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MLB Is Missing an Opportunity by Prolonging the Start of the Season

Major League Baseball’s newest proposal is set to be rejected by the Players Association despite the owners agreeing to make some concessions. MLB said that players would be paid 50% of their prorated salaries with 75% possible if the playoffs take place. However, the players are going to reject this proposal because it puts the risk of another COVID-19 outbreak on them instead of the owners. And so the negotiations continue to drag further and further into the summer. While there seems to be hope that the season will begin, nobody knows due to the deadlock because MLB and MLBPA. There have already been three rounds of proposals which has caused July 10 to be the earliest possible date for a restart. Additionally, Major League Baseball insists that the season must be completed by September 27 so that the playoffs do not stretch past early November as there is a danger that a stronger wave of COVID-19 could happen in colder weather.

July 10 to September 27 is a small window in which to play an entire season, and the longer these negotiations continue, the shorter the season will be. However, Major League Baseball is missing a massive opportunity by prolonging the season restart. Baseball is a sport that is already suffering from a decreasing fanbase, and these negotiations are certainly not endearing the sport to new fans as it is impossible for the league to gain new fans if it is not playing games. The league has been so focused on targeting a younger audience that it has put in place multiple new rules to try and speed up the pace of play. However, it would be so much easier to gain new fans by simply being the first sport to return to live games. An example of this is the German Bundesliga (German soccer league) which became the first major soccer league in the world to return to play. After the COVID-19 break ended and the first official game was completed, Fox Sports One, the exclusive provider of the league in the U.S., declared record viewership numbers. In fact, there was a 725% increase in viewership from the last game to be played before COVID and the first game to be played after COVID.

There are sports-starved fans across the country right now, and even if baseball is not the most watched sport in America anymore, it is definitely more established in the U.S. than German soccer. Being the first league to restart would allow Major League Baseball to have a virtual monopoly on live sports. It would be bound to see a massive increase in viewership as people across the country would tune in to watch live sports for the first time in months. However, by dragging these negotiations longer into the summer, MLB is missing a massive opportunity to generate new fans and endear itself to a younger generation.