In this week’s Around the Dorm, the “Ref,” Alex Wolfe, challenges Staff Writer Peter Fiorilla, Opinions Editor Danny Pazos and Correspondent Kevin Black to answer questions about the fate of the NBA in the heated lockout and labor negotiations, where college football is headed with the constant conference realignments and who Kim Kardashian should shoot for next.
1. The NBA labor talks have stalled again, and the league may end up missing more than just November (which has already been canceled). What are the chances that the NBA has a season, and what would be the ramifications if the season is canceled?
PF: The chances that the NBA has a season are small but alive, because some of the players can’t afford to lose too much money and know that the league’s offers will only get worse from here on out. The chances are still low, though, as the union will do everything it can to oppose the NBA’s unfriendly terms. The ramifications of a lost season could be hugely negative for both parties. People will lose interest and start spending their money on other sports leagues, which grow while the NBA becomes weaker. For proof, just look at Major League Soccer’s (MLS) average attendance in 2011, which grew 6.6 percent to make MLS the third-best attended league among pro sports with 17,870 fans per game (ahead of the NBA’s 17,319). This stat is flawed in a few ways, but the point is that there are a lot of alternatives to basketball. The NBA loses casual fans to those alternatives each day people don’t get their daily dose of Big Three drama or Blake Griffin play.
DP: The NBA season has to happen this year. It is too popular of a sport in the U.S. and generates too much revenue to not have a season. Obviously the NBA doesn’t generate as much money as the NFL does, but you can’t deny the fact that in a situation where there is no season, everyone loses out. You can’t ignore how this hurts the fans as well; they have to go an entire year without basketball. It’s just not right. Also, when playing in foreign leagues, players don’t get the experience they need playing at the highest level. They won’t progress properly when not playing with their teams in the best league in the world. Finally, it has players possibly doing ridiculous things, like LeBron thinking about playing football. He is a basketball player. Get him and his colleagues on the court somehow.
KB: There’s a 15 percent chance, because you would think that once players start losing paychecks on a regular basis, they will come to the table and be more willing to make a deal. What I feel may put a hold on things is if the players are taking a look at decertifying if things do not improve after this past weekend (and I don’t expect them to). Things look very bleak with the talk of dissension on both sides. The big-market owners versus small-market, players versus Derek Fisher (player representative in the Players’ Union) and players versus Billy Hunter (the president of the Players’ Union). If there is no season played, the NBA will lose a lot of the fans it may have gained just in the past year. Last year was one of the best seasons in a long time, and to follow that up with having no season would just kill the league’s momentum. Fans are already starting to turn away and look toward other sports, like hockey, so the process is already beginning. The process of gaining the fans back if the season is lost would be a long struggle. Ask the NHL how long it took for them to win people back.
AW: Kevin gets 3 for pointing out the ugly situations on both sides of the lockout. Peter gets 2 for stating that niche sports like soccer could take over in lieu of the NBA. Danny gets 1 for stating that the players don’t have much competition overseas.
2. The major conferences in college football seem to be in constant flux lately, with teams perpetually jumping ship. What is going to be the end game for this game of conference musical chairs?
PF: Regardless of which teams are in which conferences when the dust settles, one thing is crystal clear about conference realignment: Fans will ultimately suffer because of it. The fans of smaller schools, which the NCAA is trying to make obsolete, obviously have the most to lose. They will feel left out after the rise of a handful of “superconferences,” which will essentially keep small schools from winning the BCS. And fans of big schools will not like the changes that come from conference realignment, either. Historic and regional conference rivalries will die, and new conference rivalries will feel manufactured and contrived. The fans of Texas A&M, for example, are going to have a tough time finding reasons to hate their new SEC foes, none of whom are located in Texas. In the end, conference realignment just sucks for the fans.
