The MLB Has An Attendance Problem. What Can We Do?

The MLB Has An Attendance Problem. What Can We Do?

2018 has seen attendance drop starkly. What is there to do?

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Ah, baseball. Long considered the epitome of American pastimes. As sacrosanct as rock music, football, and station wagons. And like all three, dying quickly. Yes, despite the lucrative contracts keeping the league afloat financially, and some teams succeeding, the MLB is suffering from a pervasive illness known as lack-of-attendance. With attendance down to a 15 year low, shrinking by anywhere from 5.9-6.5 percent, baseball this season has not galvanized the fan bases enough to come out and watch. What gives? Well, there are many issues this could be attributed to.

First, let's establish the struggling teams, and how precipitous of a decline these teams have undergone. We have myriad struggling teams, anchored to the bottom of their respective divisions or just not playing exciting baseball. The White Sox, for example, had 974 people attend a game. 974. Yes, that is one game that was on a Monday, but it's indicative of a larger trend (and yes, the Sox are playing some putrid baseball). This isn't isolated to the Sox, however. The Blue Jays? Check. The Orioles? Double check. The Rangers? Triple. This has even occurred among more reputable teams like the Indians. So what gives?

For one, let's not act as if baseball has not acquired a reputation for being boring. It has seemingly been reduced to a novelty amongst the American populace, especially when considering polls which have shown baseball's popularity decline gradually. Weather doesn't help things certainly, and the cold spell could be part of why the initial attendance was so meager for awhile. However, there are definitely other factors. The biggest one? Teams suck. Many teams have not been great or have been beset by attendance issues. The historical predictors are still there, and some teams have been able to weather the storms of poor attendance, but others have not been able to stave off those issues (MARLINS AND RAYS). What can be done to rectify this?

One solution is definitely cost. Considering prices rose by 2.7% on just tickets alone, and that does not factor in other expenditures at baseball games, teams could look at somehow trying to reduce cost. Trying to schedule as many games over the weekend stretches as possible would also be valuable, as games on Monday (like that 974 attendance figure) will definitely have less attendance than a game on Saturday. Some other ideas I have seen floated around are changing the venues (to switch things up a bit), and also make Opening Day more predictable. All I know is that there has to be some sort of solution somewhere. Part of it can also be in increasing entertainment value, though this can probably only come via changes to the draft and free agency. There has to be a solution somewhere.

Overall, baseball has remained popular. I'm of the opinion that almost nothing beats a day at a baseball stadium, whether it be Wrigley Field, Yankee Stadium, Busch Stadium, Dodger, Fenway, etc. However, these declines are still a little worrying despite the TV deals. Many teams, such as the Cubs, Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox, and Braves have all experienced either increases or consistently high attendance for many years now. However, other teams have NOT experienced this. Regardless of this, baseball remains an American pastime, and it is one that should be upheld and cherished.

For more about the declines, refer to this link.

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To The Coach Who Ruined The Game For Me

We can't blame you completely, but no one has ever stood up to you before.
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I know you never gave it a second thought, the idea that you're the reason I and many others, never went any farther in our athletic careers.

I know you didn’t sincerely care about our mental health, as long as we were physically healthy and our bodies were working enough to play. It’s obvious your calling wasn’t coaching and you weren’t meant to work with young adults, some who look to you as a parent figure or a confidant.

I also know that if we were to express our concerns about the empty feeling we began to feel when we stepped onto the court, you wouldn’t have taken the conversation seriously because it wasn’t your problem.

I know we can't blame you completely, no one has ever stood up to you before. No one said anything when girls would spend their time in the locker room crying because of something that was said or when half the team considered quitting because it was just too much.

We can't get mad at the obvious favoritism because that’s how sports are played.

Politics plays a huge role and if you want playing time, you have to know who to befriend. We CAN get mad at the obvious mistreatment, the empty threats, the verbal abuse, “it's not what you say, its how you say it.”

We can get mad because a sport that we loved so deeply and had such passion for, was taken away from us single-handedly by an adult who does not care. I know a paycheck meant more to you than our wellbeing, and I know in a few years you probably won’t even remember who we are, but we will always remember.

We will remember how excited we used to get on game days and how passionate we were when we played. How we wanted to continue on with our athletic careers to the next level when playing was actually fun. We will also always remember the sly remarks, the obvious dislike from the one person who was supposed to support and encourage us.

We will always remember the day things began to change and our love for the game started to fade.

I hope that one day, for the sake of the young athletes who still have a passion for what they do, you change.

I hope those same athletes walk into practice excited for the day, to get better and improve, instead of walking in with anxiety and worrying about how much trouble they would get into that day. I hope those athletes play their game and don’t hold back when doing it, instead of playing safe, too afraid to get pulled and benched the rest of the season.

I hope they form an incredible bond with you, the kind of bond they tell their future children about, “That’s the coach who made a difference for me when I was growing up, she’s the reason I continued to play.”

I don’t blame you for everything that happened, we all made choices. I just hope that one day, you realize that what you're doing isn’t working. I hope you realize that before any more athletes get to the point of hating the game they once loved.

To the coach that ruined the game for me, I hope you change.

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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Soccer Ruined My Brain

Pre-K through high school, I played competitive soccer until I suffered two concussions which have been impacting my life ever since.

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Soccer Career

U12 Girls Win 2nd Division - 7 Wins, 1 Tie, No LossesTippco Soccer Club

I started out soccer in the way most younger kids did -- their parents stuck them in rec soccer to keep them active and have them make friends. I played rec until I was nine and that was when my parents decided I should try to do travel soccer. I joined Tippco Soccer Club and my fate was sealed from there.

