Negotiations for a new contract began, but in general, they have not gone well. Today, with the NBA strike heading into its fifth month and with two weeks of the regular season already cancelled, both players and owners are hoping to make a deal quickly and hold on to good will from a 2010-2011 season that saw the Dallas Mavericks take home the championship for the first time.
While the players and owners attempt to work out a new CBA and put an end to this work stoppage, let’s take a look at who and what else is affected by a strike in sports.
Sure, the athletes are the main attraction, but someone has to maintain the facilities they play in, sell tickets to the games, and keep the athletes in tip top shape. While the athletes may have guaranteed salaries and business owners may have other businesses to keep them busy, often league employees, who work for the individual teams and for the parent company (the National Basketball Association) are similar to employees in any other business. If the league is not making money, neither are they.
When there is a strike in sports, you will see an increase in broadcasts of “lower profile” sports such as soccer, bowling, and X Game-style competitions (such as skateboarding) on major sports networks such as ESPN. You may also see an increase in reruns of your favorite sitcoms from the 90’s and today. No, the programmers have not suddenly developed new interests. They are trying to fill slots that would normally be filled by the major league sports that traditionally draw ratings. Keep an eye out for this if the NBA strike continues.
“Casual “ Sports Fans
Do you only watch the NBA during the NBA Finals? Do you attend Super Bowl parties for the free food but don’t care who is playing? Do you fill out your NCAA Tournament Bracket according to the colors of the team’s uniforms? Congratulations – you are a “casual” sports fan – and there’s nothing wrong with that! While dedicated sports fans keep up with their sports all year round, it is the casual fans that make the world – and leagues – go round (and make advertisers very happy). The problem with casual sports fans, however, is that once the sport is gone, so is the fan – and sometimes, those fans do not come back. For some NBA teams, especially in smaller markets, this is a very real possibility.
College Sports and Athletes
Some college athletes spend years perfecting their crafts with the hope of going pro one day. When a league goes on strike, it can affect everything from where an athlete goes to school to how long they stay there. In order to enter the NBA Draft – where NBA teams pick who they want to join them – you must be 19 years old to be considered draft-eligible. College players with professional dreams faced a real dilemma this summer. They had to decide whether to be drafted for a team that might not play at all and lose their college eligibility, or to stay in school another year (or two) and risk not getting drafted the next year. Many college stars opted to stay in school, and as a result, this year’s NBA Draft (which was held in spite of the strike) was considered one of the weakest in recent memory.
All is not lost, however. When the NBA does resume – whether it is now or next season - many believe that the League as we know it will be better for it. Here’s hoping that they are welcomed back with open arms.