MLB and NHL: Feel Free To Pass On Utah
Some of my colleagues have written recently how all of Utah is waiting impatiently for a Major League Baseball franchise or a National Hockey League team to call the Beehive State home.
I must respectfully disagree. Granted, I'm not the demographic that major league sports is interested in courting, anyway. Forget the fact that I do have discretionary funds available and I could actually bare the exorbitant costs of attending a major league sporting event from time to time, I have as much interest in major league sports as they have in me. And I don't think I'm alone.
Attendance at major league sports has been declining due to several factors. One primary reason is the high ticket prices associated with attending these events. As ticket prices continue to rise, it becomes more expensive for fans to regularly attend games, leading some to opt for more affordable alternatives or watch from home. More to the point, as inflation continues to chew away at the buying power of average citizens, the choice between paying for monthly obligations and providing for families or attending higher and higher priced sporting events becomes pretty easy to make.
The availability of televised and streaming options has also played a role. Technological advancements have made it easier for fans to access games from the comfort of their homes. With the convenience of watching on TV or online, some fans prefer to avoid the expenses and inconveniences of attending games in person. Plus, you can usually get a better view of the games with multiple camera options and replay options.
Changing viewing habits have contributed to the decline as well. The widespread use of smartphones and other devices allows fans to follow games and receive real-time updates through digital platforms. Social media platforms also provide highlights and instant analysis, reducing the need for physical attendance.
The overall fan experience at stadiums has been a concern. Some fans feel that attending games in person does not offer significant advantages compared to watching from home. Issues such as long lines for concessions, limited parking, and excessive commercialization have contributed to a less enjoyable experience for attendees. Let's come back to that.
The availability of competing entertainment options is another factor. Fans have a wide range of choices for leisure activities and discretionary spending, including movies, concerts, video games, and other forms of entertainment. Major league sports face competition in capturing people's attention and entertainment dollars.
The performance of the teams can also impact attendance. If a team consistently performs poorly, fans may become disenchanted and choose not to attend games. Conversely, if a team dominates their league for an extended period, the outcome of games may seem predictable, leading some fans to lose interest.
I want to go back to the fan experience for a moment. And this is why I do very little major league sports in person or even on screen. I think our entertainment providers have forgotten why we come out to attend events. Oh, and if you don't consider sports entertainment I would just ask you what the E in ESPN stands for. I certainly won't speak for anyone here other than myself. But when I go out for entertainment, my desire for the hours I invest is to escape from the day to day routine. I don't want to go and be propagandized. I don't want to be preached at (I can take care of that at church). I don't want to be told that I'm the cause of all the problems of the world. I don't want to be told I don't care enough. All of that surrounds me most all day every day.
I just want to go and relax. I just want to unplug. I want to take my mind off of the day to day cares of life for a couple of hours. Does that resonate with you? Am I asking too much?
I can best illustrate this, perhaps, by a summary of a phone conversation I had with a colleague the other day. He is an avid Dodgers fan. I, as you may know, have been with the Angels since they became a team, so over the years we have had some good nature kidding with one another. I mentioned to him that we might have a strained relationship next season when, as what I believe will happen, Shohei Ohtani will move up the Santa Ana Freeway and comes out on to the field in Dodger Blue. After a brief chat about that, he stunned me by saying “I might just about done with the Dodgers.” Well, that was surprising to say the least. I asked him why, and you can probably put the pieces together, but it basically comes down to what I believe many of us think. I just wish they would just play baseball. Or football. Or hockey. Or basketball. Just play the game, and hopefully play the game for the love of the game.
Interesting side note here if you missed it. The Athletic took a poll of some 100 Major League players and guess what city showed up at the bottom of places they would like to see an expansion team? Hint: it rhymes with Halfed Baked Pity.
So, MLB and for that matter NHL, if you want to take a pass on Utah that's fine with me. With all the great high school programs, and a couple of college programs in the area that are starting to make some noise and proving fun to watch that's really all I need. They still play for the love of the game. Major leaguers, when you get back to that, give me a call.