On Monday night, the NFL (Jaguars versus Titans) went head-to-head with game 3 of the ALCS (Yankees versus Rangers) in a battle of television ratings. Despite the much-hyped pitching match-up of Cliff Lee and Andy Pettitte, the Monday Night Football match-up, a 30-3 Titans blowout, drew more eyes to the television (7.2 rating) than the baseball playoff game (6.5).
Some went so far as to declare that “baseball officially died” that night. Others weren’t surprised with Chris Chase of Yahoo! Sports noting that “People. Like. Football. More. We all know this, it’s been true for years.”
So, should baseball be worried? Has the “America’s Pastime” label been passed from baseball to football? Kinda, but not really.
Listen, baseball is America’s wife, always there and ever loyal. From March until October, baseball is there almost every night. Baseball is a comfort zone. Baseball doesn’t need our undivided attention. It is perfectly content with being on the TV in the background while we clean the house or play with the kids or eat dinner with the family.
On the other hand, football is America’s mistress. It offers a level of excitement that baseball can rarely match. And that is simply because football only comes around for a few hours, about 20 times a year. But that doesn’t mean America loves football more.
This past season, the New York Yankees drew 3.8 million fans to Replica Yankee Stadium. In 2009, the Cowboys led the NFL in attendance with 718,000, or just 19.1 per cent of the number of tickets sold by the Yankees.
Of course, the Cowboys averaged nearly 89,756 per game while the Yankees were at 46,491. But the Cowboys would never outdraw the Yankees if they played 81 home games each year. And the Jaguars and Titans on Monday night would never outdraw the ALCS if the NFL also had games on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Also, most will admit that much of the NFL’s popularity is due to the popularity of gambling. You can be certain that many of the eyes watching the Monday night matchup had money riding on the outcome as gamblers were looking to make up for a bad Sunday or wanted one more payout from their strong weekend. If a person’s only interest in a particular game is whether or not a team beats the spread, that person is not a fan of the sport. They are a fan of gambling.
When push-comes-to-shove, Americans like their mistress, but they will always love their wife more. So enjoy the fling football. If America were ever forced to choose, the wife will win. And that is because baseball is, always will be, America’s Pastime.
Besides, popularity is overrated. Remember that the next time one of your buddies orders the number one beer in America (Bud Light).
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