Little League Baseball, ESPN, and Youth Soccer

Discussion in 'Business and Media' started by USAsoccer, Aug 13, 2002.

  1. USAsoccer

    USAsoccer Member

    Jul 15, 1999
    Tampa, Florida
    It has been with increasing interest that I now notice that ESPN is televising the 8 Regional finals of Little League baseball for U-12.

    Not being a baseball fan in any way shape or form, I wonder how much of this is driven by my prejudice against the game that I consider gawd-awfully boring.

    1) About four 12 year olds play soccer for every kid who picks up a glove (that is conservative).

    2) In light of that, how much is this driven by a group of decisionmakers who are out and out baseball fans, and will do anything they can to help promote and prop up the game... To wit, ESPN programming execs....

    I STIPULATE THE FOLLOWING:
    I bet the ratings for these little league games exceed anything else in their timeslots. I also bet that the audience is better than MLS, WNBA, or NHL hockey. Given that, I know that most of you will say that it is simply a numbers game.

    3) Having said that (paragraph above), if the ratings are driven by watching children play adult games, than why does ESPN not hook onto the U-17 world youth cup.

    a) The World Cup, I beleive, has acheived, in the minds of programmers, Major League Sports Status (In other words, the potential to be consider a big time rating event like the NFL, World Series, NBA playoffs, and Major College Football bowls and games. This is backed up historically, and in the right circumstances, can draw big numbers -See WWC 1999, 1994 World Cup)

    b) Given that premise, why not look for an event that combines the two elements. What do you get.... The Under 17 World Cup. The same event that brought us Landon Donovan and DeMarcus Beasley.

    4) Of course, this brings me full circle. ESPN (or whomever "they" are who controls what is put out on the airwaves, whether that be radio or TV) will not go one half inch out of their way to promote soccer, the same way they promote baseball. It is simply not in "their" self interest.

    It will not change until people whose mindset is similar to mind (and other soccer fans) assume positions of power (e.g. Ansultz and SUM).

    Thank you for this rant. Let the hairsplitting begin!
     
  2. MNAFETSC

    MNAFETSC Member

    Feb 5, 2000
    Blacksburg
    the little league world series is a tradition in america and the u17 world cup isnt...thats why
    do other countries even get worked up about the u17 world cup?
     
  3. Deleted USer

    Deleted USer Member+

    Jan 7, 2001
    well said

    the little league world series is cool :D

    but the U17 WC is not a major event. People are still going to go to work the next day after thier teams wins.

    I am well aware of the fact that a lot of kids play soccer in the US... but playing and viewing are to totally different things.

    The success of the WWC and the WC in the US is widely noted... but the still treat the game of soccer as an event. like the olympics.

    Other than the olympics... when do you watch Womens's Gymnastics? Or Track and Field?

    On any other day... I would flip the channel. Track and Field is boring to watch.... but its something abou the Olympics, World Cup, that makes you watch it..

    MLS execs have to realise that. They cant go based on the ratings of the WC. IF that was the case.... Gymansitcs would be next in line for a professional lueague and prime time rela estate on the tube
     
  4. USAsoccer

    USAsoccer Member

    Jul 15, 1999
    Tampa, Florida
    MNA....

    That was not the point of the post. Rather, the point was viewing things from the opposite angle.

    The little league world series is less an event of tradtion than it is more a product of hype in today's television era.

    When you begin broadcasting every single game form the Sweet 16 on, we should all stop to pause and ask ourselves what the heck is going on here!

    WE ARE TALKING 12 YEAR OLDS...

    QUESTION: How far removed are we from the "Little League game of the week" with color commentary and such?
     
  5. USAsoccer

    USAsoccer Member

    Jul 15, 1999
    Tampa, Florida
    RD... You obviously where not watching TV Saturday night in PRIME TIME....

    You know what NBC televised....

    The US Gymnastic finals...

    I do not want this to become a debate about TV ratings and MLS....

    Rather, I think I would like to debate

    1) What gets Televised, and
    2) Why, and
    3) Why the decision to televise 12 year olds hitting a baseball vice other sports with large following (or participation rates) and
    4) Is it wise to Televise every single game leading up to the Championship game (which traditionally was the only game televised)
     
  6. Deleted USer

    Deleted USer Member+

    Jan 7, 2001
    IT just goes back to demand. Plain and simple.

    Soccer fans in the US need to realize that.

    And yes, I am aware that more kids play soccer in the US than little league baseball... but answer me this one... do you think most of those kids are playing our of ther own accord?

    Most of the kids that played soccer just played it. They would watch basbeall and football and basketball on TV.
     
  7. USAsoccer

    USAsoccer Member

    Jul 15, 1999
    Tampa, Florida
    RD...

