Long sports seasons are one of life?s certainties

Three things in life are certain: death, taxes and long sports seasons.

Especially in professional sports, the seasons drag on and on and on. The football, basketball, hockey and baseball seasons overlap to the extent that for a brief period of time, all four seasons are running simultaneously.


Follow the money. For everyone to become filthy rich, especially in baseball, football and basketball, they need to play games?a lot of games.

Athletes like money. Owners like money. To make more money for the rich and famous, more games are necessary. More money requires more games that result in more advertising, more ticket sales and more concessions.

While most people expect to work 40 or more years until retirement, pro athletes have a window of only five to 15 years of earning power. But that earning power goes far beyond the average worker.

Of course, there is a price to pay. Playing so many games takes a toll on the human body. There?s very little down time for athletes, and the pressure to stay in shape year round virtually wipes away the brief off-season.

Baseball has a reputation of valuing tradition and changing slowly. That reputation is bogus. In my lifetime, professional baseball has incorporated the use of a designated hitter, an All-Star game that means home-field advantage in the World Series to the winning league, instant replay, interleague play and wild card teams to the playoffs.

But rumor has it that Major League Baseball may be taking a step back to the way things used to be.

If it happens, it could be baseball?s most drastic scheduling change in more than half a century. It would pretty much assure that a lot of single-season records would never be broken.

For the first time since 1960, MLB could be going old-school on us, reverting to a 154-game schedule from the current 162 games, according to Bob Nighten?gale for USA Today sports.

The topic is expected to be discussed in negotiations for the next collective bargaining agreement, which expires in December 2016.

The schedule in baseball is demanding. According to Nightengale, teams are playing more night games than at any other time in history. Teams, even on getaway days, usually don?t get to their hotel until 2 or 3 in the morning, and after a few hours of sleep, they are back on the field.

There?s a reason why players appear to be sleepwalking at times.

How ridiculous have things gotten? Consider that the San Francisco Giants played an ESPN Sunday night game in Washington, D.C., and were scheduled to play the next day in San Francisco.

On the advice of a sleep expert, the Giants returned to the hotel after the game, flew the next day to San Francisco and went straight to the ballpark without dropping their suitcases back home.

The result was no surprise. The Giants were shut out by the New York Mets 3-0, producing just three hits.

Playing fewer games would give the players more off days and give their bodies more time to recover.

The problem is that playing eight fewer games means eight fewer paid admission dates, eight fewer TV broadcasts and perhaps a 5 percent loss of revenue to clubs.

One would think Major League baseball players would be willing to make slightly less than their current average salary of $3.8 million for a few extra days off.

After all, what?s losing $100,000 or so among friends?

Joe Kleinsasser is director of news and media relations at Wichita State University. He can be reached at Joe.Klein?sasser@wichita.edu.

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