As of today we know that the start of NBA training camps has been postponed, with the start of any kind of a season hanging in the balance and seeming less likely with each passing day. Ironically, and unlike the NFL and their recent labor woes, it appears as though very few people care. In fact, the apathy shown toward the NBA is different than any other sports lockout/strike we have ever seen before, prompting me to wonder if we are not witnessing an “imperfect” storm for the NBA?
Now that the NFL season is in full swing, sports fans seem to be satiated with their Sunday entertainment coupled by occasional blips of baseball and hockey news. The NBA, on the other hand, continues to churn out boring and predictable news that really doesn’t excite anyone about the prospect of the league getting underway anytime soon. Making things worse for the NBA is the fact that it’s own Superstar players are nowhere to be found when labor dispute stories surface, as they all seem to be playing ball either overseas or at various playgrounds across the country!
Maybe it’s the fact that sports fans are simply tired of lockouts and strikes, or maybe it’s the disconnect they feel from greedy sports owners and players as they question themselves saving money to go to a game or buy a sport package from their cable provider. Or maybe the lack of interest in the NBA problems is unique to the NBA – in other words, has the NBA lost their connection with their fans?
Unlike previous strikes and lockouts, the fans were always in the background keeping a constant, steady pressure for a resolution to take place. Both owners and players realized the money they were each leaving on the table by not getting along with one another, as well as the fear each experienced thinking about the possibility of losing their audience in substantial numbers ala the baseball strike of the 1990’s. Today, none of those factors seem to be at play.
While fans tune in to different things, and the NBA players jettison to different clubs and playground leagues, it’s almost become a rarity to see NBA news even make the front page anymore. When I causally talk to people about what’s going on with the NBA, the regular response is one that can be summarized as “Who cares.” With “The Decision” still ringing in the ears of NBA fans (many that were casual fans and quite turned off by LeBron’s show, and hence the NBA), it seems as though the NBA may want to take a long and hard look at the current fan response, as well as the long-term implications for the current lockout.
If you think things are bad now, they could soon get worse with the upcoming baseball playoffs just around the corner coupled by the building excitement of both college and professional football. Of course, hockey fans will soon get their fix as well, and sports like the UFC and professional boxing will keep folks busy, too. Hopefully both sides in the NBA dispute will see what’s going on around them and get things worked out soon, otherwise, the current labor dispute may prove to be a fatal blow to long-term basketball growth and popularity.
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