Do Baseball’s Labor Fights Drive Fans Away?

As Major League Baseball’s owners and players struggle to come to terms for a pandemic-shortened 2020 season with the prospect of a work stoppage next year looming, it’s hard not to think about the last labor disruption in the sport. The 1994-95 strike enraged fans, many of whom vowed never to attend a game again. So great was the perceived public relations damage that, in retrospect, some believe that a historic home run race (albeit tainted by performance-enhancing drugs) between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa was needed to save the sport and recapture fans. There are plenty of people sounding the alarm now: MLB could end up tarnishing its image again, pushing people away from the national pastime. But that concern might actually be overblown. If history is any guide, a labor dispute isn’t likely to dampen enthusiasm for the game for long.

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Written by FiveThirtyEight

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