What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
This story happened a few weeks back, and frankly at the time, I didn’t really give it much thought. On it’s face, it’s a perfect example of complete myopic stupidity, but on it’s own it’s essentially harmless. The problem is it doesn’t live in a vacuum; it is representative of pandemic stupidity running rampant in this country.
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know I’m obviously a sports fan; the National Basketball Association is no exception. I watched a lot of the NBA Summer League action because I’m curious about the young players making their journey into this league. As part of the adjunct discussion surrounding the game, this topic came up yet again. Frankly, I’d been ignoring what bothered me about because this is the time of year for a sports fan to be focusing on the pennant races in baseball and the football season which is right around the corner.
But this topic is the proverbial itch I clearly have to scratch; I can’t ignore it any longer.
You can’t even satirize American society any more. It’s wild to me leagues don’t understand how many fans they lose over stupidity like this. No one with a functional brain is offended by the term “owner.” pic.twitter.com/VMxag8bIDW
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) June 24, 2019
The problem is that this kind of “contemplating one’s own navel” stupidity means the cyclical nature of the National Basketball Association is firmly back in “death spiral” mode. Let’s not kid ourselves; throughout my adult life, the NBA has oscillated between riding high and circling the drain. This “owner” nonsense has “Drain City” written all over it, because it means NBA Commissioner Adam “Nosferatu” Silver is worried about words rather than what is really wrong with this league.
Do you know what makes the difference in the water level between riding high and circling the drain in the proverbial NBA tub? The interest level of me…and guys like me; middle-aged guys who watch and buy NBA products. Say what you will about who you think the NBA’s demographic audience really is, but this is a league which gets it’s freight paid by the “Dad Bod” squad. Look at the crowd at any NBA game, and tell me how many people are middle-aged and middle-class. Not to mention, who are the guys who pony up the $200 or so bucks a year for the NBA “season pass” on their cable/satellite packages? Again, it’s me and guys like me; the ones whose closets are full of Dockers and never heard of a shirt that didn’t have the manufacturer’s logo on the tit and/or button-down collars.
Sure, we’re boring, but we have the disposable income to afford the luxury of being fans. In other words, once you lose us, the NBA Finals get relegated from prime-time back to Saturday afternoons and the regular season becomes local/regional cable TV only. If you don’t think that’s where this league is headed, just look at the ratings for this past play-off season. You can give me all the “No LeBron” factor you want, but the bottom line remains that the NBA just isn’t grabbing viewers like it once did. The ratings in this most recent NBA Finals proved that.
ABC’s live broadcast of the Toronto Raptors’ 123-109 win over the Golden State Warriors drew a 10.0 household rating in metered markets, in line with the 10.1 and 10.2 for the first two contests. That’s off 21 percent from a preliminary 12.7 in 2018 and the lowest for Game 3 of the series since 2013 (also 10.0).
Through three games, the 2019 Finals’ 10.1 average in metered markets is down about 20 percent compared with a year ago (12.6). In total viewers, the decline is a bit steeper: Game 3 averaged 13.1 million viewers, per Nielsen’s final numbers Wednesday. Through three games, the 2019 series is averaging 13.43 million people in the United States, down 25 percent from 18 million at the same point in 2018.
That’s a shame, because there is such a wealth of young talent in this league right now. That being said, it’s time for another patented Dubsism break-down of why this league’s problems are much larger than worries over words.
1) Franchises in key markets that are “dumpster fires.”
I like to call this the “Double Dribble” factor. If you’re my age, you remember the old basketball game for the Nintendo 64 system. If you recall, you could choose to be one of four teams; Boston, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Simply put, it’s bad for business when franchises in any of those cities are mired in irrelevancy. It’s hard to imagine the Knicks being supplanted as New York’s “team,” but given what just happened in free-agency, it’s much closer to possible than I ever imagined.
To that end, you can watch the ratings problems disappear with conference finals match-ups like Knicks-Celtics and Lakers-Warriors. Imagine what would happens if the most valuable franchises in this league were also the source of the best on-court product?
2) Enforce the rules.
I’m not the only guy who thinks this, no matter how “grumpy old man/get off my lawn” it sounds, but nobody wants to see guys getting 8 steps on the way to the basket. Not only that, but there’s a solid list of “usual suspects.” There’s a guy who frequently writes to us under the nom de plume “LeBron Gets More Steps Than Shriner’s Parade”…we all know what he’s talking about, but LeBron isn’t the only one. I’m looking at you James Harden…
While we’re at it, how about we clean up this whole “Flagrant 1/Flagrant 2” non-sense. Fully comprehending an explanation between the two nearly requires a legal background. The worst part is the damn video review, followed by the broadcast crew giving it a frame-by-frame breakdown as if it were the Zapruder film.
3) Fix the last five minutes.
I’ll be the first to admit I don’t really have a practical solution here, but something needs to be done to address the fact the last five minutes on the clock for an NBA game takes a half-hour. What I do know is a seemingly never-ending “foul/free throw contest” in a league where half the players can’t fucking shoot is monstrously boring.
4) Do something about the schedule.
Commissioner Nosferatu has been tacitly talking about the length of the NBA season for some time now, and frankly…it’s about time. Even if he did it in the most couched way possible, the fact is the NBA season is simply too fucking long.
The reason why this league has an 82-game schedule can easily be boiled down to one word: money. What is a bit more complex is why this league needs to generate that much cash. However, before we get into that, what’s not helping the quality of the product on the floor is the fact the game’s biggest stars routinely sit out games during the regular season to keep themselves fresh for the post-season. If that’s not an admission of what is and what is not important to the product on the floor, then I don’t know what is.
