The 2020 NBA Season has been one completely unlike any other in history. A four month break in the middle of the season due to a pandemic isn’t exactly something the NBA has seen before. And thanks to COVID-19 not only have we still not crowned a champion for this season, but the NBA has been forced to play games in front of video boards instead of fans. Following a call with the Board of Governors this week, Adam Silver said they expect to have to move back the draft and the start of next season, which they had tentatively set as December 1st. This news brings about a unique opportunity to discuss something the NBA should seriously consider: A revamped, more logical NBA Calendar. One that is around 70 games and starts on Christmas Day and ends in Early September. There are so many reasons this makes sense for not only the NBA, but fans of the game as well.
With the uncertainty of how next season could unfold due to COVID-19 and the season schedule already up in the air, now is the perfect opportunity to make some much needed permanent changes to the NBA Calendar. Starting on Christmas Day and shortening the season would help both the owners and fans alike. It would eliminate the scheduling conflicts between the start of the NBA season and other major sporting events. The NBA’s television ratings would increase due to the lack of competition and they would also be able to shorten a bloated schedule and eliminate back to back games. Giving the NBA center stage in the middle of summer would be a win win for everyone involved and is something they should seriously consider as a permanent change.
For starters, the NBA already owns Christmas Day. Adam Silver already showcases the best matchups between rivals and championship contenders. Why not push back the start of the regular season to then and cut off the two months at the beginning of the year, when ratings are the lowest? When the league first decided to go with the schedule they have had for as long as anyone can remember, it was at a time when the sports landscape looked nothing like it does now.
Then, baseball was the most popular sport in the country, America’s past time. The NBA knew better than to try and schedule the majority of their games in the summer, so as not to compete for fans with the sports juggernaut that was Major League Baseball. Now, football is the most popular sport in the country, far eclipsing the popularity of the NBA and MLB, the latter of which has fallen to a distant third. With a Christmas Day start, they would only have to compete with the NFL playoffs for a few weeks instead of a few months. The NBA would own the summer the way the NFL owns the fall. There are a few advantages for teams and fans alike.
Fans would get the added benefit of a full NBA and NFL season that don’t overlap nearly as much as before, meaning the days of deciding between Monday night football and the Celtics game would be a thing of the past. Imagine all 12 calendar months having either NBA basketball or NFL football! Not to mention the NBA wouldn’t be staging their opening night of the season the same day as game one of the World Series. By finishing the season in early September they would be able to almost completely avoid the NFL season thanks to a shorter regular season.
During any normal year, if you tried to convince the NBA Board of Governors to agree to fewer chances to fill their stadiums and rake in those ticket sales, you wouldn’t get very far. That’s where the pandemic has actually helped affect this needed change to the NBA Calendar. And the bubble experiment in Orlando, as well as the play-in tournament should be enough proof to show Adam Silver and the owners that not only can basketball work throughout the summer, it has world. And by adding a midseason, or play-in tournament could easily regain any lost revenue due to less games.
If coronavirus taught the NBA anything it’s that basketball in the late summer months not only could work, it has worked. Fans have been glued to their TVs thanks to the playoff like atmosphere caused by the bubble as well as the play-in games for the 8th seed being so entertaining. This experiment in Florida has shown that play-in or midseason tournaments could easily make up the revenue lost from a handful of missed games. Not to mention the ratings boost the league would see thanks to no longer competing with the NFL and World Series would help to make up the lost revenue as well. Add in the chance that their might not be fans in the arenas anyway and it makes too much sense not to make this a permanent change going forward.
Picture source: @NBA/twitter
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