Baseball’s a famous American sport. Why doesn’t anyone watch its collegiate counterpart?
Jim Thome, Steve Carlton, Jacob DeGrom, Branch Rickey, J.D. Martinez, Lou Brock. This is a who’s who of baseball past and present, and they all have one thing in common: they were all collegiate athletes. College baseball has produced a large portion of the best Major League Baseball has to offer. So why don’t people watch more of it?
Unlike college football or college basketball, college baseball suffers from fans’ indifference, only seeing elevated television viewership during the end-of-year College World Series, and even then, the viewer numbers come nowhere close to those of college bowl games or March Madness.
Considering that baseball is a sport that’s been played longer than either football or basketball, it would seem likely that people would care more about it because it’s more entrenched in the American psyche. But they don’t. And that’s extremely puzzling and frankly troubling.
Over the last decade or so, Major League Baseball has been faced with the problems of making the game faster and more entertaining to appeal to an audience with a dwindling attention span. And this, of course, has extended to college baseball. But the difficulty college baseball faces is not retaining the viewer’s attention, it’s attracting it in the first place.
To college baseball fans, all of this is puzzling because the sport is quite entertaining. During the season, it’s almost guaranteed that a player from Cal State Fullerton or Tennessee will make at least one appearance on ESPN’s daily Sportscenter Top 10 Plays. So the exciting plays are there and the fundamentally American sport is there. With that in mind, what’s the problem? In one word, it’s promotion.
College baseball isn’t promoted like its football and basketball counterparts are. This is a fault shared by various organizations, including the NCAA, the schools, ESPN and any other networks that broadcast collegiate sports.
But no matter what blame is thrown around, the fact is that it needs to change, or college baseball will become an afterthought, a fate that the quintessential American sport should not have to endure.