I was sitting around the house the other day bemoaning the fact that I never really made it "big" financially in my life, although some might suggest that sitting around the house probably has something to do with it.
But since I don't really like where that conversation is headed, I think I will take us in a different direction. I decided to check out who the 100 richest athletes in the world were, and where all their moola came from.
I was surprised to learn that the list wasn't topped by MLB players, since I've always been led to believe the MLB palyers had the best (aka "guaranteed") contracts and the NFL and NBA simply hadn't been fortunate enough to obtain MLB-type contracts.
Au contraire, mon ami. Turns out that I'd been lied to, since 40 percent of the top 100 (check my math – and don't forget to carry the one) equates to 40 players, and they come from the NBA, not MLB.
Next on the list comes the NFL – that's right, I said the N-F-L, with 18 players. The poor, pathetic NFL, with relatively little bargaining power in terms of guaranteed contracts when compared to MLB, somehow grabbed second place on the list.
Lo and behold, Major League Baseball had a paltry 14 athletes on the list. Makes no sense, does it? The land of guaranteed contracts, terrific meal allowances and more is doing only slightly better than rapidly gaining soccer.
How could this be, you ask?
Well, I answer, it's pretty simple. Name me the last baseball player you saw on TV endorsing something so much it almost made you sick. Can't think of one, can you? That's the problem, and it's a big one for baseball: the marketing of their players (and ultimately, their sport).
I see Gronk from the NFL's New England Patriots every time I turn on the TV. Who comes to mind every time you hear the Nationwide Insurance jingle? Yeah, Peyton Manning. I see LeBron and many NBA players hawking everything from tennis shoes to cell phones, too. (Heck, if I see long-retired NBA star Shaquille O'Neal pitching Icy Hot one more stinkin' time I might get ill). That's the thing, though: You see these guys all the time.
The point is, the NBA and NFL have managed to promote their players and sports leagues because of an intelligent marketing strategy. When was the last time you saw an MLB player do an extended stint of selling someone's product on TV? For that matter, did you EVER see a ballplayer on TV year-round? In a very real sense, baseball is fading from the screen. The correlation between screen presence and TV ratings is indisputable.
Baseball has always had an touch of arrogance in that regard, and it may be catching up with them. The entire dynamic of sports marketing has changed dramatically over the past couple of decades. Almost every other sport has recognized this and been proactive in addressing the issue of getting thier sport in the eye of the public as much as possible.
Baseball's popularity has stagnated because their approach to promoting their brand – much like the Indians in the postseason of late – has never left the batter's box.
Lifelong Westlake resident who dabbles in writing whenever the real world permits. My forte is humor and horror...What a combo!