Thursday, November 20

Pretty Graphic

For further illustration of the NBA's situation, take a look at the chart below, showing the per-game attendance of the Philadelphia Flyers (pink) and 76ers (blue).

The Flyers started off the season with six consecutive losses. That's right SIX.

The Sixers picked up one of the top prizes of the off-season (Elton Brand), and were expected to be a contender in the Eastern Conference.

The Flyers have drawn more than 18,000 in all eight of their games this season.

The Sixers have yet to crack 16,000.

Can someone explain that to me? Is it just ticket prices? Is it something more?

13 comments:

Neb said...

My feeling is that there's a general lack of interest due to the way the "teams" are managed today. It used to be star players, Jordan, Magic, Bird, would stay with their teams their entire career, and build a cohesive unit that became a family, not only among themselves but to the fan base at large. Now players just go where the money is. Or where they think they'll win more (read: Shaq). Screw the team, screw the fans. Give me the money (read: Brand).

The disinterest has been brewing for years now, and the economy could be a catalyst for the downfall of this league in no small way.

And after what Stern did to Seattle, I really couldn't care less if the entire league shut down.

Neb said...

My feeling is that there's a general lack of interest due to the way the "teams" are managed today. It used to be star players, Jordan, Magic, Bird, would stay with their teams their entire career, and build a cohesive unit that became a family, not only among themselves but to the fan base at large. Now players just go where the money is. Or where they think they'll win more (read: Shaq). Screw the team, screw the fans. Give me the money (read: Brand).

The disinterest has been brewing for years now, and the economy could be a catalyst for the downfall of this league in no small way.

And after what Stern did to Seattle, I really couldn't care less if the entire league shut down.

Neb said...

damn double-click mouse.

CT said...

Philly's dirty little secret for years has been that it is, in its blackest heart of hearts, a hockey town. :)

The Flyers have clung to the Broad Street Bullies reputation that led them to their 2 Stanley Cups 35 years ago, and that's a big part of their sustaining appeal. It's the NHL's equivalent to the Raiders Mystique. Thus it puts asses in the seats, through good times and bad.

The Sixers don't have an equivalent team persona -- they work on the comings and goings of star power, from Barkley to Iverson etc. And as far as I know, right now they have a vacancy there.

Anonymous said...

Philadelphia is a hockey city though - the Flyers are always going to outdraw the Sixers. It's been this way since the 70s - the Flyers are even a top 5 valued franchise in the NHL - http://www.forbes.com/2008/10/29/nhl-team-values-biz-sports-nhl08_cz_mo_kb_1029nhl_land.html

And Philly has a minor league hockey team in the old Spectrum (the Philadelphia Phantoms) which also performs remarkably well with attendance.

I'm not from Philly, but I'm well aware that Philly fans are hardcore into hockey. Hardcore Sixers fans? Not as many.

Anonymous said...

NEWSFLASH! Hockey is going to beat NBA soon enough. This is just the start. NBA is a joke with corrupt officials and players.

Anonymous said...

Is it just the ticket prices? HELLO!! NHL tickets are much more expensive than NBA tickets! So wouldn't you expect the opposite!?

Nathan said...

Hey, NHL fan here. I'm coming at this from a hockey fan's perspective... not a big NBA fan, but respect you guys nonetheless! :-)

Anyway, what others have said is right. The Flyers are undoubtedly one of the best supported US-based NHL team. They are in a small group of American clubs (with Detroit, NY Rangers, Boston, and Minnesota) that is in that top group with the Canadian clubs in terms of the strength and size of their fanbases. Thanks to the economic slump hitting Michigan two years ahead of the curve, even the Wings have had some minor attendance issues, despite the Cup win -- though their incredibly strong local FSN TV numbers show that the fan support is still alive and well... people just can't afford games.

Even clubs that'd you'd expect to be consistent draws, like Chicago, Colorado, and Pittsburgh suffer a bit. Colorado has a lot of fair-weather fans, and Pittsburgh, similar to Buffalo, has a lot of great die-hards, but because it's a smaller city, when the team has slumped, they haven't been able to keep butts in the seats. Chicago was bad for a long time. Until last season they weren't even on TV for the longest time. For that reason, there's an entire generation of kids in Chicago that have no freakin' clue what hockey is all about. As a contrast, even in the "Dead Wings" era in Detroit, local hockey and youth programs were still alive and well. Same thing with Boston and Minnesota (heck, they were hockey made even when they didn't have a team).

What does this have to do with the NBA? Well, for starters, I'm just pointing out that hockey is a much more regional game in the states than the NBA is. People make good points about the national (and local) TV ratings of NBA games still being good. Save for maybe Detroit, Minnesota, and Philly, I would guess that in markets that have a team in both the NHL and NBA, the NBA has better TV numbers even if the attendance isn't showing it. So, with all that said, the NBA and the sport of basketball are going to be much more popular in the U.S. as a whole than hockey. No doubt about it.

