Baseball, a sport given the title of “America’s Pastime”, has seen declining youth interest and participation in the last decade. An article from Bloomberg emphasizes the trend, “Since 2007, according to data from the Sports & Industry Fitness Association, the number of kids from six to 12 years old who play baseball has fallen from 5.44 million to 4.34 million” (Boudway, 2015). Unfortunately for the sport, this declined youth participation could lead to a decreased adult fan base in the coming decades, “Seventy-nine percent of avid baseball fans played the sport at some time in their life…” (Boudway, 2015). The statistics look dire for baseball, which is why Major League Baseball has used Twitter and other social media platforms to connect with younger generations in the last five years.
Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has made increased youth participation and interest in baseball a high priority. After all, “MLB has the oldest median TV audience at 56 years…” (Baysinger, 2016). As a new generation of baseball stars emerges on the diamond, Commissioner Manfred has a plan to market those stars to younger fans. Commissioner Manfred realizes that social media must be utilized, “A significant push is engagement on social media. We think those sort of undertakings are crucial to having these young stars reach out and connect with young fans” (Baysinger, 2016).
In recent years, Major League Baseball has greatly expanded its footprint on social media platforms like Twitter, in an attempt to connect with younger fans. For example, one of the best young players in the game is Angels outfielder Mike Trout. Trout currently has 2.08 million followers on Twitter, and he consistently sends out tweets (Twitter, 2016). The Boston Red Sox have 1.44 million followers on Twitter, while the New York Yankees have 1.9 million followers (Twitter, 2016). Twitter provides a platform for younger fans of the game to directly connect with their favorite teams and players. Some players, like pitcher Jeremy Guthrie, will hold giveaway contests where fans can receive game used cleats or hats. By providing younger fans a direct connection to players and teams, Major League Baseball looks to increase youth participation and interest in the sport. America’s new pastime is social media, so “America’s Pastime” needs to continue to utilize and grow its presence on platforms like Twitter.
Ira Boudway, “A Million Kids Stopped Playing Baseball. MLB Wants to Win Them Back” Bloomberg, July 14, 2015.
Tim Baysinger, “Can Social Media Help Major League Baseball Get Younger?” ADWEEK, March 27, 2016.
Josh Katzowitz, “The 10 best baseball accounts on Twitter” The Daily Dot, July 16, 2015.