Jul 5, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) signs an autograph before the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /
Instead of focusing on building up the youth fanbase, the MLB – including teams like the Detroit Tigers – needs to add female fans.
Over the past few years, the MLB has focused on gaining young fans and they are at it again. According to the latest USA Todayarticle by Bob Nightengale, Commissioner Rob Manfred and his special advisor Cal Ripken, Jr. are looking at ways to add young fans to the game.
The article claims that the average baseball fan is 56 years old. The powers-that-be in the MLB seem to always talk about ways to add young fans to the game, but they tend to neglect that women and girls are out there, too. All MLB teams need to look for ways to add female fans (and not just the kids) – including the Detroit Tigers.
To draw in younger fans, the MLB is actually discussing changing some of the rules, like putting a player on first at the beginning of the each inning. Or forcing players to steal. This is just wrong. The game is great and has been for decades. It should not be changed to gain fans.
So what should teams like the Detroit Tigers do to add female fans? This female fan has a few ideas:
Oct 5, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers fans and hold up signs against the Baltimore Orioles during game three of the 2014 ALDS baseball playoff game at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /
Treat female fans like fans. Women do not need to have special days or pink shirts given out. We don’t need fluffy boas or special fashion shows. This just separates us from the rest of the crowd – the men. We don’t need a special GNO event just to get us to the park. These gimmicks make it look like baseball is not good enough to draw fans on its own.
Make the players interesting. As a female fan, I absolutely love learning about the players. I might not remember every single statistic (and why should I when I can look them all up), but I love reading about the history of the game, lives of the players, and the experiences of playing the game. I love watching the big screen at Comerica Park when the players share a special memory or they talk about something conversational. Those little moments make the players more than just guys on a field playing ball – they become real men who have real lives off of the field. I love the interviews at the end of the games. I love seeing Miguel Cabrera and Anibal Sanchez playing tricks on their teammates or joking around on MLB Network. I even enjoy reading the Tweets between Justin Verlander and his little brother. I want to know the guys I’m cheering for.
Let women be fans
. As a female fan, I get a lot of men (especially the older ones) who have to show off their knowledge of the game – like it’s a competition. Of course, baseball, like all other professional sports, have been the domain of men, but it is 2016 and women can enjoy sports, too. Women should not have to prove their knowledge of the game to be accepted as fans.
Oct 28, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; ESPN analyst Jessica Mendoza on the field before game two of the 2015 World Series between the Kansas City Royals and the New York Mets at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports /
Put some women in the game. Even as a woman, I’m not ready to see women playing on the field, but I am ready to see them in administrative, scouting, and media roles. I sure did love seeing and hearing Jessica Mendoza announcing the AL Wild Card Game last year. She knew what she was doing and it was refreshing to hear a woman talking about the game. (I’d listen to her any day over Joe Buck and grumpy Jack Morris.) What I don’t need to see is a scantily clad woman talking about baseball, especially when all the men are covered up.
Put some money into fast-pitch softball. If the young fans who play baseball will become baseball fans, so will the young softball players. These girls are dedicated to their game and sadly, very few will ever make enough money to live off of the sport they love. The MLB spends big bucks recruiting all over the globe, but they completely neglect the fact that women are trying to be professional ball players, too. Young women who are fans of the National Pro Fastpitch could easily become baseball fans, especially if the MLB sponsored NPF teams. If the Detroit Tigers sponsored a sister team of professional softball players in Detroit, the female fanbase would increase exponentially. With a fast-pitch team in each city, the fanbases of both sports would increase dramatically. A little respect goes a long way.
If the MLB can draw more women to the games, they will get their younger audience, too. Moms who love baseball will have children who love baseball. Women who love baseball will bring their friends, boyfriends, husbands, etc., to games. Girls who love baseball will grow up to be women who love baseball. It’s a circle of fans that the Boys of Summer should not neglect.