One of the more frustrating aspects of our On Demand culture is that some of the best moments in sports history aren’t available to watch on YouTube.  I understand that there’s a buck to be made in making those highlights available on a DVD or something, but as we all know, having it available at our fingertips is way better than any alternative.  One sport that could use YouTube in a better way is Major League Baseball, long surpassed by the NFL as the country’s most popular sport, they are extremely and curiously guarded about allowing their highlights on YouTube.  And this doesn’t make any sense.

Highlight The Excitement Of Your Sport, And Gain Fans

Two sports do a pretty good job of allowing their highlights on YouTube, and actively provide footage themselves, but also allow amateurs to post their videos: the NBA and especially the NHL.  The NHL not only has their own site filled with highlights, they even allow a site/channel called Hockey Fights to highlight the best in the sport’s fights every day.  These two sports do not suffer financial loss by allowing this, they gain from it.  Hitting on what makes your sport exciting is free advertising that your sport can financially gain from.  Allowing people, writers and bloggers, to share it in context with stories they tell enhances their content and drums up more excitement for the sport.

For instance, here’s the tail end of the prime Jordan era, his 45-point performance in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals versus the Utah Jazz:

I can even find video of just the final shot.  That’s awesome to me that I can either watch the video with some context or I can go straight to the highlight.

Hockey has two prongs of excitement: amazing goals and fights.  Here’s just one of the fights that happened recently, between the Nashville Predators’ Brian McGrattan and St. Louis Blues’ Ryan Reaves:

You can get lost watching hockey fights all day and come out wanting to go to an NHL game afterward.  And if fighting doesn’t do it for you, these guys are ridiculously skilled at scoring goals, too.  You can watch Alex Ovechkin all day and not get tired, and wonder how he does it, with these top 10 goals, including one of the best NHL highlights of all time:

Meanwhile, the MLB and NFL play a pick-and-choose game, with baseball pretty much sucking out all the life of those who would dare post a video of their sport.  They pull videos all the time.  The ones that are on there are not the quality you’d like, or they just haven’t found them yet to complain about it.

One reason why I’m a huge baseball fan was that I grew up in the 80’s and some of the best World Series were played then.  I bore witness to the blown Don Denkinger call in 1985, the Buckner play in 1986, the 7 game thriller in 1987 with the Twins and Cardinals, the improbable Kirk Gibson home run in 1988, and my beloved Braves playing in the Worst-to-First 7-game World Series of 1991.  But I can’t really relive those moments in context, unless the MLB Network happens to play the whole game in a retrospective, or a part of a highlight package that usually takes the context out.

Type any keyword about Kirk Gibson’s home run into YouTube and you get one of those shaky cam videos of a TV playing the highlight, or you’ll get some other kind of unsatisfying version:

Eh, it kind of works.  But it’s not what it should be, and I can’t see all those balls Gibson fouled off and looking like he was going to die the whole at-bat.  The thing about baseball dramatics that are better than most other sports is that you can see the crowds in those highlights jumping up and down and going crazy.  I’d love to see the image of pitcher Kerry Wood hitting a home run in the 2003 National League Championship Series again.  Wrigley went mad.  I’d probably watch that highlight a million times.  And while you kind of get it here, plus Moises Alou’s following home run, it’s just not the same with all the editing:

The problem Major League Baseball has with many people is that they believe the sport is never exciting.  I think you can make fans just by making the most dramatic moments in the history of the sport available on YouTube, with the ability for those videos to be shared.  I’ve read Bill Simmons from ESPN talk about great moments in baseball and get frustrated that he can’t give his readers visual confirmation of what he’s talking about.

The reasons that we don’t see great MLB and even NFL highlights always comes down to money.  They think that monetizing those events in another way is the best way to go, not thinking that by allowing them on YouTube they could easily make more profits and win new fans.  In the case of the NFL, it might be understandable to control your content since you’re in an era where the sport practically sells itself.  But that’s short-sighted.  And the MLB has no excuse whatsoever.  The sport may technically be more popular than it was 50 years ago by sheer volume of fans, but that’s because there are more people on Earth now, and they appeal to a greater demographic because there are a number of people from different parts of the world playing the sport professionally.

It’d be nice if sports like the MLB and NFL would stop being so short-sighted and think that their product is in any way watered down, or that they would lose money, by allowing these highlights to be shown in their full glory.