On Christmas Day, the NBA is kicking off a shortened, 66-game regular season for 2011-12. With the expiration of the league’s collective bargaining agreement on June 30 and the ensuing lockout that lasted until December 8, this was almost “the season that wasn’t.” The work stoppage saw the cancellation of the original schedule of training camps, preseason games, and regular season match-ups through December 24.
I did not closely follow the labor dispute. I occasionally heard news coverage with quotes from NBA Commissioner David Stern, National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter, and Lakers guard Derek Fisher who serves as the president of the NBPA. While I was not well-versed on the specifics, I knew that the bottom line disagreement between the team owners and the players was about money. It’s always about money: “Who gets what number of slices of the multi-billion dollar NBA pie?”
The thought hit me during the lockout that I should organize a fan boycott that would keep fans away from the arenas for the same number of games that were lost during the labor dispute. Don’t attend any games. Don’t buy any jerseys, caps, sweatshirts, or other team merchandise. Where did the fans figure into the negotiations? Who represented the season ticket holders, the “family night” attenders, and those who never miss a game on TV. As the owners and players arm-wrestled over percentages of Basketball Related Income, did they stop to consider where BRI comes from? I thought it would be a good idea to remind them.
But, alas, I am no activist. I don’t even have a Twitter account, an absolute necessity these days if one is going to lead any kind of successful social revolution.
In reality, a fan boycott would have had a negligible impact on the “bigs” of the league. Only the little guys would have just continued to suffer, the vendors, concession workers, security personnel, and area restaurants that depend heavily on game day customers.
A boycott would have been an epic failure, primarily because of fans like me. Despite my disgust with the corporate greed of NBA executives and the incessant whining of obsenely compensated athletes, when the whistle blows on December 25, I’ll be sitting there like some Pavlovian dog in front of the television. My family and I will be faithfully tuned in at 1:30 CST on Christmas Day, watching the Mavericks raise their first championship banner and urging Nowitzki to “Dirk the Halls” on the Miami Heat.
If only I were an activist…