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


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