A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The NBA and sportsmanship

John wants to know why I'm putting effort into talking about the NFL draft but haven't mentioned the NBA at all. I suppose the reasons are two-fold. The short reason is that my team, the Milwaukee Bucks, pretty much sucked all year and aren't in the playoffs, so I don't care too much about the teams left.

On the longer, more involved side is my nearly total lack of enthusiasm for NBA-style basketball. It seems to be so much one-on-one "hey, look at me ain't I grand" antics by preening punks who seem to feel they are entitled to mega-millions instead of incredibly grateful that God granted them tremendous talent and people willing to pay to see them display that talent. College b-ball is, sadly, starting to go that direction, but it is still much more of a team game rather than a one-on-one Sportscenter highlight reel seeking adventure.

It is unfortunate, but not surprising, that there is no intrinsic relationship between character and talent. Talent is largely just genetics and luck-- it is inborn, and while developing it requires time and effort, the raw material is God-given. Character is a result of experience and education and environment. Things like sportsmanship, work ethic, respect for others, and forgiveness are learned behaviors, and while all professional sports are full of their share of poor sports with lousy work ethics, no respect for others and little or no forgiveness in their souls (let's give a big shout out to Randy Moss and Barry Bonds), the NBA seems to be, pun intended, the most full of it. Part of this is likely the NBA's willingness to accept high school graduates into its ranks. Look back on your life and think about how much of your development as a well-adjusted, socially acceptable adult occured between the ages of 17 and 21. Much of that is lost for the young men who enter the NBA as sophomores in college or younger.

Beyond that, there are some other things that bug me about the NBA. The season is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyy to long. Marketing for the league seems to be aimed at, for lack of a better phrase, the thugs of our society--the NBA targets hip-hop and rap and the gansta aspects of society. Their salary structure is all messed up, and the price of attending a game is just ridiculous.

Compare this to the NFL. Their season is shorter, with each game being worth a LOT because there are only 16 of them in the regular season (I would argue that the preseason is too long). They refused to let a sophomore enter the draft (Maurice Clarett) because kids that young aren't ready to play at the professional level and they didn't want their product damaged. The NFL markets to the mainstream of America, and has made a strong effort to reach out to women in recent years. If the NBA is going with rap and hip-hop, the NFL is going for rock, pop, and country. Which one do you think has a broader demographic appeal? And while an NFL game isn't cheap, it is only slightly more expensive than an NBA game, with the average ticket price in 2004 being ~$45 for the NBA and ~$54 for the NFL.

Anyway, there's more, but I think I've blathered enough on this topic. I probably will watch the conference finals and the finals, and I'm rooting for Phoenix and Seattle since my gambling degenerate friend Jim has money on those two teams, but the NBA just doesn't interest me right now. Heck, I'm more interested in MLB right now (Brewers have won FIVE straight! Woot! They are approaching mediocrity!), than I am in the NBA.


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