Baseball is one of the oldest sports in the world and also one of the most watched. But for a while, its appeal waned, particularly with the younger generations. Now, it may be shifting in the other direction.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at whether baseball is becoming more popular with young people again. We’ll also take a look at betting on baseball, covering everything from MLB picks to the types of deals and offers that could be available.
But first, let’s look at how baseball works.
How does the MLB work?
Baseball has been around for well over 100 years. Its main organizing body, Major League Baseball (MLB), is one of the oldest professional sports bodies.
The MLB’s role is to oversee and maintain professional baseball in the US. There are 30 teams in the MLB. They’re split into two divisions geographically, rather than for any hierarchical reason. One division is known as the American League and the other is called the National League.
The MLB season is something of an epic. Each team plays 162 regular season games. Their aim is to finish in the top six in order to be eligible for the playoffs. The winner of each divisional playoff qualifies for a chance to claim the ultimate prize in baseball – the World Series.
Betting on baseball
It’s possible to make a range of bets on baseball, from straight moneyline bets to handicaps and accumulators.
Some betting sites also offer welcome bonuses and deals, or enhanced odds for certain games.
It’s always worth researching different betting sites to ensure you’re getting the most for your stake.
The challenges facing baseball
As time goes by, people’s interests naturally change. In recent years, changes in attitude and likes and dislikes have largely been fueled by technology.
The popularity of game consoles, mobile phones and social media has drawn many younger people away from outdoor pursuits like baseball.
But while these external factors cannot be helped, the response the sport makes can. And to stay relevant, changes may be necessary.
With people’s attention spans growing shorter, it’s unlikely they’ll have the patience to sit through a four-hour match – not to mention the fact that each team plays 162 games a season, at least.
For young people, this can be a tough ask to keep up with, especially when there are other more immediate sports to watch, such as basketball and soccer.
An interesting comparison can be made with the sport of cricket. Popular in the UK, Australia and India, the sport at one time was losing its appeal and charm. To keep the game relevant, it was decided to introduce variations of the classic game, which some felt was far too long – a test match is usually played over five days.
So cricket launched quicker versions of the sport, such as T20, with games played in a couple of hours – a much more bearable experience for the casual fan and a great way to draw in new fans.
While there’s been no talk of this in baseball, the idea may be explored soon if figures don’t pick up.
Is baseball popular with young people again?
According to a 2019 survey by ESPN, youth baseball is on the increase. And the figures are quite significant.
Between the years 2013 and 2018, the survey found that the number of kids in the US playing baseball and softball increased by nearly three million – a huge figure. When you look at the totals, you begin to realize just how popular the sport is among youngsters.
In 2018, around 25 million children played baseball or softball. It was estimated that around 15 million of these – described as core players – played more than 13 times a year.
Further research by the Aspen Institute found that children between the ages of 6 and 12 voted baseball as their second most-preferred sport, behind basketball.
Interestingly, the number of children playing football has dropped, which makes you wonder whether they’re dissuaded by the more physical types of sport. This seems to be backed up by ESPN’s survey, which found that parents are looking at baseball as a safer option compared to American football, which can lead to a risk of brain injury.
It’s vital that young people show an interest in baseball if the sport is to survive into the future. With fewer youngsters playing, the talent pool that becomes available each year may get smaller and smaller, with the quality decreasing too.