Also consider the NHL work stoppage. The NHL, as a result of that stoppage, is a couple years ahead of the NBA when it comes to finding interesting ways of getting fans in the seats (lowering prices, giveaways, etc.). The NBA is just now feeling the economic crunch the way the NHL has essentially been feeling it since the run-and-gun era of the game faded in the early '90's as Bettman stretch the game to bad hockey markets to rake in expansion money for his base clubs. Give the NBA a season or two to adjust, and then let's see.

Now, on the other side of the coin, I do see some things that support your concern for NBA attendance numbers.

First and foremost, like has been said, attendance numbers are down. I think it's fair to attribute this to the economy, since TV numbers are still excellent, but you cannot ignore attendance and popularity (or lack thereof) of clubs in places like Sacramento and Memphis. Frankly, what we have is a case of David Stern doing just what his protege did -- blew the league up way to big, and put the sport in markets that had no interest in the sport or sustainability via corporate presence. Big mistake.

Second thing is that from my perspective (which may be wrong -- PLEASE correct me if I'm wrong about this, you guys are the NBA die-hards, not me), not only did the NBA's expansion and spread to smaller markets hurt because the markets had no sustainability, but it hurt because the talent pool isn't there.

(The one thing that we can say in the NHL is that while there was some initial thinning of the talent pool after the last two expansions in the NHL, the league is right now at its highest talent level EVER, even with 30 teams, even with 6 - 12 of them in questionable hockey markets. The NHL is in a weird position because it has talent to have 26 - 30 teams, but does NOT have the markets to sustain any more than 26 teams, IMO.)

The NBA, on the other hand, doesn't seem to have the same talent pool. I'm not sure why this is, you guys probably know. Is it because of guys coming straight from high school and not developing their games? Whatever the reason is, the basketball that I do watch on occasion doesn't seem nearly as good as it was in the '80's and through the mid '90's. The Spurs have been a great team, and the Lakers were excellent for a stretch there. But right now it seems like it is tough for teams to build a deep bench because the talent pool isn't there. There are some great, exciting stars in the game (Chris Paul, LeBron, Deron Williams, Kobe) and some HOF-calibre veterans (Shaq, Duncan, Ray Allen, Garnett). But where's the depth? Other than the Spurs, who has had that dominant organizational depth in the NBA, the way the Red Wings, Sharks, or Stars have had it in the NHL?

Defenses seem weaker than ever in the NBA (weak to the point that Chauncey Billups was making the NBA All-Defensive Team simply because he had Ben Wallace cleaning up for him). Even the Pistons and Spurs don't seem to have the tough defending they did just three years ago. LeBron James is great offensively, but he doesn't do it all the way Jordan did. I don't know... just from a casual NBA fan's perspective, the NBA is a sloppier, less talented league now than it was about 15 years ago, while on the other hand the NHL is seeing both some of the best defensive and offensive talents it has EVER had right now.

Third, I have to agree that I think the NBA does more to fluff up attendance than the NHL. And I think this simply because it's easier to give away NBA tickets in more markets than it is NHL tickets.

Make no mistake about it. The NBA is a much more popular sport in the U.S. than hockey. But at the same time I fully agree that, as a result, it makes it just that much more concerning when the NBA is being outdrawn by the NHL.

At a time like this though, you can't over-analyze it -- the economy is crapping, and that makes it real tough on luxuries like going to sporting events.

Now don't get me wrong, I think Stern is as much of a dick as you guys do... after all, his protege Little Gary Bettman has just about ruined the NHL.

Hnk_Jr said...

NHL expansion in Seattle is the Answer. Call them the Seattle Soniques, and offer cheap airfare back and forth between Quebec and Seattle. Done, problem solved.

steff said...

Seattle Soniques... lol

Hnk_Jr said...

Steff - Imagine the possibilities! Vancouver @ Seattle, we could call it the Duty-Free Cup! Now, I just got to figure out a way to get Bettemen to make it happen so we can issue a Roller Derby challenge to the Trailblazers.

Never fear, I'm on the case.

Anonymous said...

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11/21/2008 11:23 AM

Is it just the ticket prices? HELLO!! NHL tickets are much more expensive than NBA tickets! So wouldn't you expect the opposite!?




^not really, hockey tickets aren't much more expensive than NBA tickets. Get your facts straight.

Anonymous said...

NEWSFLASH! Hockey is going to beat NBA soon enough. This is just the start. NBA is a joke with corrupt officials and players.


^yeah right. When the hockey finals will beat the world series, exactly like the NBA Finals did last season, then we'll talk. As far as the corrupt officials, no one else (besides Donaghy) was found guilty. Honestly, I don't like accusing people (officials in this case) to be criminals based on a bad call. Aren't you innocent until proven guilty? Besides, there's a pretty nice report on NBA refs on USA Today. Maybe you should read it 'cause I'm sure it will change your perceptions about them. Plus, everyone who knows one thing or two about basketball KNOWS that this game is the hardest sport to officiate. Lots of judgment calls that can go either way..plus the speed of the game and the quickness of those athletes make it hard to officiate. So, SHUT UP.