.. rk in Boston and was built in 1912 and the oldest venue in the NFL is Soldier Field in Chicago and was built in 1924. I have visited both venues and will admit that there is something special about sitting in a stadium that was built 80 or 90 years ago and thinking about all the great players that have played there. I believe the evidence supports the argument that the NFL venues are truly larger and louder whereas MLB ballparks are known for their history. Player salaries are often claimed by team owner to be the single largest factor in the decision to raise ticket prices.
Player salaries are now so large that the American public cannot even make a comparison. The average player salary in MLB in 2000 was a little over two million per year with Alex Rodriguez leading the pack at $25,200,000 per year. The average player salary in the NFL in 2000 was 1.18 million dollars per year. Baseball players consistently make more money than their football counterparts due in large parts to the salary cap structures in the respective leagues. In the NFL each team must field a 53-person roster while keeping their salary under the 2001 salary cap of 67.4 million dollars, however in MLB there is no salary cap so players can make as much as possible. There used to be a system of luxury taxing in MLB but that system expired in 2000 so there are currently no salary obstacles to players in baseball.
The luxury tax system required the five baseball teams with the highest payrolls to pay a tax that helped to keep the playing field level between large and small market teams. However, with no type of salary control in use by MLB each player can receive as much money as an owner is willing to pay as evidenced by Alex Rodriguez’s huge salary. The NFL salary cap has been lauded as the sole reason that the NFL is so competitive and a different champion seems to emerge every year, however in baseball the same teams are near the top every year and it is no coincidence that the New York Yankees have won the World Series the last few years and they also have the largest payroll. A large market team such as the Yankees can afford to overpay players because they enjoy a bigger gate and larger television revenues than a team like the Montreal Expos. In the NFL all the money is disbursed equally and the salary cap helps to keep all teams competitive. Therefore, the league with the highest player salaries is not necessarily the league that offers the most competitive product. The only lesson to be learned here is that if you have an athletically gifted child you may want to direct that child towards baseball to maximize his/her payday.
Athlete perception in both sports plays a large part in attendance, television revenue, ticket costs, and several other areas within the NFL and MLB. Currently the players in the NFL are regarded as the most dangerous and out of control athletes. The recent dramas involving O.J. Simpson, Ray Carruth, and Ray Lewis have given the NFL a serious black mark among the fans. While baseball players are generally seen as a greedy bunch the football player is now seen as a criminal with little or no regard for the law. Domestic violence has now unfortunately become part of the NFL and MLB mainstream with several incidents documented in both leagues each year, yet the fans do not even seem to care about these incidents but rather focus on the more theatric, more serious, and more rare serious crimes. There are hundreds upon hundreds of domestic violence cases each year but only one stabbing outside an Atlanta nightclub involving Ray Lewis.
Guess which one the public remembers? The NFL and MLB have taken several steps to improve their images with advertising, meet the player campaigns, and community service and only time will tell if these attempts work but I believe for all the good that these players do and for all the positive publicity that these players may gather it will only take one player to ruin it all for that is the true nature of being a celebrity. Based upon the above information I believe that MLB players are currently seen in a better light than NFL players and as more favorable role models although they may be perceived as greedy. Entertainment value is hard to measure since there is no way to know for sure what people like to see. Obviously fans of one sport will claim their sport offers the best product. Both the NFL and MLB put a solid product on the field that is well attended, relatively affordable, and fun to watch. Therefore, it is my opinion that both sports offer equal entertainment value and neither should be condemned on this factor.
Both sports are so different that comparing their entertainment value would be unfair. As a spectator of both sports I am happy to report that I feel that both sports did an equal job in fulfilling my entertainment needs. I have examined both baseball and football from several different viewpoints and it my belief that football is truly the American pastime. Football enjoys larger average attendance, reasonable tickets costs given the season length, reasonable player salaries when compared to baseball, better overall venues, and football provides a thrilling and exciting product to watch. Football destroys baseball in television ratings and television revenue by demanding and getting television contracts that baseball can only dream about. And what is a better benchmark for popularity then television ratings? Plus football’s championship game, the Super Bowl, is part of pop culture in that practically everyone throws or attends a Super Bowl party each year. The Super Bowl is the highest rated broadcast on network television each year and serves as a gathering event for friends and families.
Some companies even give their employees the next day off, which means that the Super Bowl is practically on par with a national holiday. None of these things happen for baseball. While it is true that football does get a black mark in athlete perception I believe that it more than makes up for that in the other areas and while baseball is a relatively inexpensive medium for family gatherings the baseball games just don’t carry as much importance as football. Therefore, I believe my arguments support my conclusion that football is the true American pastime and on a separate not I cannot wait for September and the first kickoff of a new season! Sports and Games.