Thankfully the NFL Lockout has been settled and we will get to enjoy a full season of the most popular sport in the nation. However, what do you think would be the reaction if the Executive Director of the NFL Players Association DeMaurice Smith, was asked during the NFL work-stoppage if any games would be played in the upcoming season and he responded “If I had to bet on it at this moment, I would probably say no.”
The reaction to that statement by Smith may have been a big enough story to knock the budget talks off the front pages of newspapers across the country. CBS, FOX and NBC would all be in an absolute tizzy trying to figure out how to fill all those hours of programming. Affiliated sponsors would be going out of their minds as they realize their products will not get the exposure they had hoped for being part of an NFL TV broadcast.
Needless to say that the fans would be filled with anger and resentment as a part of their lives that they have relied on for years had been snatched away from them. Sports radio talk shows as well as the blogosphere would be filled with fans venting their anger. There would no longer be those Sunday afternoons in front of the tube; or going down to your favorite team’s stadium to root on your boys. Who knows how many marriages would have ended in divorce if NFL fans missed their weekly fix? I shudder to think of the number!
Although if Smith had made that statement there would have been a Tsunami of outrage; when NBA Executive Director Billy Hunter actually spoke those words, the reaction was little more than a trickle. That is a perfect example of how ingrained the NFL is in our present society, and that the NBA has nowhere near that type of support.
The Association acquired a lot of casual fans during the past few years as they were attracted to Los Angeles and Boston in the NBA Finals two out of three seasons. Many more were intrigued with young stars such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Kevin Durant. Those kinds of fans find the NBA entertaining and fun; but they are not passionate about the sport as they are with the NFL. If the NFL lost a season due to a Lockout, the fans would slowly but surely come back to the game. That just may not be the case if the NBA goes dark for a year.
NBA Team Owners are asking for far too many concessions from the Players Association; and now that FIBA has given them permission to play where ever they want during the Lockout, most players will be fine financially. Conceivably this could drag out the entire season, which will give the fans new ways to spend their dwindling entertainment dollars in other diversions. There is no guarantee that the fans will be back when a new NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement has been ratified. In this kind of economy does the NBA dare alienate the people who go through the turnstiles? If they do then they deserve all the fallout and bad-will that they shall receive.