There are too many professional sports

Courtesy of Brentaro Yamane | Christian Yelich (left) and Quintin Berry (right) walking off field at end of inning.

Spencer Thomas | Sports Editor

Nobody loves sports more than me. But I recognize that the market for sports is completely oversaturated, and it’s only getting worse.

Why do you think that Europeans and South Americans are known for their wild soccer crowds that put any American game to shame? It’s not like they are just born with some gene that makes them more passionate. It’s because that is all they have.

Somewhere in Philadelphia, there is an 8-year-old with just as much passion for football as a kid in Manchester. But the Philly kid also has one wall orange and black for the Flyers, one red and powder blue for the Phillies, one green and black for the Eagles and one red, white and blue for the Sixers.

In Manchester, the kid has four walls blood-red and black to support his favorite soccer team. He wakes up every day thinking about Manchester United, counting down the minutes until their next match. He screams his heart out from the grandstands because that team’s performance is going to determine his mood for the next week.

In Philly, the kid doesn’t even bother watching his Phillies that afternoon because the Eagles are on. They lose, but he’s not worried about it because the Flyers have a big game tomorrow. He’s scattered. The American markets are oversaturated, whereas international fanbases are more engaged, because every beat of their heart is dedicated to one team.

More may seem like it’s better, until you sit in the stands of an NBA game that feels like an AARP convention. Elsewhere, fans are going to war, waving flags, shooting flares and mouthing off with chants whose intensity shakes the foundation of the stadium.

Even within individual sports, too much of a good thing is becoming a problem. In the NFL, big wigs with bigger pockets decided to expand the playoffs from 12 to 14 teams, and regular season games from 16 to 17. Mathematically, both of these changes make every regular season game mean less.

More games mean more room for error. A loss is no longer the end of the world for teams that now have one extra game to make up for it. More teams in the playoffs mean more security for the league’s best teams. They can just go on autopilot after Thanksgiving because their postseason spot is all but guaranteed.

The counterargument to this is that the postseason is wide open, meaning teams lower in the standings are playing more meaningful football. But ask yourself this: The big games went from featuring Josh Allen to Mason Rudolph. Is that tradeoff worth it? We had to watch Allen manhandle Rudolph wildcard weekend anyway.

Even March Madness, the biggest and most electric playoff in sports, comes with a price. The college basketball regular season means next to nothing. Big teams are just playing for seeding, which, as we see in March, doesn’t mean a thing.

The NCAA Tournament is like a sugar high. It gets you going for a short stretch of time but is ultimately meaningless and hurts your attachment to the everyday existence of things that you love.

All this means any given game has lower stakes, less drama and fewer fans living and dying by every snap of the ball. Isn’t that what we loved about sports in the first place?

The nostalgia that fans feel toward the golden age of baseball isn’t because baseball was better back then. In the 50s, when fans packed Forbes Field for a Sunday afternoon game, it was because that was all they had. A 1-0 game between the bottom-feeding Reds and the Pirates is just as miserable now as it was back then. The difference is, the market is so oversaturated now we can dismiss that game, rejecting the things we used to hold dear.