Baseball has a popularity problem, and it’s selling out because of it.
Despite this year’s World Series Game 7 between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians recording the highest ratings for baseball in 25 years (mainly through the Cubs’ presence), Major League Baseball has had difficulty appealing to a new generation of fans.
In the 1960s, baseball fans deserted the game for the physicality of football. Now, it seems through the one-man show element, and urban appeal basketball possesses that the NFL and NBA have grown more among young viewers. Baseball’s tried to modernize, whether it be through speeding up the game with clocks on meetings at the pitcher’s mound or between innings, and emphasizing social media use.
Well, now, baseball is pandering to the darkest corridors of the millennial world, the liberal social justice warriors (SJWs). The time-honored rookie hazing ritual of dressing up as different characters will be missing one group, women.
“Major League Baseball created an Anti-Hazing and Anti-Bullying Policy that covers the practice. As part of the sport’s new labor deal, set to be ratified by both sides on Tuesday, the players’ union agreed to not contest it.
“The policy, obtained by The Associated Press, prohibits teams from ‘requiring, coercing or encouraging; players to engage in activities that include ‘dressing up as women or wearing costumes that may be offensive to individuals based on their race, sex, nationality, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or other characteristic.'”
Also, the policy cracks down on specific categories of bullying, as Deadspin reports, “The policy, which Deadspin has obtained a copy of, doesn’t just ban dressing like a woman. It includes language that bans forcing rookies to drink alcohol or take drugs, encouraging taunting or excessive exercise, and coercing rookies to do things that are illegal or dangerous. The proposal also includes an anti-bullying clause that states: ‘Players may not engage in a pattern of verbal or physical conduct that is designed to demean, disgrace or cause mental or physical harm to a member of his club.'”
The “illegal or dangerous” part might have something to do with an incident many took as sexual violence in the Dominican Republic between Texas Rangers teammates. However, baseball’s response to building off one of its best postseasons and World Series in years is to take part of the fun out of the game, and especially the social media aspect of the sport.
Players, unlike Miami Dolphins’ Jonathan Martin, haven’t been running away from the game because of humiliation from specific hazing incidents. However, MLB VP Paul Mifsud told the AP that “Although it hasn’t happened, you could sort of see how like someone might even dress up in blackface and say, ‘Oh, no, we were just dressing up. We’ve also understood that a number of players have complained about it.”
Martin infamously left the Dolphins in 2013 for what he cited as emotional reasons. Later, it was revealed that Martin was on the receiving end of bullying from then-teammate Richie Incognito, which included several racially offensive and threatening texts.
It’s rather hard to base a policy on something that you admit hasn’t happened yet. Naturally, the new policy has had its critics, such as retired two-time World Champion Kevin Youkilis:
Seriously?! Had to wear a Hooters outfit going through customs in Toronto and wore it proudly bc I was in the Show. https://t.co/xswNVAOaKQ— Kevin Youkilis (@KYouk_2036) December 13, 2016
There’s no doubt modern social culture and politics are becoming more intertwined with sports. Putting the TV or radio out back on the deck, and listening to America’s pastime on a warm summer night are going out the window. This is another step baseball’s taking away from the pastures and towards college quad climates.