Sports are a big deal to Americans. Millions of people attend all professional and college sports at all seasons of every year.
But not as many as attend entertainment shows of all types.
Take a few seconds to swallow this statistic: 14.77 million people attended Broadway shows last year. That’s 5 million more than went to all Yankees, Mets, Knicks, Nets, Rangers, Islanders, Giants and Jets games combined. (They are all the professional sports franchises in New York – baseball, basketball, hockey and football.)
It isn't necessarily a cost factor driving this perceived anomaly. Good tickets to good games are expensive, of course, but so are good tickets to good shows on Broadway.
At The Richard Rogers Theater on Broadway, the front-center seats for “Hamilton” go for $1,053.
Attendance at almost all sporting events – even college – is declining.
Professional football continues to draw the biggest per-game attendance of any sport, but it has only 16 games per team per season.
Baseball outdraws all because of its 162-game schedule, played in stadiums as opposed to the indoor arenas of basketball and hockey. (The National Basketball Association is the only pro league with increasing attendance, being on the rise the past four seasons.)
The big reason some experts assign to declining game attendance is that owners aren't obsessed with building a big gate, as they once were. Sports are making so much money via television and other media broadcasts that they no longer work and sweat over attendance.
Viewership of sporting events isn't even on the increase, however. We all know the National Football League’s Super Bowl is the most-watched television event every year. But last year’s 13-3 win by the Patriots over the Rams drew fewer than 100 million viewers, the fourth consecutive drop in TV audience. (Some say it was because of the lowest-scoring game in Super Bowl history, but the ratings had been in decline before that.)
Movie attendance nationwide continues to decline, as well. In 2017, 1.24 billion tickets were bought in the United States and Canada, a 27-year low.
Yet, in spite of all of this seeming indifference toward entertainment, the live theater continues to thrive.
As the summer season approaches, we'd urge this of local residents: Commit yourselves this year to attending some of the shows available in this region.
The Depot Theater in Westport, Pendragon in Saranac Lake, Adirondack Theatre Company and shows performed at the Strand in Plattsburgh are just a few of the theater options available locally. The colleges, when in session, also have vibrant theater groups.
All the local venues that will put on shows offer entertainment that Americans in other parts of the country obviously enjoy and are deeply dedicated to.
We're not saying give up sports in favor of the stage, of course, but give the stage a try, too.
There's a reason it has worked throughout history as a great human diversion.