Posts Tagged ‘short attention spans’

How Much Baseball Do Today’s Fans Really See?

July 18, 2013
Who's really watching?

Who’s really watching?

Friend and fellow SABR member Tony Cavender recently sent me this link to a Wall Street Journal article in which they disclose the results of their attempt to put the clock on “how much action” really takes place these days in your average three-hour baseball game (with the value emphasis on action over stillness in the field as important to the fans).

Time was when tuning into the stillness moments – and where the players were positioning themselves on the field – were both parts of the game that fans watched. Not today. They are too busy consuming – or getting blasted by tee-shirt slingshots – or texting – or waiting to be awakened by a home run.

Here’s the WSJ article link:

According to the WSJ piece, the average three-hour game today contains only 17 minutes and 58 seconds of “action” as their researchers define action for this study. The details are all laid out for you in the article.

The point here is that – if we have finally reached the point of trying to define baseball as only valuable by the volume of action it generates, we have totally lost our appreciation for what made the game great on those earlier pastoral fields as the closest game to “chess in motion” ever devised as an athletic competition.

If baseball has to be sped up, or put more in motion for continuous action, or loaded with more gimmicky side actions, just to keep today’s crowds entertained between slurps and texts, then we may as well just surrender all the stadium fans to football and basketball right now. Those sports were made for continuous motion, but baseball was not. It’s what managers and players do, and fail to do, in between action plays that most often determines a baseball game’s outcome, but you won’t see any of these things, if you’ve not been taught what to look for on the field that simply looms before your very eyes, begging for an attention level you either cannot, or will not, give it.

On a related note, I received a professional flyer in the mail yesterday that came as a reminder that my mental health counseling field is now shifting gears to the new “DSM-5” diagnostic and statistical manual as a tool for diagnosing psychological and emotional disorders in children and adolescents. The flyer was prepared by a group of educators who are hoping that people like me will pick them as a source of continuing education on how to best use the changes in the new device.

There are now six new diagnostic “disorder” categories for children that all have something to do with shorter attention spans.

Gee! How hard is this picture to figure? We have become a culture of short attention spans. Is it any wonder that we are seeing more children born into this world today with some kind of attention deficit disorder already built into their systems? In effect, we seem to be in the middle of a neurological re-wiring process that emanates from our increasing dependency upon the always evolving technology that drives our cravings for more.

Whoa! That’s a heavy thought!

I’m not sure that there’s anything we can do about it, but let’s start with developing a clearer recognition of what’s going on. It isn’t all that pretty, but it is very real – and its threat goes way beyond people losing interest in baseball. Shorter attention spans breed less patience and an increase in anger and a faster trip to polarization on political issues.

I have no interest in going political here. I’m just concerned that the old ways we used to have for finding our middle ground on political problems that scream at us are now disappearing for everyone. And it all seems to share a common thread. People just cannot pay attention to anything for very long these days.

Have a nice day, everybody – and don’t forget to be patient with yourself and others along the way.