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Why Do Major League Sports Hate Fun?

The MLB really hates fun, huh? Yesterday, the MLB suspended outfielder Nick Castellanos for two games due to his “aggressive actions” and “instigating” a confrontation with pitcher Jake Woodford and the St. Louis Cardinals. If you haven’t yet, watch this video by Jomboy for a breakdown:

Seems to me Castellanos’ actions in no way warrant a suspension. He was just expressing some passion for the game he loves, especially after getting plunked by the pitcher. I could understand a fine for this behavior only because of COVID protocols, since the actions led to the benches clearing, but that’s about it. My question is: why do major league sports hate fun?

The MLB

The MLB’s had quite a history with discouraging passions and expression in games, especially in the past year. Not all of it has resulted in suspensions, but there has been discussions over things like bat flips and not hitting home runs when you’re already up by 7 (I wrote an article on this situation already). A lot of it has to do with the so-called “unwritten rules of baseball” and conflict between older and younger fans on the validity of these “rules,” but some of this is on the MLB as well. The MLB didn’t even allow cleats that weren’t “51 percent” of the team’s colors until the 2019 season! Other issues that come to mind are the decline in viewership for the MLB. Between blackout restrictions on MLB TV, slowed games, the lack of marketability for the sport’s best players, and their inability to express themselves (both in equipment and in bat flips and flexing, apparently), it’s no wonder the MLB is in this boat. They need to make some major changes. We’ll see if the upcoming CBA changes any of this.

The NFL

The NFL has been jokingly called the “No Fun League” for a few years now. The league has also started to loosen some restrictions, but years of restricting touchdown celebrations and strict uniform rules has an effect. That’s not to even mention the fines and blackballing around the league since 2016. And I’m not just talking about Kaepernick. The NFL is a lot better at marketing their stars compared to the MLB, so they at least have that going for them, but they certainly have their issues to fix. I would also add maybe starting to take seriously domestic abuse and other crimes that tend to go unpunished but the league. It’s not “fun” when you platform abusers.

The NBA

The NBA is definitely better at allowing their players to have fun and be themselves compared to the other major leagues I’ve mentioned. There are still some incidents that come up, but players can wear fun cleats and the Association has been mindful of supporting social issues that affect their players. It’s even become a sort of cultural phenomenon to see how ridiculous (or fashionable) NBA players’ pregame outfits can be. Adam Silver is probably the best commissioner of the major American sports. He’s not perfect, but he definitely put himself in a good position.

Thanks for letting me rant. Hopefully we can see the MLB and NFL change for the better. Ultimately, I just want to see some personality in the players and for serious crimes to be taken seriously. I don’t think you can make your league “fun” and ignore that, especially in today’s culture. Also, if someone can let me know how the NHL fares in relation to these things, let me know. I don’t feel comfortable talking about them when I’m not invested in the league.

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– Pat Shuman (@PShu1996 on Twitter) Check out my other articles here!

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