As the Baltimore Orioles’ offseason has kicked into full gear, one topic on which I’ve spent some time is some of the ratings problems being seen in the National Football League thus far this fall. Let’s be clear; the ratings aren’t by any means taking a nosedive for football every week. But they’re seemingly trending downwards, and that’s something that a lot of people thought could never happen.
Last week was the first week after which the Presidential election had finished. So I’ll be interested to see what the ratings are moving forward. I do think it’s very possible that’s something which may have affected viewership here and there. I won’t lie; as the autumn went on, I found myself watching CNN/FOX/MSNBC on Sunday evenings when I would have otherwise been watching football or baseball. The election riveted millions of Americans.
However the flip side is that some of the PR problems, over-officiating, and over-regulation probles the NFL has are what’s partially causing the downtick. I suspect that if that’s true, what’s happening is that people are still watching their favorite teams week in and week out. I know that I do! However I would submit that perhaps it’s viewership with the national games that are down. Why watch two other teams play on Monday Night Football when it’s only going to be a flag-fest?
So here’s my point this morning; while baseball is always going to be known as America’s Pastime, the NFL has also been “king” for the past 30 years or so. Therefore, does MLB perhaps now have an opportunity to re-make itself? In saying that, keep in mind that for the most part these two sports don’t compete against one another. The beginning of the football season competes with the pennant stretches and playoffs, but the meat of the two seasons are mutually exclusive
I think that baseball is in a unique spot because of it’s title of America’s Pastime. It bonds with the very fabric of the history of our country. Furthermore it’s a summer game, which people associate with vacations, BBQ’s, and good times. It’s also an everyday affair, whereas the NFL is once a week. That’s always been to the NFL’s advantage, as it keeps people in suspense so to speak.
Given the fact that baseball is so embedded in the fabric of our culture, I’m not sure you’ll ever see players kneeling for the national anthem. And the fact that the most recent World Series included two teams that were true feel-good stories in the sport doesn’t hurt. Furthermore the invent of the new Wild Card format has given the month of September and the playoffs themselves a shot in the arm.
So with all of this said, if the NFL truly has a PR problem of sorts now, baseball is in a perfect spot to re-market itself once again as America’s Pastime. Again, it will always be that, and it always has been. But they might now find themselves in a spot to shift people’s sports dollars from football back to baseball. Time will tell.