    There is soooooooo much wrong with your last post, that I feel you must be trolling.....

    I will leave it to others to debate you.

    You obviously do not have children...try making a kid do something he does not want... If it where true, everykid would learn to play piano!
     
  8. notebook

    notebook Member

    Jun 25, 2002
    I think the major reason is the lack of advertising time available during soccer games. I actually think it is possible to drum up a respectable amount of viewing interest for something like the U17 world championship, at least for the US team's games. Frankly it sounds more compelling than watching the MetroStars on Soccer Saturday. But the broadcasters probably figure "Why bother?" since even if you could successfully promote the games they would not lead to significant revenue for the network.
     
  9. CUS

    CUS New Member

    Apr 20, 2000
    I would be willing to bet that the vast majority of ESPN viewers tuning into the LLWS actually PLAYED baseball when they were 12 and are reliving their youth.

    These same Joe 6Pax did NOT play soccer. This is comparing apples to oranges. Televising the U17 Championships would be a disaster.
     
  10. Deleted USer

    Deleted USer Member+

    Jan 7, 2001
    RD... You obviously where not watching TV Saturday night in PRIME TIME....

    You know what NBC televised....

    The US Gymnastic finals...


    Finals? hmmmmmmm

    I do not want this to become a debate about TV ratings and MLS....

    eventually that is where it always ends up. This is a soccer messageboard. And most of the users here are MLS fans and most of them show thier dislikings in respect to US soccer coverage in the US.

    But i dont plan to make it into one either

    Rather, I think I would like to debate

    1) What gets Televised, and
    2) Why, and
    3) Why the decision to televise 12 year olds hitting a baseball vice other sports with large following (or participation rates) and
    4) Is it wise to Televise every single game leading up to the Championship game (which traditionally was the only game televised) [/B]

    What gets televised? What the people want.

    Why? Preference. Doesnt matter how wierd or absurd a product may be.. if it sells. they will produce more of it.

    Why televise 12 year old kids playing baseball? Tradition and its in American culture to want to see your son be a little league allstar



    What is wrong with watching or ESPN having the little league WS? Too many times i hear US soccer fans talk about ESPN/ABC screwing over soccer fans and not paying attention to their demands. Or even neglecting them.

    I dont see ESPN neglecting anything. They are paying attention to the masses.

    ESPN i also does the same with thier international viewers.

    When i was watching a major league basbeall game a couple years back...ESPNi cut the programming and went straight into a EUFA Cup game. ITs just what the masses want..
     
  11. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

    Sep 2, 1999
    Out West
    Club:
    FC Tampa Bay Rowdies
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Those things that make money, or, barring that, give prestige to the televising networks or allow them to promote their other programming.

    Because they make money, or, they allow the televising networks to claim they have such and such an event or to promote their other programming.

    I assume you specifically mean soccer, but the answer would be, "because those other sports with large followings (or participation rates) haven't proven themselves to be hugely popular spectator sports."

    They'll televise whatever they think they can sell, you know? If they couldn't sell it, they wouldn't show it.

    My problem with televising so much of the Little League World Series (and its preliminaries) is putting 12-year old kids into a situation where they're no longer just kids having fun (which is the whole point at that age), but kids thrust into television dramas, covered by adults the way they cover $10 million ballplayers.

    When the kid struck out for the Texas team to end the game the other night, we saw the exultation of the winning team, but then saw the kid who struck out walking away with his head down. I can only imagine what he felt like, and it's amplified by the fact he's on national television. Now, when you're 28 and making $5.6 million a year and you strike out to end a playoff game, well, that's one thing. That's a day at the office, and he'll get over it. I have a problem with asking a 12-year-old kid to just "get over it" when his failure is all over national TV.

    The championship game? Well, that's a bit different. That's a cool one-time thing (or, it used to be). Chance of a lifetime. You're in Williamsport, the place is packed on a beautiful August day, you get interviewed by Orel Hershiser or whoever, and the day is one big dream (or so I'm guessing). Having your game on TV used to be something you didn't dare even dream about, you'd be crazy to. Kids today are going to expect that TV exposure is their birthright if we keep putting them on ESPN when they're 12 and expecting them to handle things like adults. The last thing we need is for our already-overprivileged (for the most part) progeny to grow up to become the next generation of greedy athletes.
     
  12. USAsoccer

    USAsoccer Member

    Jul 15, 1999
    Tampa, Florida
    Kenn:

    As usual... Well said!

    I still beleive, however, that the decesion to televise all these games, while completely based in all the things that everyone has pointed out, also indicated, IMHO, a bais toward baseball.

    I give the following Hypothesis.

    If you televised and promoted the U-17 World Youth Cup, concentrating specifically on the US games, and the Finals... The ratings would be similiar.

