Many U.S. sports fans agree that football is America’s pasttime. Baseball once held that mantle, but lost it probably sometime in the late 80’s or early 90’s to football. But, baseball has put itself in a much more precarious situation due to the steroids era.
The danger in the revelations of Alex Rodriguez’s (baseball’s current best player) admission, Miguel Tejada’s (former MVP) conviction, Barry Bonds’ (home run king) trial, and Roger Clemens’ (multi Cy Young award winner) legal battles is that fans may not show the kind of interest in baseball that they have shown in the past. Scorecards and boxscores may be on their way out. Fans might have reached the boiling point. With the economy in shambles, the turnstiles might prove that fans have had enough, and would rather invest their money in other ways.
This is where soccer comes in. Can pro soccer gain U.S. sports fans, especially the ones giving up on baseball? Peripheral baseball fans may be ready to jump ship.
Baseball is losing fans and interest, this is no secret. Soccer should act fast to get those sports fans that are dropping baseball, and get them introduced to the passion of soccer. Maybe its time for a counter marketing campaign, one that focuses on baseball’s downfalls and soccer’s fun aspects of fandom.
Even with many baseball stadiums not even half full this year, television ratings will still have an impact. But, the empty stands may affect sports fans’ interest in watching games. This is a question in the psychology of fandom. For fans watching on tv, it seems better when the stadium is packed full.
Major League Baseball is betting that its new network, mlb.com, will be a hit with ratings. Time will tell. But, baseball is a slow game for fans to watch, and with the right presentation, soccer can nudge itself more into the minds of U.S. sports fans.
Professional soccer in the U.S. should be looking to expand its fan base by marketing to sports fans, especially in lieu of what has happened to baseball’s credibility. Seemingly everyday, there is negative news coming out of the sports world that affects baseball and sports fans’ views of baseball. As a sports fan, now is the time more than ever to feel apprehensive towards baseball and excited about soccer.
These are America’s two summer sports. They are competition to each other, whether they like it or not.