Michael Kazin: Why Baseball is the Best—And Least Exploitative—American Sport
Michael Kazin is the author, most recently, of American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation. He teaches history at Georgetown University and is co-editor of Dissent.
Since the 1960s, professional football has supplanted baseball as our nation’s favorite sport—generating higher revenue and better television ratings. And, as the past few weeks have demonstrated, college basketball has captured the attention and diminished the productivity of the American workforce in ways baseball does not. But let’s not confuse popularity with superiority.
Major League Baseball (MLB), the oldest spectator team sport in the nation, has become the most affordable and least exploitative one—and its labor relations are remarkably harmonious, too. Compared to the dysfunction, scandal, and discontent commonplace in other professional sport, baseball is looking better than ever.
Let’s start with cost: A family with a middle-class income can attend a baseball game without straining its budget but has to think hard before splurging for an afternoon or evening spent inside an NFL stadium or an NBA or NHL arena. In 2011, the average price of an MLB ticket was about $27, compared to over $48 for a pro basketball game, $57 for a hockey match, and a whopping $113 for one ticket to a gridiron bruise-a-thon....
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