For at least a century, peanuts and baseball have gone together, as Forrest Gump would say, like peas and carrots. Plenty of people might not even be able to imagine baseball without the nutty snack. But now, many big league games are offering "nut-free" seating sections, so that fans who have peanut allergies can be taken out to the ballgame. So far, the Washington Nationals, St. Louis Cardinals, Seattle Mariners, Boston Red Sox, San Diego Padres, and New York Mets are among the MLB teams to host at least one "nut-controlled" game this season.
Although such a thing may seem like an affront to traditionalist fans, I say it's about time that pro-baseball made it possible for the 1 percent (and rising) of people who are afflicted with a severe nut allergy to be spectators. In fact, it's a sign that baseball's willing to adapt for their fans' needs -- something all spectator sports should do, including tennis (hello, Wimbledon), basketball, hockey, and football.
Sure, tradition is grand, but sports like baseball would be pointless without the fans. So why shouldn't the MLB or the NBA or the NHL make slight adjustments so that their fans are happier, safer, more comfortable?
And it's not like the games haven't evolved up to this point already. Consider pre-TV era baseball. Ball teams were probably apprehensive about allowing games to be broadcast. Why would anyone show up at Wrigley Field if they could see the Cubs play from the comfort of their own homes? But the show -- I mean, the game -- went on, and fans still showed up to watch at the ballparks.
Something like a nut-free seating section is just the next chapter in baseball's evolution. As for other spectator sports adapting for their fans? Wimbledon could start allowing small lapdogs to be present at the tournament (so Novak Djokovic's toy poodle could come!), all venues could stand to build more stalls in the women's restrooms, and there could be further considerations made for handicapped folks or people with other food allergies (like celiac disease).
Baseball is an institution and has a culture all its own, thanks to the people who spend the cash for tickets and show up in the stands. That's why the big league teams and their venues owe it to us to do everything in their power to adapt for the fans.
Do you agree that spectator sports need to adapt for their fans? What are some ways you think games should evolve?
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