There are some people, particularly among old time athletes and sports journalists that forget sports is little more than entertainment and competes with concerts, movies, TV shows and other forums for attention and money. With that in mind, one ESPN hockey analyst is upset that the National Hockey League has decided to go ahead with four outdoor games in the 2016-17 season. Pierre LeBrun doesn’t like it at all and thinks the league should cut back to one game annually. Sports journalists don’t live in the real world and in the real world as long as there is a demand for a product, then the product is made available. Four outdoor games over a season that starts in September with pre-season and World Cup games and ends with the Stanley Cup in June in four different cities, Winnipeg, Toronto, Pittsburgh and St. Louis really isn’t very much although none of these games should be considered classics but that’s what the NHL wants to call them.
Then there is baseball, a sport which was the king in 1950 which now is struggling to get young people interested in the product. The average age according to those who collect data of the baseball viewer in 2015 was 56 years of age. Bryce Harper, perhaps baseball’s most electrifying young player thinks baseball should live in 2016 and let the younger players show excitement and enthusiasm on the field but then you have Hall of Famer Goose Gossage who played in the 1970s, 80s and 90s thinks players shouldn’t celebrate and that nerds have taken over the game. Goosage was born in 1951 and grew up when baseball was king in the 1950s. Today baseball thinkers are considering tinkering with the game for kids changing rules and creating exciting situations to keep kids interested. Baseball has to get a younger audience soon or those huge revenue streams might dry up. After all sports is entertainment.
Republished with permission, Evan Weiner for The Politics of Sports Business.