Time to deal with sports TV dysfunction


Laura K. Silver is the mother of two elementary school-age children and a trustee of the Jewish Light who will be blogging for the paper’s website about marriage, child rearing, work, play, volunteering and whatever else is topical or strikes her fancy – she has no shortage of opinions. Silver is a graduate of the University of Michigan and University of Pennsylvania Law School, and is the owner of The Paper Trail of St. Louis, a financial and legal concierge service.

By Laura K. Silver

It’s finally spring.  It’s time for flowers to bloom, dogs to be walked, houses to be cleaned. It’s also time for Major League Baseball. Apparently, that also means it’s time for my kids to learn about erectile dysfunction.

I’m pretty open with my children about most things, but frankly, there’s got to be a line and I’m drawing it here.  My kids have had “the talk.” They know how babies come into this world. I’m ready to end the conversation here for now. They are nine.

But Major League Baseball and Fox Sports Midwest have other ideas. I am now forced to either awkwardly sit through these ads with my kids (even encouraging them to try to get a quick game of Temple Run in during the lull) or quickly and subtly flipping the channel, hoping it won’t draw more attention to them. They haven’t asked yet about these commercials, but it’s going to happen this year. My “special moment” is coming anytime now.

For most other events that we watch as a family, there is the DVR. We can skip through the commercials. With sports, however, it’s different. We watch it live. There’s no putting it off until tomorrow. When you’re in third grade with a bunch of sports nut friends, you have to know what happened to be in the loop.

What's My Home Worth? ad

There was some thought of regulating these types of ads a few years ago.  Sen. Jim Moran proposed legislation to restrict them to certain late night hours. This was highly recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Apparently, the legislation went nowhere. 

ESPN, according to their policy, does restrict the hours in which they air them. I applaud this effort and wish more networks would follow suit in lieu of government intervention. Now, if I could only arrange for all of the sports programming we watch to occur on ESPN.

I understand that there is revenue at stake and that these types of ads generate money. To me, though, there is more to consider. Baseball is a national pastime with broad based fans of all ages. The Cardinals have done a lot to encourage younger fans — from Run the Bases Day to the Cardinals Kids Club. We want that for our team and for our city. And as a parent, I want the message to be consistent and have safe viewing for my kids when they are watching the Cardinals. I don’t think that’s asking too much. 

It’s time for Major League Baseball and the networks to consider the additional side effects that aren’t listed at the end of these commercials.