Home > NBA, NFL > NBA Lockout Vs. NFL Lockout: If you had to pick one…

NBA Lockout Vs. NFL Lockout: If you had to pick one…

Do we really want to miss out on watching these guys play together next year?

With the prospect of both the NBA and NFL being locked out for the 2011-2012 year, with girlfriends and wives in blissful anticipation, we could see a very depressed North American sports scene next year. ESPN may be reverted to concentrating on the NHL (Canada rejoices) or the baseball off-season.

PTI with Wilbon and Kornheiser with neither league in action could be interesting to say the least; dragging limited sports stories over a half hour show. Who knows, rich NBA and NFL players running around with no responsibility to their leagues could create enough news stories to keep ESPN and TMZ busy throughout the winter.

This being said, according to most sports media outlets the NFL is set to end the lockout within the next few days and resume the regular season as scheduled, while the NBA lockout, by all indications, is set to last the long haul.

Regardless, the question I have found myself wondering is, if I had to choose which league’s season was canceled while the other operated as normal, which one would I pick?

The leagues differ in a variety of different ways that makes this decision more difficult than it may seem on the surface. I am assuming that the casual sports fan would pick the NFL to operate while leaving the NBA to be cancelled. I on the other hand would like to describe myself as somewhat of a nerd fan of the NBA and the whole sports media culture around the NBA, so it makes it a bit harder for me to make this choice.

The NFL has a lot going for it. The league is fairly easy to follow and only has teams play once a week. The games are events that fans and media personalities build up all week, either through Sports Center, blogs, emails, Facebook, or just around the water cooler (this actually happens, as I can not attest to). People do not have to be invested into staying up late on a Wednesday to watch a Lakers home game that started at 8 PM Mountain Time to enjoy the NFL. Everyone knows when the games are played and that is usually when it‘s convenient for the average working North American. This is unlike the NBA which has sporadic scheduling that, especially in Canada, is rarely televised.

Fantasy football has to be one of the biggest reasons why most people would pick the NFL over the NBA. In no other sport can casual fans connect statistically to seemingly meaningless games between, say, the Cleveland Browns and the Detroit Lions. Even though the newcomer to fantasy football had no idea who Javid Best was prior to the fantasy draft in August, now they CARE whether or not he punches it in for that one yard TD. The NBA doesn’t have that type of mechanism to pull in the casual fan. No other sport does.

The NBA runs through an 82 game season, in which popular media often accuses of teams and players of not caring and not playing defense. The historically top heavy league, where the Celtics once won 12 championships in 13 years, is not watched with the same intensity as the NFL, at least not until the playoffs, because the league is just structured differently.

So, I feel like when we look at the two leagues on a mechanical level of how they operate and how the regular fan enjoys them, the NFL is going to win out. Sadly I cannot look at this hypothetical conundrum wearing blinders to the context of the individual situations these leagues are in currently. I am talking about the “eras” that the two leagues in right now.

The NFL, with its amazing ability to provide teams with a near level playing field each year, is in a seemingly constant flux in regards to the successful franchises. Yes, it is true that in the last few years we have become accustomed to the Steelers, Colts, and Patriots being in the playoffs, but the actual Super Bowl champions have been fairly unpredictable. A lockout next season is unlikely to kill any dynasty for the Green Bay Packers, nor would it seem to strip the fans of witnessing a team that is a “must-see-this-season” team.

NFL teams are usually retooling their rosters and starting lineups until December, and even after that they are cycling through running backs whose name I have never heard of like they are new versions of the iPhone.

When I think about the 2011-2012 NFL season, I don’t get the feeling of “we can’t miss this season because of (insert super interesting player) or (insert really interesting story line)”. It just isn’t there, not even to the same level it was last year with Ben Roethlisberger and his off field troubles with the law and his life time ban from all Chucky Cheese’s.

The NBA on the other hand is a whole different story. Parity, like in the NFL, is non-existent in the NBA. For example, including the season that just ended, since the 1999 season only 3 different teams have been crowned the Western Conference champions (Lakers, Spurs, and Mavericks). Even though this list of teams didn’t change this year, since the Mavericks were already on that list because of 2006, there is a feeling that a changing of the guard has begun.

I feel like the NBA has much more to lose by missing next season than the NFL does. Last summer, the NBA had one of the most polarizing events in sports occur when LeBron James made The Decision to join forces with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. Prior to the season even starting the NBA had everyone watching, listening and reading. The league didn’t let up once the season started either. The drama of what was happening in Miami was always at the forefront of the media’s attention, but in compliment to them, rising stars such as Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin, Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Love were starting to make random games between the Clippers and the Timberwolves exciting (an unspeakable statement during 2010).

Even the Finals, which is classically a letdown compared to the conference finals, were as good as they could have been and ended exactly how they should have. The Finals had a rematch of 2006, Dirk Nowitsky getting redemption for all of his career short comings, we have the Mavericks win for the first time in franchise history, veterans like Shaun Marion and Jason Kidd got their championship rings, and most importantly, the big bad Miami monster lost. The entire NBA world outside of Miami rejoiced, and so they should, since next year we are all going to have the same villain team to hate with more and more new/young teams to root for (think Chicago Bulls and OKC Thunder).

I can’t think of a time since when I started watching the NBA back in 2001 that I have been as interested in the upcoming season, bar the season that just finished. If the NBA locks out now, they are going to lose the momentum of the Miami hatred, the up-and coming Bulls and Thunder, possibly the last quality year out of Kobe Bryant, the bonding year for Carmelo and Staudemire in NYC and too many other things to name.

I might be leaning towards picking the NBA over the NFL for the upcoming year, but I don’t know. Maybe the NBA lockout would be good for the league in the long run and fix some of its financial problems, but it’s not fun thinking about what we might miss historically if this one doesn’t happen at all.

I want your thoughts though. Please, leave comments, I want to hear them!

Follow Matt on Twitter: @Matt FOTB

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