Major League Baseball’s efforts at bringing baseball and softball to every American home are being seen as plans to mobilize the youth and encourage greater participation for one of America’s oldest and most popular sports. As an extremely positive display of their intent, MLB is enlisting the affiliated Minor leagues as a part of the third major phase of their youth engagement drive.
Minor league Baseball has become an official partner for the Play Ball weekend, scheduled for June 3rd-4th. As a precursor to this partnership, there will be a launch party to further concretize the combined efforts of MLB and MiLB. The kickoff event will be held on June 2nd at Class AAA Oklahoma City Dodgers Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
With the MiLB drawing an attendance of 41 million each year for the past 12 years, the MLB believes that the inclusion of the minor league as a part of the Play Ball campaign would significantly raise the stakes. This would give a huge boost to the Play Ball’s campaign of encouraging higher youth participation, as it is estimated that nearly three-fourths of Americans live within the periphery of an affiliated Minor League Club.
How have these initiatives helped?
These initiatives have been a sustained effort from the time of MLB commissioner Bud Selig, who oversaw programs to revive baseball in inner cities. These, coupled with Play Ball’s efforts since 2015 to include MILB in their campaign, have helped expand their reach to an additional 160 markets.
The MiLB, prior to being a part of this campaign, were known to have a direct connection with families and children, further amplifying the message that MLB and Play Ball want to send across. The Sports and Fitness Industry Association has reported to MLB club owners that there has been a considerable spike in participation with baseball participation. A 7.7% rise in 2016 and a 8.1% rise in slow-pitch softball participation. This doesn’t include the casual participation that these sports are witnessing, which would only raise the figure.
The MLB has looked at these numbers as an extremely positive sign of things to come and are sure of seeing an expanding youth base, attracting the best talent across America.