SportStars Magazine

Why is Baseball Striking Out On TV Air Time?

Why is Baseball Striking Out On TV Air Time?

The state championship basketball games are on TV, even the Division V ones. Kids get excited about basketball and football, even when the teams aren’t that good. 

But when our baseball team is good, no one seems to care. It just doesn’t seem right. We’re just as good as athletes as they are, and we win a lot more games.

Why don’t people care as much about us as they do about basketball and football?

— R. G., Oakland

That’s an interesting question.

Especially, since that’s almost always been true, even when baseball was really considered the national pastime.

Back in the ‘50s and ‘60s, high school football and high school basketball were huge, but baseball not so much, even though the NBA finals were shown on tape delay and the NFL didn’t get much as much coverage as major league baseball.

Part of the reason, of course, is that baseball is played in the afternoon and basketball and football are for the most part played at night.

Why is Baseball Striking Out On TV Air Time? That makes it easier for parents and the community to get to games, and it also makes it more fun for the students who can then get out of the house at night. Going to a game after school just doesn’t have the same attraction.

And also, baseball is a much more subtle game than basketball and football, and is harder to appreciate without knowing a lot more about the individual players. I enjoy watching major league baseball on TV because I know the stories and statistics so that when something unusual happens — like Denard Span hitting a 425-foot home run — it’s pretty exciting.

But no one really knows what the high school statistics are, and the pace of the game is very slow.

And it also has to be mentioned that Friday night football and basketball are both places to see and be seen. Especially, by members of the opposite sex. Back in the day, there would be some dances after football games, but even without that kind of attraction, there’s plenty of flirtation going on.

That could happen at a baseball game. Of course, but it’s just not the same as Friday night under the lights.

The lack of TV coverage has a couple of causes:

First, baseball is a difficult game to televise without multiple cameras and instant replay. There are long periods of relative inactivity, and when something exciting finally does happen. Instant replay allows viewers to:

a) get to see it even if their attention had wandered.

b) enjoy that burst of athleticism more than once.

The other issue with TV is that broadcasters can never know exactly how long a baseball game might last. Which makes it very difficult to slot in other shows.

A brisk high school game could be over in 90 minutes. Or, if the pitchers can’t find the plate, it could take three hours. This makes it hard to program around baseball, while both football and basketball are much more predictable in game lengths.

Finally, college fans will watch high school football and high school basketball because they may see potential recruits for their schools. Baseball is not that big a sport on college campuses. 

Many of the best players turn pro immediately after high school, further limiting potential interest.

All that said, though, spending a warm spring afternoon stretched out in the bleachers watching a quality high school baseball game can be a great way to spend the day. It’s just too bad more people don’t do so.

Clay Kallam has been an assistant athletic director and coached multiple sports and a handful of high schools throughout the Bay Area. To submit a question for Behind the Clipboard, email him at clayk@fullcourt.com

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