Whopper of the Week: Major League Baseball

What’s the matter with being America’s pastime?

“Any way you measure it—viewers, players, spectators—baseball may very well be the most popular sport in the world.”

Advertisement placed by Major League Baseball in the New York Times, March 29, 2002.

The Encyclopedia of World Sport says that more men and women play and watch soccer worldwide than any other sport.”

Douglas S. Looney, Christian Science Monitor, Nov. 19, 1999.

Discussion. Regrettably, Chatterbox doesn’t have a copy of The Encyclopedia of World Sportto hand as he writes this, so he’s taking a small risk here. But the folks at Major League Baseball have left themselves especially vulnerable by inviting challengers to measure popularity anyway they like. Chatterbox can report that when he entered the phrase “world’s most popular sport” on Nexis and on Google, he came up with nothing but references to soccer and “football,” which is of course what they call soccer outside the United States. Chatterbox is always delighted to learn that some notion firmly embedded in the conventional wisdom worldwide is erroneous, but he doesn’t think that’s going to happen this time out. Still, if any readers do have plausible data to support Major League Baseball’s claim, they are invited to submit it to “The Fray.”

(Thanks to reader Jonathan Portes.)

Got a whopper? Send it to To be considered, an entry must be an unambiguously false statement paired with an unambiguous refutation, and both must be derived from some appropriately reliable public source. Preference will be given to newspapers and other documents that Chatterbox can link to online.

Whopper Archive:
Mar. 21, 2002: Billy Graham
Mar. 14, 2002: INS commissioner James W. Ziglar
Mar. 8, 2002: Robert Zoellick and the U.S. steel industry
Feb. 28, 2002: Al Sharpton
Feb. 22, 2002: Olympic skating judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne
Feb. 14, 2002: Kenneth Lay
Feb 8, 2002: Enron spokeswoman Peggy Mahoney
Jan. 31, 2002: Monsanto
Jan. 24, 2002: Linda Chavez
Jan. 17, 2002: George W. Bush
Jan. 10, 2002: Simon & Schuster
Jan. 4, 2002: The Associated Press

(Click  here  to access the Whopper Archive for 2001.)