Lets flashback 150 years: The year is 1865, during American Civil War, General Grant is currently in his tent discussing strategies for the next battle. Outside, his soldiers are playing a game that has four bases, a ball and a stick. What those soldiers do not know is that in less than 50 years, the game they are playing out of leisure will have become the past-time of an entire nation.

A common baseball used by the soldiers during the Civil War
A common baseball used by the soldiers during the Civil War

Now let’s fast forward from 1865 to 1958. The baseball gods of Ted Williams, Hank Aaron and Yogi Berra crowded the plate. And baseball was the most popular sport in America. Even though it seemed nothing could surpass the great game of baseball, a young monster was currently growing. In 1958 The Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants participated in the Championship Game. The National Football League was a relatively young league and not very well-known throughout the country. That game between the Colts and Giants though began the change that made the baseball greats bow to the legends of the gridiron.  How was it that a sport, so dominant and so filled with stars and legends for so long could become obsolete to a sport that was not even created until Baseball was in its 20th year of existence? The answer is both simple and complex.

The Media

Even though that at the time of the ’58 NFL Championship Game most media outlets focused more on who would win the World Series, smaller outlets had started to push for the new sport that was sweeping the nation. While the NFL was nowhere near the popularity of baseball at the time, it was obvious that the balance of powers between the two sports was starting to turn to the other side.  In 1962, one man ended up pushing that balance to make the sport of football more than just a game, but a religion for every city in America. That man was Ed Sabol.

Ed Sabol and son Steve Sabol- the founders of NFL Films
Ed Sabol and son Steve Sabol- the founders of NFL Films

Ed Sabol changed the way we as fans look at football games. Whether it be through different camera angles or micing up all players and coaches so people can actually hear how the games are being played. It made fans connect fans more with the people of the NFL because they could see how strategies and personnel were being used during games. The different camera angles gave people the opportunity to see different angles of an NFL game. It was just another way for fans to enjoy the game. Ed Sabol, and in later years Steve Sabol, shifted the balance of powers between the NFL and the MLB because they made it possible for fans to become closer to the game that Major League Baseball could never get. Through the next few years, because of NFL Films and their new ways of bringing the games to the fans, football had gone from just a nice sport to watch leisurely on Sunday to a full on multi-billion dollar business that has become so popular that it has become, as the saying goes, “America’s Game”. In the next few years a two leagues would merge together and have one massive championship game now known as the Super Bowl. NFL Films had built an empire all on its own and had stolen the hearts of Americans as the focus went from who could win the World Series to who are the most likely teams to head to the next Super Bowl. Later on there would be television shows based solely on professional football as the popularity grew. ESPN- a company that would always broadcast highlights as a balance for all sports, started to have specific shows just based on football. NFL Network grew from NFL Films. Now NFL Network broadcasts every big aspect of football including the NFL draft. On average, the NFL Network had close to 8 million viewers watching the NFL draft. The NFL DRAFT! A time when only players are selected and nothing more was watched by more than 8 million viewers while baseball’s television network only has close to 290,000 per game that they show. Per game! The Media was the full culprit on the popularity of the game of football but not so much baseball. On average baseball games are being broadcasted on FOX, ESPN, MLB Network as well as TBS. While respectable the game of football counters that with FOX.CBS, FOX 1, NFL Network, ESPN, ABC (College Football), and NBC. The coverage of football by the media has far exceeded that of baseball. Why? Why has the sport of baseball taken such a hit while the NFL continues to grow as the most popular sport in America?

Baseball’s Downfall

The biggest reason for the downfall of baseball has been the human mind. Now while some baseball fans will question how football is more exciting than baseball because of the average time for both typical games is 3 hours and 12 minutes. Even though loyal fans to the diamond will stick with that fact, the human mind has changed the way we look at both sports. The intention span of a human in the year 2000 was 12 seconds. In today’s day that time has gone down to eight. That is a huge difference simply for one reason. While baseball and football take around the same time to complete an average game it is the way each single “play” of both games in being run that has made football more enticing to the regular human-being. In baseball the average time between pitches has risen to 18 seconds. Due to the smaller intention span of human’s now, fans get bored very quickly just by watching the pitcher accept a sign from the catcher. With boredom comes less and less enthusiasm for games.Now an NFL play on average takes close to 25 seconds so most baseball aficionados ask why is it that most fans aren’t bored with football like they are with baseball. The answer to that is very simple: new offenses have made the game quicker and a lot more points are put up on the board in football games than in baseball. Average fans want to see,and have seen high scoring, fast-pace action with shoot-outs happening every other week. In baseball, fans are treated to occasional pitchers duels where there is little to no scoring and very little excitement. Where one sport has seen and changed how fans want there games to be played, the other has stayed the same and that has bored today’s American people. While the change of the human mind has called for faster games and higher scoring it just seems that baseball cannot keep up with the ever-changing NFL.

As George Carlin puts it: The objectives of both sports is completely different

What is your take? Leave a comment here with what sport you think is better and why!

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