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With the NBA and NHL already working on plans to wrap up their seasons and the NFL seemingly preparing to start on time, it’s left people wondering: what about baseball?
Even with states starting to slowly reopen, there’s been a division between the owners and players union on when they should start the season. Adding fuel to the fire, agent Scott Boras has continued to have players refuse any compromise in pay due to lost playing time.
With the dispute making the baseball season seem less likely with each passing day, it begs the question: what damage would this do to the sport? The short answer is a lot. However, as sports fans, we clamor for more than the short answer.
Baseball is already hemorrhaging fans because of length of games. Some fans have also been turned off by size of contracts players have received in recent years. However, the games’ biggest issue with fans has been its inability to capture younger fans because they find it boring.
Shutting down for a season would be the worst thing to happen to the sport. With eyes fleeting already, a lack of a season would drive away even some of the more loyal fans. This was proven nearly 25 years ago.
The 1994-95 Major League Baseball strike cost the sport millions of fans, some which never came back. To put into perspective: before the strike, the Toronto Blue Jays were drawing an average of over 40,000 fans a game from 1989 to 1994. They’ve only done it once since the strike ended in 1995. That’s only one fan base, though.
If you take that fan base into account, you can imagine how many fans the other 29 teams lost. It took a home run race, three long championships droughts to end and a couple of generational players to regain the fans they lost.
Losing another season would lose even more fans and possibly destroy the sport. The loss of fans would no doubt cost sponsorship opportunities to MLB, which as a result would hurt overall revenue and could lead to the collapse of professional baseball in America.
To go back to the question of how much damage losing the 2020 season could do to MLB, the short answer of a lot may not do justice. However, it also masks how losing fans could kill the sport even more.