UTW: Sprung From The NBA Christmas Special

My friend and Oskar Blues aficionado Yvon posted a thought on Twitter today whilst we both watched Celtics/Heat across a state that got me thinking. He typed, “I enjoy pro basketball more than pro football because I and it are just better than whatever it is you like.”

Jazzy egotism aside, what he verbalizes about basketball is similar to the reluctance and eye-rolling necessary to be a soccer fan in America (or basketball fan in suburbia). Both are beautiful, physical games whose brilliance and creativity now (and in some cases always) spring from the “peasant” parts of town.

And in the same way Jim Rome had to backtrack on NASCAR, American media will do with soccer what they did with basketball: come on board and reluctantly embrace what gets the ratings. Hoops and soccer have something in common: all it takes is a ball and a makeshift goal. The fellas and ladies paying thousands of dollars to improve their games in a gym or fieldhouse are learning and improving on the same skills as the kids in the streets. Do they have a better look at getting “noticed?” Of course, this is a money world, but in a sense the respective sports each play the role of great equalizer.

I used this photo so people would have built-in "but Pierce is so fake" excuses at the ready (getty images)

So now that all kids are playing, heading into college together and sharing interests, the TV is gonna notice. When the TV buys into the sport, as ESPN, ABC and Fox have done with soccer and hoops, folks have to give it respect. This is why hockey will never, ever move past football, basketball, baseball and soccer in America: it’s always going to cost too much to be universal. Baseball realized this with its RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program but getting kids nice ball diamonds, gloves and bats is always going to cost a heck of a lot more than helmets, shoulder pads, elbow pads, gloves, cups, pants, shin guard, skates and sticks (let alone ice time versus gym time). And so perhaps that’s the fight the NHL and NHLPA are having right now. The sport will barely get bigger, so dividing the recent past’s relatively explosive spoils is as important as it will ever be to both groups.

Email: nick@fcbuffalo.org

One Response to UTW: Sprung From The NBA Christmas Special

  1. I’ve been thinking about this for a while. Now I am a huge LA Clippers fan, so I am biased. Also, I’m not from Buffalo originally, so although I am a gargantuan Bills fan, I am neither a hockey nor Sabres fan.

    Saying that though, even objectively, I wonder if Buffalo just made the wrong choice in the 1970s choosing the Sabres over the Braves. Not that the Braves didn’t have good attendance. It was above average most of the time, and you could argue their poor ST numbers, which triggered the out clause, were mostly due to people just upset with first Snyder and then John Y Brown and a feeling that a move was inevitable.

    The City of Buffalo did have an injunction against Snyder that prevented his sale to the folks in Hollywood FL. And they did sign like a fifteen year lease with the Braves at the Aud.

    But it feels like the Sabres were the safe pick for people here. The suburban white flight pick. The 70s of course were a time of terrible upheaval. Well so were the 60s, but the Buffalo area was still growing enough to have three pro sports teams in 1970. By 77-78 the economic collapse and demographic neutron bomb was in full effect and a team had to go. The Bills had Rich Stadium so they weren’t going anywhere. So Sabres and Braves, both of whom were very successful, Sabres a bit moreso with the Finals appearance.

    The Knoxes I feel really screwed Snyder over as Canisius did too with scheduling. But mostly I think there was an underlying current of racism and fear that helped drive the Braves away. Basketball was the “black sport.” Moreso than football. And this was a time when the East side was losing any vestigial remains of the Polish population.

    I’m no progressive…. I’m pretty right of center so this isn’t meant to be a political screed. I just think it’s conceivable.

    It’s coincidental that the Clippers, who have been dreadful nearly every year since moving to San Diego, are great while the Sabres might go another year with not playing a single game. Hockey is close to dead while basketball is still growing.