Last September, The New York Times reported on a 12-year slump in ticket sales for Major League Baseball games. “Total attendance across 2,429 major league games during the regular season dropped by about 1 million fans this season,” the league reported. College and pro football have also been hit with lower attendance. Explanations for the dip in sales vary from diminishing attention spans to fluctuating ticket prices.
Does this signal a lessening interest in sports for younger fans? Not necessarily. The hotly contested sports debates on The Tylt show an ongoing interest in their favorite games. Contrary to the notion that diminishing attention spans are to blame, 63 percent voted that they watch the Super Bowl for the game itself, not the commercials (entertaining though they may be).
There’s no shortage of emotion (positive or negative) for the athletes themselves, either. Interest remains robust in hashing out whether this or that star is the best (or worst). Ali versus Tyson, hypothetical though it is, remains a perennially popular debate with most readers saying the Greatest remains the Greatest. Michael Jordan versus LeBron James is less sure, with Jordan only leading by about 10 percent.
Millennial and Gen-Z readers hold strong opinions about the monetary side of big sports, too. Asked if pro football, basketball, baseball and soccer stars are overpaid, the debate ranged across the country but landed nearly in a dead heat, with the “overpaid” side narrowly winning at 53.2 percent.
Opinions are quite different, however, when considering whether or not college athletes should be paid. For that one, a substantial 76 percent so far have voted in favor of the collegiate athletes getting some cash for their work.
Franchises still make plenty of money in merchandising, sponsorships, and rights deals even if they can’t get as many people to attend in person. Reducing the cost of season tickets may help. Or it could simply be a shift in the way people are watching sports, leaning in more to streaming services. The point is, the interest is there, whatever the ticket sales may be; and the younger generations of sports fans are no less in love with the game, whatever jersey they may wear.