When I wrote about the NFL work stoppage http://wp.me/pJX7l-qv (i.e. lockout) that ended in time for the current season I was optimistic that NFL owners and players saw the forest for the trees and would come to an agreement in time. They did and Americans (and non-Americans for that matter) continue to be able to watch and enjoy what is their favorite television sport.
I also commented that I was worried that the NBA owners and players would not be as smart about having a work stoppage. Now that it has turned out to be the case (yesterday NBA commissioner David Stern canceled the first two weeks of the regular season), the NBA could very well be on its way to a catastrophic turn of events.
The last NBA work stoppage (lockout) was in 1998-1999 with the season being delayed until January 6 and being limited to 50 games. The NBA did recover by most people’s scorecards. But this time it likely will be different. The issue at hand is primarily – what else – money. The $4 billion pie is currently carved up with 57% going to the players and the balance going to the owners. The owners want a 50% or less take for the players citing that 22 of 30 franchises are losing money. The players are willing to take less than the 57% but are not close to agreeing to a 50% or less split.
While the millionaire’s basketball club fights, the NBA’s primary market – the United States – is yawning. I am sure fans of the current NBA Champions Dallas Mavericks want to see if their team can repeat, but many NBA fans are not paying much attention to the proceedings.
For years even casual NBA fans will tell you that there’s no need to watch regular season games until the last five minutes of the game. That can be true of NBA games seen on television but from my experience seeing an NBA game in person is a great experience and very different than watching on television. To see the power and grace of these amazing athletes in person cannot be appreciated nearly as much even in HD.
It also seems to me that college basketball is more popular than ever – in particular outside of cities like New York, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles. Because the NCAA Men’s college basketball tournament is such a popular event, college basketball could take up a great deal of the void left by the absence of professional basketball. There are so many more college basketball games on television today as compared to what was the case in 1998.
The other huge factor in differentiating the 1998-99 NBA Lockout from the one that has begun this year is the internet. In 1998 Facebook, YouTube, Hulu, streaming video, and other social networking sites, failed to exist. The point is that people have so many other things to do with their time now as compared to a mere 13 years ago.
Will you miss the NBA? When they play again will you be in a hurry to watch again?