Now that a pending deal to end the NBA owner’s lockout has gone from simmering to hot, it remains to be seen if the NBA fan will be on fire to see the players take to the court again. The question will be partially answered on Christmas Day, December 25, when six teams tip off the season in three marquee matchups. How will the television rating fare?
There is a possibility that TNT’s “Inside the NBA” with Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, and Charles Barkley may have more viewers than the televised season openers featuring the Boston Celtics-New York Knicks, Miami Heat-Dallas Mavericks, and Chicago Bulls-Los Angeles Lakers. Are the NBA team owners and the NBA players part of the one percent ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protesters loathe?
At a time when unemployment benefits are expiring for some Americans, homeowners with underwater mortgages are the norm, and there is growing uncertainty about the nation’s economy; the fate of the NBA is not a top priority. Especially, when the NBA players get paid millions of dollars to do what the ‘say’ they love doing.
The NBA is a lucrative business for team owners, too, who in many cases get the taxpayer to foot the bill for the construction of huge arenas. The only people in the whole NBA lockout debacle that elicit any compassion are the people employed by the industries that sprout up around the NBA.
The food vendors, arena maintenance and clean up staff personnel, television and radio game analysts and announcers, camera people, and those who suffer from the ripple effect of lost advertising revenue. The residual effect of the NBA lockout could be a repeat of what happened to Major League Baseball after the 1994 strike.
The fans reaction to the 1994 strike drove fans away in unprecedented numbers, which was reflected a dramatic decline in the television ratings, and stadium attendance records. For the fans feelings of betrayal ran deep against MLB, as owners and players fought for their demands. Sadly, their demands left the MLB fan out of the equation.
As the saga of the NBA lockout nears an end, the fan will determine if reasons for the stalemate that began on July 1 and ended November 26 were important enough to endanger the whole 2011-2012 NBA season.
This whole lockout is reminiscent of the friend some of us have that keeps taking an unfaithful mate back again, and again. We lend a shoulder to cry on. We give advice when asked. But, then there comes the day when our friend says ‘no more.’ We’re so proud of our friend.
Let this be a cautionary note not only to the NBA, but to the NFL, NHL, and MLB. The patience of the American sports fan is wearing thin.