I had always been a multi-sport athlete -- juggling between cross country, volleyball, basketball, track, and soccer. Soccer was my true passion at the time. The more I played for Tippco, the more competitive I became. I was an aggressive player and loved my spot as either outside back or center back. I would occasionally play wing, but I could never find my spacing correctly.

When I was thirteen I tried out for the team that was a year above me. I made it with a few of my friends and we would stick together because we were intimidated by the older girls. I bonded really well with that team, but it was cut short when spring season hit. At the end of the spring season, there are usually several tournaments that happen throughout Indiana.

We decided to play in the Tippco tournament with hopes of winning. That tournament, I was a pass-player for another team. This meant I would attend my own games and play for the other team whenever they needed me.


GotSoccer


While I was pass-playing for the other team, I was subbed in for center back. A girl from the opposing team had gotten the ball into our goal box and was about to score. In the midst of trying to get the ball to the outside of the field, she fell on top of me and I hit the ground. When I hit, my head bounced off a dry dirt patch.

My coach said I blacked out for about a minute. I was taken out of the game and screened for a concussion on the sideline. At first, I was fine. I didn't understand why I couldn't go back into the game and why I had to sit out. I didn't see it as a big deal.

By the time my last afternoon game rolled around, I had convinced my parents that I was okay and I could play. My coach allowed me to play until I started having a double vision regarding the other opponents. Basically, he saw my charge for a girl that wasn't there so I was benched and told to go to Urgent Care.

At Urgent Care, I was diagnosed with a concussion that would affect my fine motor skills and had caused some potential nerve damage in my neck due to it snapping off the ground. I wasn't allowed to exercise for two months and I couldn't watch anything that had a screen. Light bothered me and any brain stimulation severely hurt my head.


U12 Girls White Team Wins 2012 Siege at St. Francis with 4-0 RecordTippco Soccer Club


I recovered from this concussion in time for the fall season. I played well throughout the fall. I had no issues except for my balance. During the spring, I endured my second concussion. We were playing a regular season game in Fishers. Again, I was on defense when a girl tried to curve a ball around my head. She failed and hit me in the face.

I lost vision and hearing. I was immediately taken out of the game and taken to the nearest Urgent Care. This concussion was minor compared to my last one, but it affected my memory. I stopped playing soccer after that game and switched my focus to running.


U12 Girls White Team Wins Fusion Fall Classic with 5 Games in 2 DaysTippco Soccer Club

Throughout high school, I ran for the cross country and track teams. I was involved with several clubs and maintained a 4.0 GPA until my graduation. I graduated Top 5% in my class and had little-to-no effects from my concussions. I had a few minor instances where I would forget certain days or names, but I didn't think much of it.


The Aftermath

The summer before college, I had a lot of trouble remembering to do simple tasks. I blamed it on being lazy and not wanting to do anything. I couldn't remember assignments I had to do, along with chores, appointments, and meetings. It wasn't until my first few quizzes and exams during the first semester that I realized something was very wrong.

I knew the information and I would re-teach it to myself every night to make sure I understood. Each time I took a test or quiz, it would feel like the answers were far away in my mind. I remembered studying for the information, but I couldn't quite reach it.

I began getting awful grades. I was used to all A's and upon receiving my first C, it felt like the end of the world. I couldn't wrap my head around why I wasn't able to retain information like I used to. I went from striving for A's to hoping for C's and B's. It felt like I was a failure and I shouldn't have been accepted to Purdue.

It didn't help that I couldn't even remember people and places. Sometimes I would wake up and not know how to get to class or forget the names of the people I had been sitting with the entire semester.

I reached out to the Disability Resource Center (DRC) about halfway through the semester. They suggested attending supplemental study sessions and I was given a letter that allowed me to have accommodations for testing (i.e. extra time, room alone, etc.). This helped a little bit, but I continued to struggle with schoolwork and exams.

I felt hopeless. I didn't see a point in continuing school or even getting a job. I saw myself as a useless student with the memory of a goldfish. I talked with my parents about it and them kind of understood, but not fully. They didn't get why repeatedly studying doesn't make a difference for me.

Now that I'm in my second semester, I still struggle with retaining information. I feel a bit overwhelmed and I have to work overtime on school and clubs. I've made a great support system.

They're trying to understand what I'm going through and are there for me when I need them. I think I'm going to get testing soon to see how this may impact me later in life. It only took four years to have effects such as these, so I'm worried and interested in how the condition of my brain will be in another four years.

I urge anyone that is struggling from concussions or any condition that they're not alone and there are plenty of resources to seek help. Even if the resources can't fix the problem, they can point you in a direction that can alleviate it. I also wanted to stress how important your brain is.

I used to not think my concussions were a big deal and were more of just a funny sports story. They now have real impacts and it's been changing my life. If you're playing contact sports, please wear safety gear. You only have one brain and you can't get it back once it's gone -- take care of it.


Resources


Purdue University Disability Resource Center (DRC)

Address: Earnest C. Young Hall Building, 8th Floor, Room 830, 155 Grant St, West Lafayette, IN 47907

Phone: (765) 494-1247


Purdue University Student Health Center (PUSH)

Address: 601 Stadium Mall Dr., West Lafayette, IN 47907

Phone: (765) 494-1700


Indiana University Health Arnett

Address: 253 Sagamore Pkwy W, West Lafayette, IN 47906

Phone: (765) 448-8000


Franciscan Express Care West Lafayette

Address: 915 Sagamore Pkwy W, West Lafayette, IN 47906

Phone: (765) 463-6262

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