March 30, 2023
Major League Baseball’s 2023 Season
Marist Center for Sports Communication/Marist National Poll
Nearly Two in Three Baseball Fans See MLB’s Rule Changes as Positive… Growing Number of Americans Perceive Baseball as Boring
Major League Baseball has introduced new rule changes this season to try to speed up the game. With a positive reception from a majority of Americans and even more baseball fans, these adjustments may be coming at just the right time for the sport. While the proportion of Americans who proclaim themselves to be baseball fans is up to 55% from 44% in 2019, more Americans perceive baseball to be boring than exciting.
A majority of Americans (56%), including 64% of baseball fans nationally, think the MLB’s rule changes will help improve the game. Nearly three in ten Americans (28%), though, say these alterations are a break from tradition and will make the game worse. Regardless of demographic group, at least a plurality of Americans perceive the new rules to be positive. Americans under the age of 45 (68%) are the most optimistic about the rule changes in the MLB.
There are more members of the MLB fandom. A majority of Americans (55%), up from 44% in 2019, consider themselves to be baseball fans.
However, these changes come at a time when Americans’ perceptions of baseball’s excitement are tarnishing. 53% of Americans, up from 47% in 2014, describe baseball as boring. 43%, down from 50%, consider the sport to be exciting. Not surprisingly, baseball fans (70%) are more likely than Americans (43%), overall, to think baseball is exciting. Still, even more than one in four fans (28%) find the sport boring.
“The primary intention of the new rule changes is to speed up the pace of the game and, concurrently, increase ‘action’,” says Dr. Zachary W. Arth, Assistant Professor and Assistant Director of the Marist Center for Sports Communication. “It is a good sign that a majority of both baseball fans and Americans in general are on board with these changes and, if all goes according to plan for MLB, these new rules also make the game feel more exciting.”
The start of the MLB regular season comes fresh off of the World Baseball Classic. While 58% of self-proclaimed baseball fans report watching, at least a little, of the tournament, 41% of baseball fans did not watch any of it. In fact, just 11% of American baseball fans say they watched a great deal of the World Baseball Classic. Among Americans, overall, 66% say they did not follow the championship.
Americans under 45 years of age (46%) and men (39%) were more likely than older Americans (23%) and women (29%) to have watched or followed the World Baseball Classic.