Monday, July 12, 2010

Basketball Will Never Be America's Sport

A LeBron James poster in downtown Cleveland, Ohio from a Nike
advertising campaign to get American's interested in basketball.

LeBron, who?

NBA, what?

I'll admit it I was fascinated for a time with this whole free-agent saga in the National Basketball Association, a professional basketball league in the United States. All these players that I've never heard of, competing to play for all these teams that I've also never heard of. It was quite the spectacle!

But I grew weary. By Thursday evening the highest profile player of this little basketball-league-that-could, one Mr. LeBron James, who had played for a team called the "Cavaliers" of Cleveland, pulled off quite the "cavalier" move and jumped ship for the sunny beaches of South Florida to play for the "Heat" of Miami. He joins "D-Wade" and a guy named "Boch" to make them some sort of Three Musketeers of basketball.

This was all televised by the so-called Worldwide Leader in Sports, ESPN. All week they had been hyping this sports history moment, but it all felt artificial. Here the network that was the home of Monday Night Football, "Soccer Night in America", and College Football Game Day was forcing basketball down the throats of millions of mainstream sports fans with the dramatic, televised three-ring circus that was dubbed, "The Decision".

I've made my decision.

Basketball is boring.

It is a children's sport. Sure millions of kids play the sport growing up, but after that they're off to the soccer fields to play a real sport. I mean... what kind of sport only lets five kids play at a time?

There are players who's names I can barely pronounce. Dirk Nowitzki? Manu Ginobili? 姚明 (Yao Ming)? These names are giving my spell-check a headache!

Third, the diving. Oh, the diving! Players flopping about the court, looking for phantom fouls to give their teams the advantage they don't deserve. So unprofessional!

Fourth, the rules. They are so confusing! Two-points for some baskets and three-points for others. Then sometimes only one-point. Make up your minds, people! I have seen easy shots worth three-points and hard ones worth only two-points. It is like they are trying to make a scoring show out of everything. Make goals worth ONE. End of debate.

Fifth... two words: Thunder Sticks. One word: annoying. I can hardly make it through and entire match with out hearing the incessant banging of two inflated bars slapped together. I am told it is a part of America's basketball culture, but it made it very hard to watch the game on TV. I'm just glad I wasn't at the stadium! Perhaps NBA Comissioner David Stern should have listened to all of those critics before the Finals and banned them then maybe more Americans would be willing to watch the games.

Lastly, basketball is America has no history. The sport is barely 100 years old. Invented by throwing a ball through some peach baskets. Real complicated. Soccer has been played in the Americas since ancient Native tribes kicked around shrunken heads for religious ceremonies. Even modern soccer dates back to the time of baseball's creation during the Civil War. Names like Bethlehem Steel Corp and the Fall River Marksmen and Portland Timbers ring true through sports history unlike such laughably short-historied clubs like the Oklahoma City "Thunder" and the Toronto "Raptors". Are there any Raptors in Canada? My point exactly.

I tried. I really did. The NBA Finals, the end-of-the-season tournament that determines the world's champions of basketball (despite it being played only in America), was interesting. Apparently the two teams, the "Lakers" of Los Angeles and the "Celtics" of Boston (named after the storied soccer club from Scotland to try an catch some of their magic) faced off against each other. In seven games of action, the Lakers took the "crown" and Kobe Bryant is now considered one of the game's greatest players.

Where was this James character? Should your "finals" feature the games greatest players? If he deserves an hour-long, reality TV-like special shouldn't I have seen him showing his stuff against the best competition?

Soccer's World Cup never has this problem. Unless injured almost all of the world's (and this time we mean the whole world) best players are on display. And at least American's recognize their best players. Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, and Tim Howard are all household names among your average beer-swilling American.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas? Is that even a real name?

So now the Miami Heat are the favorites to win the NBA Title. Will Americans begin to care about this sport? For a few days in June and July Americans turned their eyes towards American basketball, but will it last?

The World Cup Final is this Sunday and Major League Soccer All-Star game will be in a few weeks against a real world champion Manchester United. The United States National Team will face Brazil in August just as the new NBA season kicks off.

