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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

NFL Preseason Underscores NBA’s Foolishness

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.

8 comments on “NFL Preseason Underscores NBA’s Foolishness

  1. latke

    interesting stuff. This is definitely a more big picture take. Most people have been focusing on the NBA resurgence as simply a case of the fact that it’s very talent rich right now, but if this is an upward trend that represents a more long term cultural shift towards basketball, that’s even more motivation for owners, who even if they lose money on a yearly basis, could make it back in the increase in value of their franchise.

  2. Mike Kurylo Post author

    BigBlueAL:
    This is a much better article on baseball attendance written earlier this year:

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/tom_verducci/05/03/bud.selig.attendance/index.html

    I am someone who absolutely LOVES both sports and wished that baseball and basketball were the top 2 sports in this country but I know that will never happen lol.

    I don’t know for sure that baseball will fall off the map. When I was a kid that’s the one sport everyone played. Now I look around at it seems to be basketball, skate boarding/bikes. Little league fields seem to be filled with just as many soccer teams as baseball teams. It makes sense from an economic standpoint. For soccer, you don’t need gloves, bats, hats, or multiple balls. Just one ball & a couple of cones to mark the goal (or as we used to use in my day – extra tshirts).

    Maybe that’s just my little pov – although some of the evidence supports that. (Declining little league attendance). On the other hand trending something 20-80 years out is near impossible. For all I know, 50 years from now video games and robot olympics might replace sports as we know it.

  3. Jim Cavan (@JPCavan)

    These owners suck. Players would be more than willing to take closer to 50% of BPI, as long as there was some revenue sharing. I think these two things alone would go a looooong way in helping the three hemorrhaging teams tighten things up. Meanwhile, “other expenses” for every team has gone through the roof in the last decade. Owners need to take a look in the mirror and understand that, while player guaranteed contracts certainly need to be tweaked and reconsidered, so do their in-house decisions and hirings.

  4. taggart4800

    You briefly touch on the success of soccer in the article. That is my second passion behind NBA, my team is blackburn rovers the equivalent of the Charlotte Bobcats. Whilst following the coverage of the EPL offseason I was disappointed to realise that there is an inherent laziness in Sports Journalism. The MO for most Premiership sides is to spend spend spend in the offseason which in truth is only half the problem as the 50% Tax on all players earnings means that English Clubs have to pay exorbitant salaries which they cannot sustain.
    Blackburn have recently been purchased by new owners who have also bought the £15 million debt ($24.5 mill). Rather than waasting money on the equivalent of Al Buckets that many sides do they have set about clearing out all uneccesary contracts and replacing them with young developing players with more importantly, lower salaries and more potential for return. They have done this whilst only losing one starting 11 player for a healthy £16 million. Yet the media have written Blackburn off and condemned them to relegation, all the while ridiculing the very astute new indian ownership for their more considered approach by adding a backroom staff comprised of names from top clubs in the EPL.
    Anyway, I thought that I would share with you the evidence that poor sports journalism is not confined to the states. Furthermore if you want to follow a young developing team that seems to making sensible decisions then Rovers are the way to go! Proof will be in the pudding at 10 am ET.
    I am now off my soap box and normal basketball service can be resumed!

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