I’ve seen this somewhere before, one of the four major professional sports enduring a lockout, but still managing to get just as much media coverage as when their season is up and running. For that, I credit the executives of both the National Basketball League (NBA) and the players union for making their best efforts to maintain interest in the league, despite the negative turmoil currently being realized.
In lieu of providing the boring details of the labour dispute and explain the various arguments and how they can be most readily remedied, I will instead provide you with a few things to consider enjoying this winter, if (or when) the NBA season does not commence for 2011-2012, such as the NHL did in cancelling a season seven years ago.
I have chosen to break this discussion down into three parts. The first is for people who still need their fill of Basketball, the next is for people who just need sports and not necessarily basketball and finally suggestions for those people who couldn’t careless and will watch anything instead of the NBA.
Considering my upbringing, I should belong to this category, essentially living in a gym since my birth (as my first ‘sports roadtrip’ was at 10 days old to Windsor for a minor basketball tournament with my family). But since I am not an NBA fan, I do not belong to this category.
So, you need your fill of basketball this winter–look no further than Alumni Hall–where your Western Mustangs Men’s & Women’s Basketball teams are set to kick-off their seasons. After a tumultuous .500 season last year, the men’s basketball team will look to compete with the OUA’s other elite teams. Your fanship at home games could be the difference in a couple close games this year. On the flipside of the gender card, you have the Women’s team, who are fresh off a 19-3 campaign last year and will look to continue their dominance of the provincial loop this season.
In addition, what would be a discussion of University basketball without a trip across the border to the NCAA, who despite popular belief does play an entire regular season before the ever-thrilling Conference Tournaments & March Madness that fellow PremierLife writer Claire McArthur speaks of so passionately. The Connecticut Huskies, coming off a National Championship last season will look to defend their title and are currently ranked 6th overall in the preseason rankings. The Kansas Jayhawks, who were upset in the Elite 8 by the Cinderella story Virginia Commonwealth in last years ‘Big Dance’ are the preseason favourite, and currently hold the #1 ranking in the preseason polls.
Sports Fan (doesn’t have to be basketball)
This would be the category where the bulk of readers will fit, and you are lucky—I am one of them!
In late July, the NFL adverted the work stoppage currently being felt by the NBA when the League and Players Union ratified a new CBA allowing teams to begin training camp only slightly later than in past years, but creating one of the greatest (and fastest) offseason free agent sprees in recent year, where a plethora of big name players changed uniforms. The NFL is, in my mind, the premier sports league in the world. Will I agree that they may not be the ‘most finely tuned’ athletes in the world (this is an argument for another argument, I would suggest), but rather the excitement of a fifth of the games of both the NHL & NBA and a tenth of the MLB regular seasons allows fans the opportunity to know exactly (within reason) they need to dedicate themselves week-after-week to their television, and their team. So without further discussion of the NFL, I suggest to you to fall in love with the game. Get a team and love them unconditionally. It’s worth it, I promise.
The NHL will outlast the NFL this winter, so this is another league and by extension television content to enjoy over the winter months. The absence of the NBA should pave the way for more coverage of mid-market NHL teams, which will allow those hockey fans who do not purchase NHL Centre Ice packages to see some of the world’s best players more often than just when they are playing the Leafs. With a seventh NHL franchise coming to Canada this year, there is no better time to get acquainted with ‘Canada’s Game’ as seen through the play of some of the World’s finest. Who knows, this could be the year the Leafs return to the promise land (the playoffs…baby steps folks!).
For the baseball fans, the World Series will no sooner end and spring training will be starting up, thanks to the longest regular season known to man. The wind down of the 2011 Regular Season, the epic collapse of the Boston Red Sox, combined with the excitement of the playoffs has fans intrigued and this euphoria may be enough to carry the MLB through the winter, without one of their main competitors for coverage time in the picture.
Sports-Free, since 1993
I just chose 1993 as an arbitrary number, and because it rhymed with “Sports Free”. I find it hard to believe that there will be too many people choosing to read this article, who have gotten this far who do not have some sort of interest in sport, but I will fulfill my above mentioned promise anyways and suggest a few non-sports related things to watch this winter, instead of the NBA.
My first request: Please don’t pull a 2004-2005 NHL Lockout and have something trivial and weird like Texas Hold-em suddenly become all the craze on TV. Great game, terrible programming—but that’s just my opinion.
In terms of great television series, I must suggest the obvious ones: How I Met Your Mother, Modern Family, Dexter & Parenthood. These are the four shows that I keep up with religiously, despite not actually subscribing to cable.
So there you have, programming for everybody as we ‘mourn’ a lost NBA season (or partial one anyways).
If you are really looking for your fill of NBA stars, rumour has it there is a consortium of players working together in the planning of a four-continent tour of exhibition games to raise money for charity.