Postgame Press: The times, they are a-changin’

I am tired. I know a lot of baseball fans who are tired. Why are we so tired? Game 3. The third game of this year’s World Series clocked in at an astonishingly long seven hours and 20 minutes. The game was 18 innings long, twice as long as the regulation nine of a baseball game. The game itself was 15 minutes longer than the entire 1939 World Series, when the Yankees swept the Reds in seven hours and five minutes. The game started at 8:09 p.m. and ended at around 3:30 a.m. Even in Los Angeles, where the game was played, it started at 5:09 p.m. and ended the next day. So, along with a lot of other baseball fans, I woke up late to counter my late night viewing.

Sports have changed. As of a year ago, baseball games take, on average, three hours and five minutes. Football games take three hours and three minutes. Hockey averages 2:19. Basketball is around 2:15. That is a lot of time. Advertisements, timeouts and other rules have created games that last almost an hour longer than they did 70 years ago. People get angry with baseball’s slow pace, but the NFL has issues too. Both have around 11 minutes of actual action but take three hours per game.

Obviously the seven-hour, two-in-one World Series game was an outlier. It was just an exaggerated version of the problem, though. Sports want more ad revenue and more in-stadium purchases. Both of those are helped by keeping viewers watching for as long as possible. But when will enough be enough? It is not only a lot to ask of viewers, but players as well.

One sport that is good with advertisements is soccer. Soccer goes to commercial fewer times than other sports, with no real stoppages. To counteract, there is added time at the end of each half. The one problem with that strategy is that the time of play is often less than it should be. There was a test done on each World Cup game to see how accurate stoppage time is, and it came up with one conclusion: incredibly inaccurate. Even on the biggest stage in sports, adding stoppage time instead of stopping the game as it occurred meant that games were not being played to their fullest. Instead, they were shorted, on average, by six minutes and 11 seconds. An extra second in sports is precious. Six minutes? Ouch.

All of this is to say that sports take too long. Fans must take off entire afternoons or nights if they plan on watching a game. These pastimes are starting to become take-times. We have to cut down on advertisements, either in length or in the amount of times the game is stopped for them. Shorter games mean more time for other activities for those working the games, those playing in them and those watching them.