seems to be – meandering set of observations. The SABR mind leaves no stone unturned. Although some younger people might argue the nuance of irony that “the SABR mind leaves no thought unstoned” as their own sober review of us.

In case you’re wondering, I am neither stoned now – nor do I ever get stoned. I simply enjoy a playful mind at a time in my life in which I’ve come to realize certain truths. To me, it is more important that our children survive in ways that are important to them than it is to keep alive commitments that are important to us. As long as they can grow in their capacities for giving others, including those who come after them in age, the right to be different from them too, things should work out for our kids. And for baseball too.

Baseball will always be bigger than SABR, no matter how many ways some of our members create to measure the game’s productivity. SABR was never placed here as the answer to what’s missing from baseball. Maybe nothing is missing. Maybe all some people are doing is what egos always try to do. That is – to put their own marks on the face of the game. The game doesn’t need to be shorter. And it probably will not get much longer. We need to stop and simply ask ourselves: What is it I get out of baseball that fills my life so sweetly? Or completely? Or Whatever?

Give any subject the right question – and chances go way up that you may find the truth in ways that were never before available.

Along that line, we have made some terrific progress in the way we frame fresh starts over the past sixty years. When I finished undergraduate school in 1960, for example, it was all about going for the answers in life that would guarantee a complete journey to the land of “happily ever after.”

So much for that one.

There now seem to be more of us who’ve come to realize over time, through our own sometimes painful experience, that it’s more important to get the right questions about living in peace and love today, each day, moment to moment, in the here and now, one breath of life at a time.

Give it a try. Ask the questions of yourself. For yourself: If I am spending this much of my life engaged in so many ways with baseball, what am I getting out of it? Really?

And then maybe it will begin to make sense why many of the much younger population feels little attraction to SABR. They are not us. They have their own needs. And they may need baseball differently than we do.

Here’s the referenced link that sparked this modest epistle:

********************

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

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4 Responses to “SABR Not Attracting Young People”

  1. materene Says:

    It all starts at home ! I can’t think of a better answer than that one. Nothing is the same for anyone after 50 and beyond that we’re lucky to be alive to even witness the disconnect from young people. What a shame because my most treasured remembrances of my friends were in those summer months of Little League Baseball. Some have already left us now and I still remember our life together even after all these years. It’s really just to sad to express how empty life gets when so many people out there don’t care about the same things we once did and still care about until we leave this world. Makes one wonder just what will these young people remember.

  2. Larry Dierker Says:

    I don’t agree that the length of the game is irrelevant, especially for younger fans. Much as I hate to say it, pacing should be controlled by the umpires, not the lawyers in New York who look down upon them. A snappier game, with rhubarbs and the occasional maylay would entertain young people. As it is, it’s easier for them to entertain themselves elsewhere and check their phones occasionally to see if their fantasy players have earned points. No need to learn the game or sit through it. MLB doesn’t care. Attendance is decent and the phones add revenue too. The lawyers call that win/win.

  3. David Munger Says:

    Something has to be done, over the decades the average time of a game has exploded, along with that what does technology hold for us down the line. The fans pay their way into the game but they also take their electronic devices with them. I can remember teaching my son, at an early age, to keep score. This not only kept him involved with the game but he also learned the rules. Baseball is still a beautiful and intricate game but like most things, as we get older, she ain’t what she used to be.

  4. don matlosz Says:

    It is not only the length of the game that is a turn off. I will no longer attend MLB games because of the way the game is played. The strikeout rate is ridiculous. A two day total of Oakland vs Houston. A’s batters struck out 31 times. The majority of managers do not consider the merits of small ball. Bunting for base hits-sacrifice bunts-stealing bases-hit and run-delayed steals. Watching the futility of batters who average 9-12 ks a game reminds me of WW! trench warfare or Gettysburg. Losing strategies and the inability to change.
    The only thing that likes change is a wet baby

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