By: Dawson Wright
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With all of the new pace of play rules that have been introduced this season, it is clear that Major League Baseball and commissioner Manfred are actively looking for a younger fan base. And since studies have shown that children have shorter attention spans, MLB figures that this should fix the problem.
Pace of play rules may help a little, but not as much as MLB thinks. Multiple studies have shown that the new rules are to only take off 10 minutes of game time, or less. If a child cannot watch an extra 10 minutes of a game, they aren’t a true baseball fan at all. And not only did all of the new rules upset most of baseball’s hardcore fans, but it upset the players most of all.
However, a major factor of sport popularity among youth that Major League Baseball is overlooking is player popularity. The most popular sport for people 20 years old or less is basketball. Why? And how has it taken over football for this age group?
If you were to ask a random sample on the street who is Lebron James, most people could give you an answer of “basketball player”. I asked one of my friends who doesn't watch any sports whatsoever who is Lebron James. He gave me the answer, “The basketball player guy.” I asked him who Mike Trout was, he replied, “A fisherman?” His reply of the fisherman was very alarming to me for a few reasons, but most of all being the fact he doesn't know who he is at all.
But player popularity has been a major factor in basketball taking over the NFL among youth popularity. NFL doesn't have a clear guy that is the most popular with a populus of the general public. It could be Tom Brady, but it is nowhere close as clear as a Lebron James.
This is where Major League Baseball has major problems. The MLB doesn't even have a Tom Brady popularity wise. It isn’t clear to anyone who is the most popular player. It could be Bryce Harper, but you can make cases for Kris Bryant and Aaron Judge as well.
There aren’t very many things that MLB can do to fix this, but I have noticed a few trends:
MLB, the game is fine. I mean there could be a few rule changes that vary year to year (slide rule), but with the current pace of play rules, it is just upsetting your most hardcore fans. So stop shooting yourself in the foot, and realize it isn’t the game, it is the culture.