For some time, it seemed nearly inevitable to me that the NBA would take its place as one of America’s most cherished pastimes. I wasn’t thinking as soon as the next decade, but more likely in a generation or two. The inevitable future shift in our society seemed to point in that direction. Baseball has lost its stranglehold on American sports, both in attendance and youth participation. Although it may seem impossible to imagine MLB fall from the top 2 American sports, note that boxing has gone from the pre-eminent American sport to complete shambles in less than 80 years.
While hardball could suffer a decline similar to the sweet science, basketball seemed to be on the rise. Given the ubiquity of courts, the ability to play with a small number of individuals, and the rise of popularity on a global scale, it seemed plausible that should a void present itself, the NBA would be in a good position to ascend. Of course that’s if the league doesn’t shoot itself in the foot first.
Labor differences seem to bring the ire of the public on both sides, and this is especially true of the entertainment industry. Perhaps it’s because people view the workers in that field as lucky to be paid for such a fun endeavor, or maybe because they just don’t like having their distractions from life taken away from them. Whether it be the Writer’s Guild of America Strike or your favorite winter sports league, no one is happy when there is a loss of entertainment.
So of course pigskin fans were happy to have the NFL preseason commence last night. Although August football games are meaningless and boring, this year’s contests are a sign of the league’s strength. A month ago, the NFL was in the midst of a lockout that could have threatened the season. But the players & owners got over their differences and signed a 10 year CBA.
The NFL’s preseason contrasts with its cold weather cousin, because the NBA seems to be headed for a disruption in play. Owners are looking for a radical re-haul of their current contract with the players, and both sides are taking a hard stance. It’s a shame because the NBA has been rising in popularity, and losing regular season games could set them back in the eyes of their fans. Cancelling the 2012 season would be a significant blow to the league’s public image.
The NBA still has time to make an agreement, given that their season starts 2 months after the NFL’s. Both sides need to meet in the middle. NBA owners need to stop the ridiculous claim that three quarters of the teams are losing money. Players need to realise that long term guaranteed contracts are a blight on the league. And if the owners insist on a hard cap and a larger share of the split, then the players should force them to provide better revenue sharing between teams to offset any future claims of small market teams operating in the red. Of course that would make the NBA’s CBA more like the NFL’s, which from the looks of last night’s games would be a proper step forward for the league.