By Ken Reed
It’s World Series time. Not that long ago the Series was must-watch TV for any self-respecting sports fan. It still is if you’re an AARP member but younger generations are increasingly taking a pass.
The mantra that drove Bud Selig throughout his term as commissioner of baseball — “Profit at all costs!” — is largely to blame.
Selig was the first baseball commissioner to completely ignore the “protect the best interests of the game” charge that earlier commissioners like Bart Giamatti and Fay Vincent took seriously.
During his 22 years as baseball’s top dog, Selig did a nice job of making the owners wealthier. But at what cost?
The average age of viewers who watch the World Series keeps climbing. According to a Nielsen media research report, the average age of those who watched the World Series last year was nearly 54. That’s believed to be the oldest in history. The scariest tidbit from the Nielsen research is that only 4.1 percent of children between the ages of 6-17 watched last year’s World Series. Less than five percent!
Selig has managed the game with a Wall Street quarterly report type of mindset. He pulled in a boatload of TV revenue dollars, but he might have also seriously damaged the game’s future.
To get the big TV money, he agreed to show playoff games on TBS and the new Fox Sports 1 networks. As such, he blacked out baseball’s postseason for those without access to those minor networks.
Between that move and the late game starts, Selig basically dropped the ball when it came to cultivating a new generation of fans. That certainly can’t be in the “best interests of the game.”
The great sportswriter, Joe Posnanski, has said baseball will never stop being the game it was when you were 10 years old.
For most of this generation’s 10 year-olds, that means irrelevant.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO. He discusses the use of Native American names and logos by sports teams and the decisions to drop the Chief Wahoo logo and the upcoming change to the team name. Other baseball topics include health and safety, possible MLB rule changes and youth participation in the sport.
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Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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