    I further states that if the US U-17 team played in the Championship game, and it was Televised on ABC at the exact same time that ABC will Televised the Little League World Series Championship game between the US and whoever wins the World round robin, that the rating would be

    a) The same, or
    b) better.

    If all things, to include hype, are equal.

    Tell me I am wrong... I am sure someone would!

    And if that is true (that I am not wrong), then explain to me what factor is holding ABC/ESPN/whoever back other than, IMHO, a hidden prejudice against soccer (I am not a conspiracy theorist type either)
     
  13. Deleted USer

    Deleted USer Member+

    Jan 7, 2001
    My problem with televising so much of the Little League World Series (and its preliminaries) is putting 12-year old kids into a situation where they're no longer just kids having fun (which is the whole point at that age), but kids thrust into television dramas, covered by adults the way they cover $10 million ballplayers.

    nothing wrong with that. Thats why they play the game. Becaue its fun and they want to be like the guys they see on the tube

    When the kid struck out for the Texas team to end the game the other night, we saw the exultation of the winning team, but then saw the kid who struck out walking away with his head down. I can only imagine what he felt like, and it's amplified by the fact he's on national television. Now, when you're 28 and making $5.6 million a year and you strike out to end a playoff game, well, that's one thing. That's a day at the office, and he'll get over it. I have a problem with asking a 12-year-old kid to just "get over it" when his failure is all over national TV.

    If daddy did not teach you how to take the good with the bad, then you have no business playing the beautiful game of baseball.

    "There is no crying in baseball" Those words are so true.

    Baseball is a game where you fail 80% of the time. The ones who fail 70% of the time are considered greats. And those who failed 60% are legends. Those who fail 50%, well, we have never seen one.

    Now, if you did not know that as a 12 year old kid... then you will never know it.

    I dont sypathize forthe kid. Striking out is part of the game. And if you cant accpet that, then play another game. TV or no TV
     
  14. SoFla Metro

    SoFla Metro Member

    Jul 21, 2000
    Ft. Lauderdale, FL
    You stole Christmas from Whoville, didn't you?
     
  15. kwikstah

    kwikstah New Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    You could very well be right.

    However, your argument here is that because ESPN/ABC isn't willing to do this, they must be biased.

    ESPN, ABC, those guys are running a business. If they believed soccer would sell, they would. However, at this point, there's no reason to believe that viewers would really care about a U-17 World Cup.

    Then you state that they would if ESPN hyped it up. Well, that costs money to advertise the event, and then it'll cost more money to try to convince advertisers to sponsor it.

    With that in mind, ESPN is making a safer move by allocating those resources I've just discussed and investing in a product that is more proven to draw attention.

    Also, does ESPN have rights to the U-17? If not, then why aren't you asking why some other company picks it up, since you assert the event has lots of upside. And if they do, then why isn't some other comapny trying to buy those rights, for the same reason.
     
  16. jmeissen0

    jmeissen0 New Member

    Mar 31, 2001
    page 1078
    going off the ratings banter of above... the LLWS had incredible ratings last year because of that illegal kid

    espn noticed those ratings and figured it would still carry over, or enough that will justify the increased number of games


    personally, i have never watched the llws... i see no reason to start now
     
  17. JG

    JG Member+

    Jun 27, 1999
    1. The LLWS and the U-17 WC aren't analogous events. The whole charm of the LLWS is that the teams represent towns, or parts of towns, and it's a grassroots event.

    2. If someone wanted to televisesome sort of youth world championship, wouldn't it make a lot more sense to televise something like the World Junior Basketball Championship, where the players on the US team are already famous?
     
  18. TOTC

    TOTC Member

    Feb 20, 2001
    Laurel, MD, USA
    Precisely!

    Used to be that there was just one game a year, Wide World of Sports. Now, you have every regional final, every pool game, the U.S. championship, and the grand final. Friggin hype.

    I hope there are more scandals this year to TRASH THE BASEBALL NIMBLENUTS AND PUT THEM IN THEIR PLACE.

    (in comparison, ESPN only gives LL softball the back of its hand...)
     
  19. QPR Kevin H

    QPR Kevin H BigSoccer Supporter

    May 23, 2001
    Silver Spring, MD
    Club:
    Queens Park Rangers FC
    Nat'l Team:
    Ireland Republic
    Dear lord - is inadequacy so high on these boards that Little League must now be attacked? Take it flippin easy. I dont necessarily agree with tons of regional coverage - but its a nice event for kids (and for grown ups that dreamt of being in their shoes as kids). Something that I've watched since I started playing baseball as a 5 year old. I know, I know - you all hated baseball and were the kids picking your nose in left field.

    Do you really want U-17 soccer taking its place? Right when the sport is starting to carve out a nice niche every four years - do you think that it replacing 12 year olds on TV will do anything for middle america's view of it?

