(CNN)Major League Baseball is finally back. Despite a lockout and delay in Opening Day, the players are actually going to take the field. When my father, born in 1927, was my age, Opening Day was one of the biggest events on the sports calendar.
Why is baseball no longer America's Game?
For his son, it's just another day. It's not that I don't like baseball -- I do. It's that baseball is not the sport that stands out above all others in my mind.
My family's story is part of a larger one about America's declining interest in baseball and generational replacement.
The sport, which was once the most popular in the country, has a bevy of problems that has landed it, at best, a distant second place in America's hearts. This is especially true among America's youth.
Just 11% of adults listed baseball as their favorite sport to watch in a 2021 Washington Post poll. That put it well behind football (34%) and tied with basketball for the second favorite sport. Soccer and "something else" (e.g. esports/competitive video gaming) were closely behind at 7%.
When examining the poll more in-depth, the problem baseball has becomes both more apparent -- and even scarier. A mere 7% of those under the age of 30 say baseball is their favorite sport. This ranked fifth behind football (24%), basketball (17%), "something else" (12%) and soccer (10%).
To put baseball's overall 11% in perspective, there were many more fans of baseball the last time there was a work stoppage in 1994. In an average of Gallup polls that year, 19% of Americans said baseball was their favorite sport.
While the 1994 baseball strike may have hurt the sport's popularity, the truth is baseball had been on the decline for a while. Baseball hadn't ranked as America's favorite sport to watch since 1960, when 34% said it was. Soccer that year came in at less than 0.5%, while football picked up 21% support. By the next poll Gallup did on the subject in 1972, baseball was second to football.
The fact that 1960 is the last time baseball reigned supreme is notable. The sports landscape has changed dramatically from 62 years ago.
One big reason baseball no longer finds itself the darling of American sports is competition and the dawn of the television age.
The NFL didn't sign its first league-wide TV contract until 1962; it led to every game being on television and each team receiving a share of the revenue pie. This came around the same time that the AFL -- a rival league which would eventually merge with the NFL -- started play and signed its own league-wide TV deal.
After this point, this meant that over 20 teams had their contests televised, and the country had universal access to the pro game. Additionally, the Super Bowl would begin in 1967. The NFL, of course, is a sport that benefits tremendously from being seen. Baseball, on the other hand, doesn't gain as much going from radio to television.
Another sport which is better visually than audibly is basketball. The NBA was less than 15 years old in 1960. There were just eight NBA teams at that point -- half the size of either professional baseball or football. The NBA Finals wouldn't be aired in their entirety nationally until 1970.
The country was years away from a successful professional soccer league in 1960 -- let alone the incarnation of the MLS. Now, a soccer fan can watch games from here and those across the Atlantic Ocean -- the English Premier League and the UEFA Champions League, for example -- with ease.