But the NBA is the definition of a “star-driven” league, and if you’re going to ascribe the flat TV ratings for the play-offs to the “No LeBron” factor, then you have to understand what is going to happen to the regular season if the stars start “phoning in” a significant part of it.
The turd floating in Commissioner Nosferatu’s punch bowl is that any changes must to involve collectively bargained approval from the players’ union AND the blessing of the owners. The players aren’t going to care as long as they still get paid, but the owners are another story.
This is a group where far too many are essentially economically insolvent with out the profit-generating minority. Out of the 30 teams in the NBA, there are 15 which have shown a net loss in at least two of the last three seasons.
Following that, there are still 9 teams which showed a loss after revenue sharing, two of which went into the red after making their revenue sharing payments.
* – showed a net loss after revenue sharing
You can crunch the numbers any way you like or you can even source your own numbers to crunch. The bottom line is a big chunk of this league doesn’t make money. Not only is that not sustainable long-term, it also means there won’t be a change to the schedule before it can be determined there won’t be a concomitant change in revenue. Obviously, nothing can happen with the schedule overnight because that requires collectively bargained approval from the players’ union, but at least the ball has been put in play.
5) Stop propping up franchises in bad markets.
The schedule problem brings us to what is easily the most critical issue facing this league. Sorry SportsChump, but the Orlando Magic really have no reason to exist. Neither do the Atlanta Hawks, the Memphis Grizzlies, or just about any other team on that list above of teams that are still in the red after receiving revenue sharing money. To be honest, a lot of the teams that are only profitable after getting money earned by other franchises share the same problem.
Granted, market size isn’t the only issue; bad management plays a large role as well; hence talking point #1 in this piece. Market size keeps the Knicks afloat, whereas the Magic have both problems. No matter how you slice it, to me the gravest indicator of the potential of a financial cratering of this league comes from the operating incomes of two franchises.
For purposes of clarity, “operating income” is the accounting term that measures the amount of profit realized from a business’s operations, after deducting operating expenses such as wages, depreciation, interest, taxes, and cost of goods sold. Look at those two numbers and consider the following.
These numbers are from the last complete NBA season for which all required financial reporting has been completed due to the difference in the NBA season and the calendar year; in this case 2017-2018. In other words, those numbers come from a season in which both those franchises were marquis/play-off teams. But since then, the Cavaliers parted with the biggest star in the league and plummeted to the bottom of the standings, and Oklahoma City lost it’s two star players. One can only imagine what those numbers will look like once they are finalized for 2018-2019.
To keep those numbers in perspective, while one can say that Oklahoma City is profitable, keeping in mind the average number across the league is in the $150 million range, depending on whose numbers you use.
More importantly, don’t forget much of this was hidden by the huge cash infusion the NBA received as part of its $24 billion TV deal with ESPN and TNT prior to the 2016-2017 season. But that check has been cashed, and there isn’t another one coming soon.
The bottom line is this league seems to be heading back to the days of the early 1980’s, when five or six franchises paid for the entire league, and the specter of bankruptcy loomed large.
6) Get Rid of Commissioner Nosferatu.
When Major League Baseball changed the “disabled list” to the “injured list” for the sake of “sensitivity,” I thought it was one of the dumbest things I’d ever heard. Never mind the fact we have toddlers taking line drives to the brain because we can’t figure out how to hang up $40 worth of protective netting, let’s tackle that horrible word situation.
Then Commissioner Nosferatu stepped up with the proverbial “hold my beer.”
Look at all the problems I just mentioned and add the fact that “Malice in the Palace II” is coming. You got a preview of coming attractions in this most recent NBA final with the incident between Toronto guard Kyle Lowry and the Golden State Warriors’ executive who shoved him during Game 3. There were calls to boot this guy from the league, but besides being an executive with the team, he’s also an investor worth seven figures., so the people who called for his head will have to settle for his getting a one-year ban and $500,000 fine.
But, let’s not deal with all those issues; instead let’s worry about another fucking word. Talk about fiddling while Rome burns. I gave this guy a lot of leeway until now, but this whole nonsense about the words “owner” just makes my brain bleed.
The NBA has banned the term owner, as in team owner, because it is racially insensitive and has replaced it with governor per commissioner Adam Silver. I am not joking. This is real life.
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) June 24, 2019
Draymond Green, who said he found the word owner racially insensitive and helped to lead the NBA to refer to all team owners as governors now, says he’s an owner of a business in his Twitter bio. You can’t even make this stuff up. pic.twitter.com/L04BOQrms5
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) June 25, 2019
That second tweet is what red-lines the stupid-o-meter and. It speaks for itself, and the fact that Commissioner Nosferatu took this seriously means he’s an idiot of the first order.
First of all, like I said…it’s a FUCKING WORD. Do you really expect me to believe a big-time professional athlete can be such a complete pussy that his feelings are hurt by a word not even directed AT HIM? The fact he uses that very same word to describe himself says this is a complete pant-load. Then there’s matter of the word used to replace the offending one; it’s really the best part of all this. If “owner” is racially insensitive because one can do some mental gymnastics to make it solely about slavery, then didn’t anybody notice that most of the biggest defenders of segregation during the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s in the south were GOVERNORS like Orval Faubus (Arkansas), presidential candidate George Wallace (Alabama) and the axe-handle waving Lester Maddux (Georgia)?
What it all comes down to is if Commissioner Nosferatu doesn’t have the seeds to stand up to this kind of nonsense, the NBA looks to weather the same kind of storms through which Kommissar Goodell took the NFL…the difference was The NFL was in far better financial shape to take that beating than the NBA is now.
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