    Jeez lets be glad that soccer is on when it is - no need to attack friendly, traditional events cause the U-17's arent on in prime time.
     
  20. Paul Schmidt

    Paul Schmidt Member

    Feb 3, 2001
    Portland, Oregon!
    The one igit who runs a local sports talk show in Boise made an interesting comment a couple years ago, and it leads me to the following question:

    What would be a better TV draw, the U17 worlds, or the U12 nationals?

    The host didn't pose this question, but noted that he was hearing about this discrepancy, not from the soccer fans, but from the soccer moms.

    I think part of the appeal of these broadcasts is, in a word, innocence. Well, at least when ABC started into LLWS, that was part of the concept. ESPN will kill this goose eventually, if it hasn't already started. When everything is level, however, I think this kind of transcends sports, at least to a small degree.

    Also, note what happens with youth soccer in America. Most clubs have a whole ton of 12-year-olds playing, then have a rather skinny roster for the older kids. Add to that the foreigners already under pro contract (bound to be mentioned), and I tend to think that the U17 Worlds won't get the audience being sought for this kind of television.

    It's a thought worth kicking out there, anyway.
     
  21. Tejas

    Tejas Member+

    Jun 3, 2000
    Tejas
    Thought this article was humorous and appropriate for this thread somehow. :)

    "Perhaps the telecasts wouldn't be quite so distasteful if the network would lighten up and acknowledged that the subjects are a few outs away from toting Trapper Keepers and memorizing locker combinations. Instead, we get irony-deprived announcers spewing statistics, critiquing managerial strategy, turning every infield fly into a referendum on character. "A lot of times kids practice and they're just tossing the ball back and forth," former major leaguer Tom Candiotti, an ESPN talking seamhead, told viewers. "But when you're on the field, you have to go 100 percent." Later in the broadcast, when a Hawaii player dropped a crucial popup, announcer Dave Ryan, employing the faux gravitas usually reserved for Middle East terrorism updates, informed us: "One miscue can be absolutely crucial." After an Idaho player grounded out to shortstop, Ryan noted, "That's 6-3, if you're scoring at home." (If you're scoring a Little League game at home, please, for the love of God, get help.)"

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/inside_game/jon_wertheim/news/2002/08/13/wertheim_insider/
     
  22. CrazyF.C.

    CrazyF.C. New Member

    Jun 15, 2001
    Washington D.C.
    the only thing I can say is that this proves that baseball is just a spectacle sport and not a spectator sport. There is no such thing as quality baseball, just quality hype.

    oh, and all the kids are fat who play in these leagues. Maybe they're the kids who were too slow to play soccer and will grow up defending themselves by saying soccer is for pansys...
     
  23. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

    Sep 2, 1999
    Out West
    Club:
    FC Tampa Bay Rowdies
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Machismo can be a terrible thing.

    Unless I'm reading you wrong, this equation breaks down like this: all things being equal, soccer would be as popular as baseball. I can't see that. I just can't.

    And I can't for the life of me come up with some sort of evidence that would make me believe that a soccer game with U-17 players would garner anywhere near what the LLWS final gets.

    Last year's Little League World Series championship game on ABC got a 5.9 rating and was third in the sports ratings for the week. Those are almost NFL numbers (though I'm sure some jacknut will tell me why it's apples and orangutans or something).

    There is not a soccer game you can come up with short of a semifinal or final of the World Cup involving the US that I could ever see getting a 5.9 rating on ABC on a Sunday afternoon. None.

    And it's not because of hype, and it's not because of promotion, and it's not because of a conspiracy, and it's not because ABC doesn't like soccer, it's because soccer is nowhere near as popular as baseball is in this country. There is no objective standard of popularity as a spectator sport that can lead you to any other conclusion.

    Now, if big soccer matches on ABC involving the US (the senior National Team, no less) can't even get a 5 cable rating---though the USA/Germany did tremendously well---what on Earth makes you think that a U-17 team (quick, ask someone on the street to name someone on the U-17's) game would get a rating that high.

    As much as I'd like to see it, I just can't see it. Why can you? Where is the evidence that that might happen?
     
  24. diablodelsol

    diablodelsol Member+

    Jan 10, 2001
    North Ridgeville, OH

    Fine....let's assume the ratings would be the same.

    ESPN then goes to sell the ad time based on those (projected) ratings. Given the number of people the ratings represent, a 30 second ad will cost you $X.

    Here's the rub, how many 30 second ads can you sell in a two hour baseball game? How many in a two hour soccer game?

    Given two hours of programming, what are you gonna broadcast?
     
  25. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

    Sep 2, 1999
    Out West
    Club:
    FC Tampa Bay Rowdies
    Nat'l Team:
    United States

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