Breaking news: people care more about the NFL than the NBA. Shocking! It shouldn’t take a degree to figure that one out. The numbers don’t lie either. Yahoo! Search recently helped us out anyways by tracking lockout search results. The NFL lockout last 136 days; the NBA is on day 124. Despite that, Yahoo! Search reports that NFL lockout has received twice as many searches as NBA lockout on Yahoo! In fact, on every big milestone day, the NFL has mattered more than the NBA: day one of the lockout (the NFL lockout received 19 percent more Yahoo! searches), day 50 (the NFL lockout received 113 percent more Yahoo! searches) and day 100 (the NFL lockout received seven percent more Yahoo! searches). They also report that men make up 80 percent of all searches on Yahoo! involving the lockouts, but you probably knew that already.
The numbers don’t do anything but further quantify that the American public at large cares more about spending their Sundays chained to CBS, NBC and Fox than they do their Thursday nights to TNT. Of course, the whole perception that nobody cares about the NBA and it’s lockout is absurd and flat-out wrong. I don’t need to get into all that – Zach Lowe from SI.com did it so perfectly. Still, that doesn’t change football’s place at our cultural apex.
But why is football so loved here? To me, basketball has always felt like the most popular sport – or at least the one most widely played – among the current American generation. Think about it: what person didn’t play basketball growing up, doesn’t play basketball now or doesn’t shoot around once in a while? Not everyone plays soccer. Not everyone plays football. Not everyone plays baseball. Basketball could be the closest thing to universal in the American athletic culture.
It’s not star power either that drives everyone to the NFL. Outside of a few quarterbacks and maybe players like Ray Lewis, Chad Ochocinco or Adrian Peterson, the NBA clearly has the bigger personalities and stars. When they play, we see their faces. We feel their pain, their frustration. We feel like we know them, for better or worse. Compared to NFL players and their helmets, face masks and uniforms, it’s almost like basketball players are naked. While basketball promotes expression, creativity and individuality, the NFL breeds conformity.
Football was always the beast, the bully, the kingpin. Is it the 16 vs. 82 factor? Less games equates more importance which equates higher intensity which equates more interest. Is it the Sunday factor? No work. The day of rest. Pizza. Wings. Beer. Throw the feet up and chill. It’s probably a little of all of that. Plus, Americans also love violence, teamwork and visible intensity, and the NFL has all of that in abundance.
Sunday football has always been ingrained in our culture. Is there any way the NBA could ever get to that level?
Why does the general public care more about the NFL than the NBA? Is there any way to close the gap?
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