Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Random Nuggets

Having writer’s block is hell. Or maybe it’s the continued defragmentation of all that has been the last twelve months. Either way, there has been nothing new anywhere but Twitter and barely much substance there.

So, here it goes; several unfinished thoughts into one post. Maybe one of these bullet points will be fully earthed into a separate, significant post in the near future.

League Perceptions and Potential Lockouts: I’m probably the only person on the planet who thinks that the NBA will have its labor issues resolved before the NFL. Though I think neither loses any action, I think a major part of the reason why this belief that there’s a race to labor peace (and that the NFL will win out) is because of the perception of both leagues. The NFL… excuse me, I’m sorry… THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE is perceived as the can’t-do-wrong sports league. Its status as the country’s most popular entertainment company comes from having the premier television property that satiates America’s thirst for violent hits and amazing athleticism. The NFL is pop culture, period.

The Association, meanwhile, has been battling image issues seemingly since the dawn of time. Race, xenophobia, market sizes, the culture war between NBA fans and college basketball fans, etc. The NBA has a compelling product that is enjoyed globally and has more talent spread across the league now than at any point in its history. However, it seems as if the problems (real and perceived) the league had battled in the 1970s and in the first few years of the post-Michael Jordan era continue to define who its players and teams are, despite increased popularity across the board. And this was all before The Decision.

We can read the CBAs of both leagues and find different interpretations to make our points. The problem with all of that is that we are still looking through preconceived notions set long ago. The NFL has become like the car and financial companies the government bailed out during this recession; it’s become too big to fail because of all the connected parties that have invested pretty much all their eggs in this one basket. Even though the economic impact is quite strong as detailed here, the NBA is treated by some as somewhat disposable, especially by those fans and media personalities who assail on the league at every opportunity.

Though one opinion is stressed here, let’s do ourselves a favor and let this all play out. Truth be told, there won’t be peace between the camps in the League or Association unless they a) stop negotiating through the public and b) go through EVERY SINGLE LINE ITEM in their agreements.

Get Teeth: Speaking of line items, I would hope that the NFL spends a significant amount of time going through the Personal Conduct Policy with a fine-toothed comb. The premise was noble, but seems more like a public relations ploy that placated the masses after a deluge of embarrassing player arrests in 2007. Some feel that it’s uneven in regards to treatment of players and coaches while others – like myself – look for more teeth in how it handles certain matters such as sexual harassment and any version of driving while impaired (DUI, DWI, whatever, it’s all driving while pretty damn stupid). While it was a tremendous coup for Commissioner Roger Goodell to place his stamp early in his stewardship, there’s little reason for him to remain the one-man judge, jury and executioner.

Unlike other businesses and organizations that create committees, the NFL has committees that actually do things. Look to the Competition Committee that shifts rules every season as an example. A committee or some form of panel that metes out discipline would make the policy stronger. It could be a three or five person board where members are elected by the league, coaches, team executives and the players’ association. All sides would have to come to a consensus for how to handle disciplinary matters. Since the policy was enacted in public view, each group would be subject to the same scrutiny as the League is now in punishing players, coaches and other league personnel.

Hardwood Goodness for Your Coffee Table: On the trip to Orlando, I had been reading Free Darko’s The Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History. Anyone who considers themselves as sports fan should really pick up this absolute gem of a book, especially those who consider Bill Simmons to have the foremost mind on the NBA in the media. It’s a book that strips the bias, bring the gods to earth and elevates the plebes we all forgotten. Go cop it, as the kids (me) used to say.

In the Spirit of Kelis: When the Divisional Round came up last weekend, her first single, "Caught Out There" immediately came to mind. Why? It was the fantasticly simple chorus, 'I hate... you so much right now! 'I hate... you so much right now! AAAAAAAAAAAAH! 'I hate... you so much right now!"

It popped to mind because over the last two years, it seems as if the Dallas Cowboys were quickly surpassed as THE most despised team in NFL fandom. It also seems that the New England Patriots have competition as well. With the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers playing in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday, I think it’s far to consider how much fans around the nation truly hate hearing about them, watching them and watching them succeed. Where do they rank among the most despised teams in the league (because they’re in the top four in my opinion)?

No comments: