Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Law of Unintended Consequences

Because of what I do for a living (Chippendale dancer; great dental plan) I have always associated the NBA Finals with a happy time of year. And while I’m a massive football fan, my memories of the Super Bowl are always steeped in dark and cold and dreary winter. I don’t follow baseball and don’t know who the reigning World Series champ is, but any event that means the end of the MLB season is fine by me. I get depressed just knowing that baseball’s going on, and it’s not easy to depress me during summer. But my question for every major sport commissioner is this: Is the goal of your office to make sure that nine-to-five guy CANNOT watch your game’s culminating event and/or series?

Let’s look at the NBA Finals, a great matchup between the polarizing LeBron James and the fundamental machine the San Antonio Spurs. I'd love to “chillax” in the "chill zone" and watch every second of this slugfest, but of course, I can’t. Game 1 from San Antonio had a 9.15PM EST tip last Thursday night. LeBron wasn’t carried off the court in a muscle-cramped heap till almost midnight, so I heard. (Seriously, anyone making fun of LeBron for that or labeling him weak, get a clue.) With Game 1 on Thurs and no travel day for either team, Game 2 would obviously be on Saturday night, right? Nope. Inexplicably, the series resumes on a Sunday night; tip 8.35PM EST. Okay, NBA, you win, I won’t watch, even though I really want to, so you and the 7,000 State Farm commercials that will run on TV timeouts will miss me. (Jesus lady, it’s Larry from State Farm. How many times does that husband have to say that same thing to you at 2AM? Yes, he’s wearing khakis, get over it.) Let’s take a look at the rest of the impossible-to-watch Finals schedule:

Game 1 - Thu, June 5, Miami at San Antonio, 9 p.m. ET, ABC
Game 2 - Sun, June 8, Miami at San Antonio, 8 p.m. ET, ABC
Game 3 - Tue, June 10, San Antonio at Miami, 9 p.m. ET, ABC
Game 4 - Thu, June 12, San Antonio at Miami, 9 p.m. ET, ABC
Game 5 * Sun, June 15, Miami at San Antonio, 8 p.m. ET, ABC
Game 6 * Tue, June 17, San Antonio at Miami, 9 p.m. ET, ABC
Game 7 * Fri, June 20, Miami at San Antonio, 9 p.m. ET, ABC

Okay, if it goes to Game 7, I get to see beyond halftime once. Maybe I should just stay up later. No way. I'm the Dos Equis man's long-lost son: the Most Boring Man in the World. I'm not staying up till midnight on a Tuesday.

It’s the same thing with MLB Baseball. Every World Series game throws its first pitch around 9PM EST, and baseball is like watching paint dry, except slower, so you’d have to stay awake till tomorrow at breakfast time to see the whole show if it hits extra innings. And once you get through the thirteen renditions of “America the Beautiful” the six Armed Forces tributes, the eighteen minute coin toss starring Joe Willie Namath, and the thirty-third look at the hardscrabble story of some wide receiver in the big game, and finally, mercifully start the NFL’s Super Bowl, it’s near 7PM EST. Then we have to suffer through a forty-minute Fergie-licious Halftime Performance (maybe she’ll give us another epic cover of G N’ R’s “Sweet Child ‘O Mine.” That was as good as it gets) and a third qtr. played in pyrotechnic after-smoke to finish the football season off by midnight. “Expanded playoffs!? Expanded playoffs!?” I ask in my best Jim Mora intonation. The NFL is the Roman Empire of professional sports. The mighty fall is forthcoming

We really can’t play the Super Bowl on a Saturday night? Trust me: we’ll still watch the Big Game and all the ESPN nonsense afterwards if it’s not on Sunday. That would be so much fun. “But, Brian, that’s not the tradition of the game.” Ugh, tradition. I want to actually be able to watch the game without thinking about my 5.25AM alarm clock and afternoon dept. meeting.

I understand that the later starts on the east coast are to ensure that the west coast is into primetime as well, I get that. And I wouldn’t mind the later starts if they could sometimes happen on days where I can take the entire event in, regardless of time. If these major leagues insist on Tues/Thurs/Sun game nights for their championships, then I must remind Madison Ave. that Madison Ave. is on the east coast, along with 80% of the country’s population. Sorry, San Diego Guy, New York is the center of the Universe, and that should mean we get everything on our timetable. Perhaps that’s ethnocentric of me. So be it.

How bad has this problem in scheduling gotten? I was reduced to watching the NHL Stanley Cup game last night, and actually getting into it. There is something called the Law of Unintended Consequences, and if the NBA insists on this inaccessible TV deal then I might just become a hockey fan. The Rangers/Kings game was great last night. Everyone I was watching with said the same thing, "I’m not a hockey fan but this is fun." When I watch football and basketball I can pick apart everything that’s happening and why. I can narrate the whole show from a lifetime of watching, but I don’t know a hockey puck from a hamburger, and that’s kind of liberating. It went to 2OT and the Kings won, and I was thinking: Thank God it’s not Sunday night. I would’ve been in bed two hours ago.

Brian Huba

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