In response to my column, Busting The World Cup Hype, Tim e-mails:
The popularity of sports in America is directly related to our attention span. That being the same length as a dragonflies.
Baseball….3 to 4 seconds needed at a time. There is strategy but for the most part, there are two people we need to watch…pitcher and batter. If the ball is hit, we only need to watch the ball. When caught, one guy to watch. Throw to the cut-off..one guy…throw to the plate, 2 guys. No biggie, we can handle that.
Football….13 to 15 seconds per play. One guy to watch. Ball is hiked, 3 steps and throw. Tackle, play over. Drink beer, chat, wait for huddle to break….hike, rinse and repeat. There is strategy but it goes out the window with every hike of the ball.
Basketball…one thing to watch, the ball.
NASCAR…only need to watch for your driver once a lap….Vroooom….wait for 30 seconds….Vrooom….wait for 30 seconds…no real attention span as there is no real strategy. Go fast, change tires, pack some fuel in, go fast. A lot of weight is put on the pole sitter but only 20% of the time does the pole sitter win.
Hockey has 12 players with 10 players moving all at the same time….most can’t deal with that….too busy…and they move a LOT for a LONG time…like 2 minutes! Whistle, drop puck…move again for 2 minutes….
Soccer….22 guys, 20 guys all moving ALL the time and ALL over the place…field is too big….stoppage time isn’t that difficult to figure out but we’ve been conditioned to respond to a buzzer or whistle.
Road racing like Formula 1, Le Mans, 24 Hours at Daytona…too many cars, too much strategy involved…too fast.
Some put it down to IQ level…I put it down to attention span.
You think about it….watch a game with this in mind….and then watch the people around you watching.
Hard to argue with that, but I’d add that the most popular sports also leave time for analysis. The 30 seconds between NFL plays gives the TV announcers time to show replays, explain what happened, and speculate on what the strategy might be for the next play — just as viewers do. In sports that don’t have that pause in the action, there’s no opportunity for us to express our opinions.
Which may be the most popular American sport of all.