In regards to a conversation w/ Bill Simmons

31 10 2009

Will Leitch of The Sports Section recently sat down for a 3 part conversation [part 1, part 2, part 3] with the Sports Guy Bill Simmons. Here’s an quote from pt. 2 that I thought I would expand upon:

“See, I feel like the NBA is doing better than baseball and the ratings would certainly back that up. The last three World Series were the lowest rated ever. Baseball’s audience gets older each year, and they aren’t replacing it with younger fans, whereas that’s the NBA’s wheelhouse right now. The NBA is grabbing those kids between YouTube, video games, sneakers, and everything else. So that’s one problem. I also think baseball has a real credibility issue with sports fans in terms of trust (because of the steroids thing, which has tainted the past two decades, basically), and the time of the games (interminable); basketball doesn’t have either of those issues (although it does have the lousy ref issue)…Well, what happens in 2016 after the new stadium rush has worn off? That’s what I want to see. And again, the length of the games is interminable. For us, we’re used to it. No 12-year-old kid wants to spend four hours watching a baseball game.”

I think Simmons makes a great point here in regards to the future success of these two leagues. Maybe it’s easier for me to agree with this argument because of my waning interest in baseball in recent years, but the two leagues seem to be going in opposite directions. There’s been nothing but complaining in the blogosphere regarding the MLB playoffs. Let’s completely ignore the fact that the umps have been terrible and completely lost the trust of the common fan. Why? Well because the NBA is having there own issues with the officiating in an entirely different way. But think about the way that the league has handled the scheduling. The ALDS games were at odd times during the workweek. The ALCS games were spread apart in odd ways to try and maximize prime time exposure [while at the same time conflicting with my drinking schedule]. Then there was too long of a gap until the World Series started. No one is naïve enough to forget that this is a business. But when you lose the trust of the fans, you lose that core audience that supports you in down years and times of crisis [like a lockout].
Also, the games are so slow! In a generation where we get everything instantly and can’t read a three-page news article anymore without jumping to a new page, how are we supposed to sit through a 4-hour baseball game that has 6 pitching changes for each team? Kids aren’t able to stay up until midnight to watch their favorite team in the playoffs. I mean it’s the playoffs and they end up falling asleep in the 4th inning!
Simmons also brought up another interesting point about star power not mentioned in the above quote. The NBA is sitting pretty for the next 10 years with Lebron, Kobe, Wade, Bosh, Rose, etc. I mean the list of superstars in basketball is practically endless. But baseball’s superstars are in their mid thirties [not including Albert Pujols, but seriously, outside of St. Louis, the guy just doesn’t have the “star” effect]. When the well-known guys are past their prime or out of the league, who is the young generation going to turn to?
The only thing that the MLB has that the other leagues are behind on is a lead in the digital world. They have the best website, online content and ability to watch games either on your phone or computer. There is also a core fan base of sabermetrics [statistics folk] that are never going to ditch the game, because regardless of who’s playing, there will always be numbers to crunch.
What’s my point? Well I don’t really have one. Heck I don’t even like the NBA that much. I think the games [up until the last 4 minutes of the 4th quarter] are pretty unbearable. So basically what I’m trying to say is…watch some football? Oh and college basketball starts in a week. So get pumped people! My Tarheels are coming back with a young group of guys ready to repeat…





3 responses

2 11 2009
Anthony Biondo

Yeah, I love Bill Simmons and he said sort of the same thing when he was on the Colbert Report. I agree with you and I think the NBA star power is one of the main reasons for its “rise.” Do you like Simmons in general, being a Yankees fan?

2 11 2009

Yea the boston thing is tolerable because he’s a pretty solid writer. The guy knows a ton about the NBA so you’ve gotta respect him for that

2 11 2009
Anthony Biondo

Yeah I just got his new book its legit.

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