Football Takes Its Place as National Pastime

Barry Rothbard

America’s pastime, Major League Baseball, has become just that: a thing of the past.For more than a century, baseball has reigned over all other professional sports. That reign is no more.

There are a myriad of reasons for baseball’s demise, but the concrete proof lies in the numbers (or, in this case, the ratings). This year’s World Series set a record for the lowest ratings ever (surpassing last year’s all time low), as only an average of 15.8 million people tuned in for a dull Series that made fans crow for another incident involving Janet Jackson’s tata.

Last Monday night, the National Football League set another record when over 16 million people tuned in to watch the New York Giants dismantle the Dallas Cowboys.While this game was undoubtedly an important intra-division rivalry match, its importance was by no means relative to that of the World Series. Evidently, there has been a changing of the guard, as Monday Night Football has been averaging record amounts of viewers this year, and the World Series ratings continue to decline.

Clearly, the NFL has become the new face of American sports. And it has the MLB to thank. Steroids have seemingly put a damper on this country’s former pastime. They have given baseball a stigma that will take years and maybe even decades to erase. Additionally, without steroids in the game, baseball has unfortunately become much duller. Teams are scoring less, and no one is hitting more than 60 home runs on a consistent basis anymore. Sure, baseball has its young, powerful superstars like Albert Pujols and Ryan Howard, but even they are not immune to the skeptics. Furthermore, the powerful dynasties that turned the MLB into what it was are long gone. It seems inconceivable that a team will ever manage to win championships in three out of four years like the Yankees of the 90s did, let alone to win back-to-back championships like so many teams have in the past. Baseball is fighting an uphill battle.

While the NFL has its share of problems too, like rising star Shawn Merriman’s positive steroid test and countless off-field arrests (just look at Cincinnati Bengals’ wide receiver Chris Henry’s rap sheet), it is still on the rise. People are willing to overlook these offenses, which seem minor and far less frequent than those of the MLB. The NFL just has much more going for it. It has two reliable, flawless, GQesque front men in Tom Brady and Peyton Manning that people can admire (a little better than Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa, I’d say). And it has its share of exciting, rising stars too. LaDainian Tomlinson, Larry Johnson, Steve Smith, Reggie Bush, and Lawrence Maroney are but a few of the established and rising stars of the NFL that record amounts of viewers want to see. Watching these astounding athletes knife through defenses on their way for 50-yard touchdown runs is just awesome to see. The home run has become antiquated. People would simply rather watch athletes dart down the field with reckless abandon and try to bowl over defenders than watch athletes whose integrity is in question trot around a field in a leisurely manner.

The NFL has replaced the MLB as the hottest attraction and most appealing view in sports today, and there’s another league out there too with some guys named LeBron, Dwayne, and Carmelo who might show that the MLB isn’t even the second best thing in sports today.