America’s pastime is changing

Baseball (along with sports and media generally) is changing.

The author(s)

  • Clifford Young President, US, Public Affairs
  • Sarah Feldman Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs
  • Catherine Morris Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs
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Another year, another delayed Opening Day. Instead of the pandemic causing disruptions, stalled contract negotiations pushed the MLB Opening Day back this year.

Contracts aside, taking a wide view, the last two years have sprung new changes for America’s pastime. Thanks to the lockout, digital media adoption, and, of course, the pandemic, baseball and sports (more generally) look and feel different.

We examine the trends shaping how people follow their favorite sports. Also, how younger adults, in particular, are beginning to seem a lot different than everyone else when it comes to sports fandom.

  1. Getting past the lockout. After 99 days of contract negotiations, most MLB fans support the decisions coming out of the lockout that delayed Opening Day. Owners take slightly more flak for the ordeal. Well, let’s play ball!Baseball lockout

     

  2. Lingering effects. A majority still back showing proof of vaccination or taking a COVID test when attending MLB games. Though, among both MLB fans and the general public, support for this measure has softened since last year. Notably, none of these measures are in effect despite the strong support. COVID has left its health imprint even on baseball.MLB COVID restrictions

     

  3. Sports Streamed. Like other forms of entertainment, sports are going by way of streaming. Youngers fans much more than older ones. When did this happen?! Must have slipped by us during COVID.Sports streaming

     

  4. Sports betters are young. New mediums, new interactions. Just as the under 35 cohort watches sports differently than older sports fans, they are also more likely to bet on a sports game online. So, what gives here? Do young fans bet more today than their brethren a decade ago? Or do just the young bet more? Is it technology or youth? Not sure. But the data is interesting.Sports betting online

     

  5. Dodgers, Dodgers, Dodgers. Most fans of Major League Baseball think the LA Dodgers will win the World Series this year. The Yankees follow as a favorite. While there’s been a lot of change across media and sports, one thing hasn’t changed. The Cubs are down but not out. We will see in 162 games (plus a few more) from now.World Series favorites

     

How we engage with sports is changing. The pandemic modified what an in-person event looks and feels like, necessitating masks, vaccine cards, and negative COVID tests. At the same time, the way we watch sports at home is in flux too. Expect streaming and digital mediums for following games to continue growing into the future.

The youngest generation of fans is driving a lot of this. This age group watches and follows their favorite teams and leagues differently than older Americans. In with the new; out with the old.

Change aside, isn’t it a breath of fresh air to talk about baseball and not Ukraine, or COVID, or hyper-partisanship. For now, it’s April and baseball!

The author(s)

  • Clifford Young President, US, Public Affairs
  • Sarah Feldman Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs
  • Catherine Morris Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs

Society