And the reason for this relaxation of stuffiness? “I think that part of it is trying to reach the millennial and this new age of fans and having more fun,” Dean Blandino, the N.F.L.’s former chief of officiating, told Fox Sports, his new employer.
Sports officials and leagues have been flailing about to get young adults to care about their games. Millennials are the largest population group in the United States, according to census figures. But traditional sports are less urgent to those in the 18-to-34 age bracket than they were to their parents and grandparents.
A study of American sports fans published in March by L.E.K. Consulting, a global firm, portrayed a stark generational divide. Cord-cutting millennials are increasingly abandoning cable television and traditional sports for online video game tournaments and other e-sports, the study said. It noted that ESPN had lost 10 percent of its subscribers in the last three years.
“As millennials continue to back away from mainstream media,” the study said, “they are likely to become increasingly disengaged from sports in terms of viewership and fandom — that is, unless industry heads are able to respond to these changes in a proactive manner.”
Sports organizations looking to attract new, younger fans should provide more digital, fantasy and e-sport offerings, the study said. Some teams are also using an analog approach.
The Yankees have sought to curb plummeting attendance at Yankee Stadium by adding bars and a play area for children — you know, offerings for people who want to go to a baseball game without having to actually sit in their seats and watch the game.
No word yet on whether the next enticement for millennials will have Aaron Judge joining the cast of “Big Brother” on his days off.
According to Ad Age, the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro drew the oldest-skewing television audience since 1960, the first year the Games were broadcast in the United States. The International Olympic Committee has grown concerned that there is more silver in the hair of the viewers than in the medals.
Referring to the 2012 London Olympics, Thomas Bach, the president of the I.O.C., said, “You could see that the younger generation had no interest in the Games anymore. They were not there.”
So, for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, an appeal to youth will be made with big-air snowboarding. The 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo will add surfing, skateboarding and sports climbing. The I.O.C. always seems a few years behind the curve. What’s next, soap box derby?
The New York Times’s chief fashion critic, Vanessa Friedman, highlighted the latest impact of young adults on sports: the “millennial pink” shirts and pants worn by some golfers at the United States Open.
According to Friedman, such recent sartorial choices by golfers, celebrities and British royals suggest a “shorthand or symbol of this particular moment in time, from the looser definitions of gender and gender stereotypes to the refusal to be boxed in to a traditional set of dress code mores and expectations.”
Young adults, it seems, also are growing reluctant to be boxed in by the spandex imperatives of hobby jogging. Last year, The Wall Street Journal noted a decrease in the number of footrace participants and declared: “The running boom is over. Blame millennials.”
Now if we could only declare an end to the boom in offering football scholarships to fifth graders.