How To Watch The Baseball Playoffs With Your Kids

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The baseball playoff divisional series are underway, and if you’re a fan, you may already be aware of the game’s biggest challenge: Young people aren’t watching. In 2013, ratings were up 12 percent, as was the average viewer age – by 3.5 years, to a creaky 54. Meanwhile, kids 6-17 made up just 4.6 percent of the audience, which is less than half of what the same demo makes up for English Premier League soccer games. Yep, kids like “fútbol” more than “America’s Pastime.”

If you want to try and reverse this trend, or if you’re just hoping to raise an excuse to watch more baseball as you get older, there’s no time like the present to create a fan. We spoke with Jon Weisman, Director of Digital and Print Content for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who launched a team blog back in 2002 — when being a team blogger meant being a regular fan with a television and a big vocabulary. Weisman has a 12-year-old-daughter, a 10-year-old son and a 6-year-old son, all of whom grew up with baseball on the TV. He has 5 quick tips on getting your kids interested in the game.

Introduce Them To The Characters“I look at baseball as a long-running epic movie, and the more you can get them invested in a character, the more they might care about it on a day-to-day basis. They’ll get excited to see those people because the recognize them and it’s no longer this anonymous, esoteric entity that they’re rooting for because you told them to.”

By The Numbers“Baseball and math go hand-in-hand – a lot of kids first learn how to do division by calculating batting averages. That part can be intriguing, so explain to them all the stuff that’s on the scoreboard – not just the runs – and what it means.”

Offense, Not Defense
“They’re not going to be interested in a pitching duel. My kids aren’t to the point where a Dodger striking a guy out is as exciting as a home run. Action captures their attention – they’ll note when a run scores.”

Hope For Some Magic

“There has to be some kind of unforgettable moment, and you can’t plan for that. I do think the increased intensity of the playoffs will be an eye-opener for my kids, and if there’s a great bit of heroics by a Dodger, that’s going to make a big impression.”

Accept That You Have No Say In The Matter
“You can’t force your kids to watch sports on TV; they’re interested in what they’re interested in. I have trouble explaining any parts of the game that are nuanced to them, and it’s not because they can’t grasp it; they just don’t care enough to. They’re smart – they can shoot videos on an iPhone and then edit them in iMovie – so they’re motivated by and passionate about that.”

Kids Like Home Runs, So Have Them Watch:

  • Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays (41 regular season dingers)
  • Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays (40)
  • Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays (39)
  • Yoenis Cespedes, New York Mets (35)
  • Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs (31)
  • Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals (28)
  • Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles Dodgers (28)
  • Lucas Duda, New York Mets (27)
  • Evan Gattis, Houston Astros (27)

Kids Like Stolen Bases, So Have Them Watch:

  • Jose Altuve, Houston Astros (38 regular season steals)
  • Ben Revere, Toronto Blue Jays (31)
  • Lorenzo Cain, Kansas City Royals (28)
  • Jarrod Dyson, Kansas City Royals, (26)
  • Alvis Andrus, Texas Rangers (25)
  • Delino DeShields, Texas Rangers (25)
  • Kevin Pillar, Toronto Blue Jays (25)
  • Jake Marisnick, Houston Astros (24)

Finally, When In Doubt: Hot Dogs

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Ultimately, the best way to grow a baseball fan is to ensure your kids have positive associations with the game, and if you can’t get them interested in watching you can probably get them interested in eating. Try recreating this exhaustive hot dog taste test, which features 9 popular grocery store brands. That’s one for every inning.

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