DP: The college football conference system is already difficult to understand for someone who doesn’t follow it closely. The BCS bowl system and the way these college teams are sorted is under constant review and generates countless arguments about how teams should be organized and ranked. For someone following most other sports, it is easy to see why each team lands in a particular division or conference. Most people don’t understand how or why a team lands in the national championship or a seemingly meaningless bowl game. Money and exposure are the real driving forces behind appearing in bowl game. I can’t see many fans being happy that their team won the Little Caesar’s pizza bowl. No matter how these teams are organized within conferences and eventually ranked for a playoff system, the general public will still shake their heads at the confusion that is college football. Luckily, the games are still somewhat entertaining.
KB: I feel like this is only the beginning, because it looks like some conferences may be set for now while others are scrambling to keep things together. The best example would be the Big East. They are sending out offers to Boise State, Houston and SMU. Geographically, those places make no sense (neither did TCU before they backed out), but it’s all about money in the end. Some of the other big conferences, like the Pac-12, Big-10 and ACC, are set in their ways and want to stand pat for now, but they realize the money that is at stake. This is more about football than anything, which the Big East realized by not picking places like Temple or Memphis, which would have made more sense. At the end of the day, there is more money out there to be had by these major conferences, and getting an automatic BCS bid is the end goal for these conferences. This is what the schools want, and if moving to a bigger conference or the merger of conferences here and there help, we are well on our way to having maybe 4-6 complete superconferences.
AW: Peter gets 3 for pointing out that rivalries of the past stand to suffer. Kevin gets 2 for pointing out the absurdity of how some of these conferences are aligning. Danny gets 1 for pointing out that the realignment could confuse casual fans.
3. Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries are splitsville, and the whole world is weeping (at least the tabloids would have you think so). Kardashian has already been involved with Reggie Bush as well, so who do you think her next marginally successful athletic beau will be?
PF: Kim will want to ruin a new athlete in a new media market, and why not Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots? A Kim-Gronk relationship might make Bill Belichick’s blood boil, but that’s just one of the many positives which make this a good match. The young Gronkowski proved how desperate he is for attention (and women) a few weeks ago when he released photos of himself and porn star BiBi Jones together in an apparent publicity stunt. A relationship with Kim would get him a lot more of the publicity that he craves, and it would get Kim a golden opportunity to permanently connect herself with the Golden Boy’s (Tom Brady’s) wildly successful team, the Patriots. And unlike Kim’s past boyfriends/husbands/etc., Gronkowski is actually good at what he does. He is considered by many to be a premier tight end in NFL, a reputation that would be great for the Kardashian brand. This is a win-win scenario for both parties, and ultimately, Kim-Gronkowski would be a (media) match made in heaven.
DP: Kim has a plethora of options in this situation. There are many bench players in the NBA, MLB and NFL who would gladly spend some of their off-season time on her reality show and jet-setting around the world. Speaking of Jets, I actually think that Ms. Kardashian might decide to ditch her second-string tendencies and sack up with Jets QB Mark Sanchez. Now he isn’t the best quarterback in the league when it comes to putting up stats, but he knows how to win (everything except AFC Championships). They can spend plenty of time in New York together when Kim and her sister tape yet another fantastic season of television with “Kourtney and Kim Take New York.” Maybe with a little encouragement, she can help get Mark Sanchez to a Super Bowl.
KB: Everyone knew that this marriage wouldn’t last, but 72 days was a bit of a shock. Knowing the Kardashians, Kim will be in the news very soon dating another athlete. The question is, who? She has gone from the super famous (Reggie Bush) to the unknown (Kris Humphries). My guess is the next guy will be kind of something in between. Enter Mark Sanchez. Why? He plays football and she is used to football players. Every guy has been younger, so that shows she likes younger men. The Jets are never out of the spotlight, so wherever the Jets are, be sure that she won’t be too far away from it at all. Plus, the Jets fans could have someone to blame if things go wrong for Sanchez at any point during the season. He also has money and is in the city of New York, which is another market for her to conquer.
AW: Kevin gets 3, because with Sanchize, Kim could broaden her media-whore horizons. Danny gets 2, because what makes for better TV than Kim on the sidelines cheering on Sanchez during a game? Peter gets 1 because Kim wouldn’t like getting a porn star’s sloppy seconds. Great answers all around, though.
Kevin wins this week’s AtD, 8-6-4.