They call it America’s pastime. But “they” must not be the millions of football fans that pay the big bucks for sports packages, and are worth the most expensive advertising money can buy. Just looking at the number in the stands on any given Sunday, Football sure looks like the clear winner. But look again. There are a few details that make the competition between the two sports not quite so clear.
Baseball is played over the course of 6 months and 162 games per season for each of 30 teams. That is 2,430 games from which fans can choose to watch or attend for half of the year. Football divides a total of 256 games over just 17 weeks. Each of the 32 teams plays a total of 16 games with one week off per season.
That means that there is a lot less time to watch football, and a lot fewer games to take in. Football fans will only have 8 home games to enjoy if their team does not make the playoffs. If they do, you won’t be able to afford the tickets anyway. This is why the visuals favor football. You are lucky to get a ticket for one game. That packs the stadiums for a concentrated period of time.
Baseball is enjoyed more casually, and with a lot less desperation. True, it might not command the huge ad spend of football. But there are some very good reasons why it is still considered America’s pastime. Here are three:
Baseball is more affordable
The most expensive part of baseball is probably the footwear. You want to make sure you are choosing correctly between the different types of baseball cleats that are available. It is a matter of safety and stability. The right cleats make plays like this possible.
Get a ball, a bat, and glove, all of which, you can pick up at discount stores if you like, and find a reasonably flat piece of ground. Game on.
Professionally, you can enjoy a game at the park for a song. You can take the whole family, and still have enough left over for a hotdog and a drink. You are not getting anywhere near a football stadium for the cost of the entire evening at a baseball park.
Baseball is safer
Football is not just an innocent release of energy; it is an explosion of violence. Very few parents would encourage their daughter to play it. And they tend to feel uncomfortable about giving the green light to their boys. There is always the specter of serious injury. In football, violent contact isn’t incidental. It’s the point. That is why football players wear elaborate suite of armor. It is not fun for the whole family. Perhaps George Carlin said it best:
In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy’s defensive line. In baseball the object is to go home! And to be safe!
Baseball is family friendly
For as long as the sport has been around, fathers and sons have been bonding over baseball stats and memories of games they took in at the park. Both mothers and fathers can feel good about fitting either son or daughter with a baseball glove and a game of catch in the backyard. The same cannot be said for a helmet and shoulder pads.
Baseball is America’s pastime because it is safer, cheaper, friendlier, cleaner, simpler, accessible, and downright fun. There is no intentional, violent contact. Everyone plays both defense and offense. Just as much energy is burned off. And out of nearly 2,500 games to choose from, if you really want to see a game, you most likely can.
If America has to choose an official sport, it can’t do better than baseball.