Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NBA's loss is the NHL's gain

The best thing that could have happened to the NHL this season? The NBA lockout. I swear, without basketball, I have seen so many more hockey highlights on ESPN and other networks. Last year, they barely covered hockey at all, even during the Stanley Cup. Compare that to the NBA Finals, when entire 30 minute segments were dedicated to basketball analysis. Hockey just doesn't seem to carry that same weight in the media. Except this year.

With no basketball to attract TV audiences and sports fans, hockey has received much more exposure. On Sundays and Mondays, the NFL reigns supreme, and on Saturdays, NCAA football is what everyone talks about, but Tuesday through Friday, the NHL gets tons of publicity. Never before has ESPN talked so much about a player who isn't even on the ice (Sidney Crosby) or a team that is in its first season in its new city (Winnipeg Jets). Hell, even the Florida Panthers are getting air time. If basketball was going on right now, we would be hearing all about Kobe, LeBron, Dwight, Chris Paul, Amare, and all the other polarizing NBA stars. But they're not here to steal the spotlight.

I've always appreciated every other sport more than basketball for some reason. Maybe it has something to do with scoring. In baseball and hockey, every run/goal counts. Scores are in single digits and games are close. Even in football, where scores are high, scoring is done in 3 and 7 point chunks so they do not actually score that often. In basketball, however, teams score every minute. A 3-pointer in the first quarter is not going to decide a basketball game, whereas a 3-run first inning could very well seal the deal for a baseball club with an ace on the mound. When a basketball game is on, I just turn on the TV with perhaps 5 minutes remaining in the game and I see all the excitement I need to see. The first 43 minutes of a basketball game just aren't that interesting. And more than half the time, the teams are within 4 points of each other when I start to watch anyway, so I don't really miss much action. Scoring is simply too frequent in basketball, and I think it dilutes the overall excitement.

The inverse of that statement illustrates why I love hockey. Every goal counts and can change the course of the game. And that is why I am so happy that hockey is finally getting some attention on some major sports networks. It is a great game and people are starting to notice it more and more. I hope it continues to grow, because it is truly fun to watch.

The NBA lockout was literally the best thing that could happen to hockey this season. Let's hope it brings about more national spotlight for hockey for years and years to come.

What do you think, is the NBA lockout good or bad for hockey?

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