As of the writing of this article, attendance looks like this:
This marks a measured decline for three consecutive years, which for any baseball lover is somewhat concerning. There have been several articles discussing the declining attendance in major league baseball as of late. Bad weather, ticket prices, and several theories exist as to why, but one I have not read much about is simply competition.
For better or worse, baseball follows the laws of supply and demand, and with that the teams who perform poorly will see dramatic declines in attendance (generally speaking). What usually accompanies the law of supply and demand is accompanying price changes, but that is not what we are seeing in Major League Baseball. With the exception of my beloved Chicago White Sox, virtually every team has stagnant or increased ticket prices. So teams like the Marlins, Orioles, and Royals who are struggling and/or rebuilding and increasing prices for the privilege of watching them struggle? Why does that surprise anyone?
Baseball vs. Soccer
All that being said, the actual elephant in the room is actually soccer. While the NFL is still the dominant force in popularity and revenue, baseball remains america’s past-time; a tradition “every” kid participates in every summer. Despite some reports of declining youth soccer participation, there is equally (if not more) on the competition of youth soccer and little league which undeniably contributes to the attendance and participation of professional baseball. In 2015, Forbes reported on youth soccer having much quicker and stickier adoption than little league baseball, which I have witnessed as a parent.
My wife and I discussed this recently and her findings and discussions with other parents is not surprising. Baseball is the equivalent of calculus, whereas soccer is closer to addition. What we mean by that is the complexity of the game, particularly for young kids is undeniably in the favor of soccer. For youths, soccer represents as little a learning curve as you can imagine, whereas the rules of baseball alone and the amount of attention span without action can be extremely challenging. I struggle with this with my son, where his attention and interest wane rapidly if he is not catching or “pitching” in his coach pitch league.
Nothing beats a father son game of catch
Regardless of all of this and that, nothing compares to a game of catch.
Baseball remains healthy and strong, and I don’t care what anyone says, baseball is America’s Past Time, and will always be.