Will Americans even notice?

"NBA: Where Amazing Happens?"

Yawn.

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16 comments:

Anonymous said...

funny, cause last time i checked its americas second most popular sport behind american football, baseball is third, and soccer/football is tied for 4TH with hockey, yea a shit ton of ppl cared about lebron, i watched it, so did millions of others, more americans probly viewed the decision tht will view the world cup finals, soccer is neveer going to b americas sport, quit trying

Anonymous said...

I never liked basketball, i'm a soccer fan...but what this guy said is just stupid

Free Beer Movement said...

Anon #1: Clearly you have idea how to appreciate sarcasm.

Anon #2: Can't tell if we're stupid or the first commenter is.

Nick said...

Anonymous -

First, next time leave a name (even if it's as fake as a 6 digit phone number) so we can at least have a normal discussion. Also, in that vein please use something that approximates proper grammar and spelling or we'll assume you're 10 years old and we'll treat your arguments as those from a 10 year old.

Second, the content of this post may be a little out there, but it's all tongue in cheek. It simply restates all of the arguments used against soccer becoming even somewhat accepted in this country, but turning those arguments onto a high-profile event for one of the major sports in this country.

Third, soccer/football may never be America's sport but we will never quit trying because we are Americans and that's what Americans do. Also, your stats on how many watched the Lebron-gate decision versus the World Cup Final are a little off. 16.9 million Americans tuned into the 2006 Final, and the game's popularity and viewing in the US has only increased with this tournament.

Boom - Lawyered.

Rakes of Mallow said...

Sarcasm, neither of you guys know what it is.

To put this in plain words, its a parody of the "Why America hates soccer" articles; some people are dense in this world.

Free Beer Movement said...

Nick and Rakes -

Thanks for the support. Glad you guys "get it".

Rakes of Mallow said...

Right when I saw the title I got it, I got a good chuckle out of this

johnapaz said...

Brilliant, just brilliant. Quality article, as always.

Keep up the good work FBM.

Mike said...

I liked this article...Us Americans always see gridiron football as the major sport...but I don't know why they make a big deal of naming the REAL football "soccer". to get everyone else mad? it's used with ur feet, so it's football, or futbol for most countries...they also like to pick on this sport as a non-contact sport...well, it's more contact than basketball, and don't flop az much...I'm glad someone was able to write a blog like this that Americans just don't seem to get...

B. Reynolds - Cleveland, OH said...

Satire of the highest order. Well done!

Mike said...

@Mike: "futbol in most countries"??? Really? If South and Central America contain most countries, maybe... Where shall I start... How about the Germanic countries (Germany, Austria and part of Switzerland): fussball or fußball. In French it is football. The Portuguese and Brazilians call it futebol (American phonetic = foochibowl) and the whiny divers call it calcio. I could go on...

@FBM: Very well written article! I love to read good satire. Unfortunately for the village idiots among us, well written satire is normally not written with your demographic in mind...

Anonymous said...

Dan:

I think it says something when NBA fans are worried enough about the spectacle of their sport to comment on a soccer publication promoting free beer.

I would think that LeBronophiles have better things to do.

Good piece.

Matthew
TheShinGuardian.com

Bobby said...

Beautiful sarcasm.

Five stars for you.

Free Beer Movement said...

Just to put icing on the cake (pretty sure you haven't come back to the site), but Anon #1... you stated "i watched it, so did millions of others, more americans (sic) probly (sic) viewed the decision tht (sic) will view the world cup finals"

Final verdict: 7.3 million for "The Decision" versus 9.9 million (not including Univision, bars, etc). If your math skills are anything like your English skills then I'll just spell it out for you.

MORE PEOPLE WATCHED THE WORLD CUP.

Biggy said...

this. is. brilliant.

sandy zulfikar said...

i am agree with your statement, because you explained it very well

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"Anyone who tells me soccer is boring, I'm going to punch them in the face."
- Former Dallas Burn (aka FC Dallas) coach Dave Dir

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