Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Apathy and disgust, conquered

The NBA missed its Opening Night last night due to the lockout.

I'm in the minority when I say:  I miss it.  I cheer for competition in baseball, for hockey, for football, for soccer, and yes, for basketball.  (Not auto racing.  Not golf.)

I'm not happy when my Washington Wizards lose games, but I'm used to it.  I'm really not thrilled when an entire league loses games.

There are complex issues at work in the lockout, I realize.

Generally, I fall on the side of the players.  The owners not only make more money and have more job stability, they have longer primes.  An owner can run a basketball franchise much longer than a player can play the game.

Additionally, to put this into simple mathematics, let's say the Cleveland Cavaliers before LeBron James sold only 47% of their tickets, with LeBron James sold 99% of their tickets, and after LeBron James sold only 43% of their tickets.  (This is hypothetical, mind you, not fact.)  Don't you think James deserves a share of the profits that the Cavs made, especially since it was based upon his presence?  I'd say so.  I don't mind a player making an exorbitant amount of money as long as he in turn helps his employer profit.  That's what it comes down to, in the end:  Win games, make money, and not always in that order.

Setting aside the lockout, though...

The solution to every athlete and sport's problem has always been:  Play the game.

Michael Vick needs to revitalize his image?  Baseball needs to recuperate from the steroid scandals?  Brawls and referee controversy in the NBA?  Recruiting and agent problems in college football?

The games play on, and all is forgotten.

I don't like a lot of things about college football.  I don't like the polls, the BCS, the conferences, the coaches, the fraud of "student-athletes," the recruiting -- heck, I don't even like the Heisman Trophy.  (Wait until after the National Championship to hand it out and then we'll know who the best player in college football is.  No more chumps like Jason White or Troy Smith who couldn't cut it against a good team.)  But I love the game of college football, what transpires on the gridiron.  When I watch Stanford play USC or Boise State play Georgia, I forget about all of the game's woes.

The World Series was its own best advertisement for baseball.  You may not like a heck of lot of things about the Major Leagues, whether it's the Yankees payroll or commissioner Bud Selig or the way the DH is ignored by one league and glorified by the other.  Still, all of those concerns fade away when the game is compelling, and the 2011 World Series was FILLED with compelling baseball.

(The NFL is an exception.  The NFL is producing terrible football right now.  I'm hoping it's just a funk that will be straightened out by season's end, but seriously - the last time the NFL was good, Tom Brady and the Patriots were going for it on 4th down against the Colts, 11/15/09.)

The NBA is dealing with apathy right now.  When the owners and players' association figures things out and comes to a deal, it may very well still have to deal with an apathetic or disgusted public...

Until, that is, the NBA produces compelling, exciting basketball once more.

Then all will be forgotten.

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