Baseball remains America’s favorite pastime out of all sports
February 24, 2012
We have all heard the common phrase stating that baseball is America’s pastime. However, times have changed a bit since that phrase came into existence. In fact, most would probably say that football is actually America’s true pastime. I’m here to examine which sport, out of the big five, is truly America’s pastime.
The Oxford Dictionary defines a pastime as “an activity someone does regularly for enjoyment rather than work.” This definition doesn’t really help when it comes to determining a true pastime sport.
However, I am going to stretch this definition a bit anyways. By comparing the ratings of sports as well as the number of people who play them, I hope to determine what is actually America’s pastime.
In terms of playing sports we see the numbers vary drastically by age. According to CNN, between the ages of 6-13 the second most popular sport in America is soccer drawing over 17.5 million kids to the soccer pitch each and every year. In fact, Pop Warner Football, the largest and oldest youth football association in the United States, has approximately 260,000 players each year. I bet you never thought that soccer could be that far ahead of football in anything. In fact, lacrosse tallies approximately 240,000 kids a year, just behind football’s numbers. However, not even football and soccer combined can reach the popularity, in terms of numbers, of baseball. Annually baseball lines up in the ballpark of 22.2 million kids.
However, switch to high school and college sports and we see a drastic switch. If you were honest about it, most of the kids playing youth soccer and little league baseball are not athletes in any sense of the word.
When kids hit the high school and college level, football instantly takes control, nearly doubling the next closest sport. The next closest sport, actually, is basketball followed by track and field. While this can be attributed to football, basketball and track having the largest rosters and these sports are obviously popular or else no one would actually come out to play.
When it comes to the amount of people who watch certain sports, it isn’t even close. Out of the top 10 watched programs ever, three are football games. In fact 10 of the top 20 are football games. In the top 45 rated TV programs, all but two of the sporting events are football. The other two are skating events in the Winter Olympics in 1994. However, according to Sports Media Watch, a majority of the top programs on ESPN have been World Cup soccer matches. However, the NflPro Bowl, somehow, does better than both basketball’s and baseball’s all-star games.
Annually, more people also attend baseball games than any other sport in America. While this assuredly has something to do with the fact that baseball has more games and plays primarily in the summer, there is a much more glaring point.
The average ticket to get into a Nflgame will run you $75 per ticket. To get into a baseball game the average price is $27. You could nearly go to three baseball games for the price of one football game. This is why baseball is still considered by many to be America’s pastime; it is still easy for the average American to go spend a day at the ball park.
The final verdict? I hate to do this, but it really depends who you ask. Baseball boasts more players in youth sports as well as higher attendance at the professional level. While football boasts the highest TV ratings as well as the numbers to show that it is the most played sport at the high school and college level. As for my final choice. The fact that baseball is played by far more people and is more accessible to the average American makes it my choice to remain America’s pastime.
Benjamin Lamers is an alumnus of UW-River Falls. He was editor of the <em>Student Voice</em> during fall semester 2013.