Monday, August 9, 2010

U.S. Sports And London: Just Plain Dumb

The NBA announced today that the Nets and Raptors are going to play back to back home games in London this season, because the NBA needs to get on board with trying to woo London.  The NFL has already tried to get the Brits on board with football, so why not try basketball too?

Because the idea is dumb.  England doesn't care about basketball, or football, or hockey.  If they did their leagues would be more successful (yeah, all three of those sports have English leagues).  And sure, the London Bowl does all right for ticket sales, but its a one game event.  Americans sell out when huge soccer teams come to the states, but if a English Premier League team was in the US, it would not survive.  Also, the NFL put teams in Europe for NFL Europa, and only Germany and Amsterdam cared a little bit.  The London team struggled to sell tickets so bad they moved multiple times, even around England.

The NHL having games in Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic makes a little more sense, as those countries have strong domestic leagues.  MLB putting games in Japan makes sense for the same reason.  Still, putting games that matter in other countries is insulting to the home fans.  They pay a lot of money for tickets, gas, parking and apparel throughout the year, only to get games taken away to build a bigger fan base.  I hope the Lions are never selected to play in London or anywhere.  The Mexico Bowl and the Japan Bowl were good ideas, since the games don't matter and people usually don't like going.  Put the Pro-Bowl in London, where fans could see the top players and the game could be marketed better than, "come see the Patriots play the Buccaneers."

The NBA is particularly stupid about Europe.  They want teams to play there in the league.  So, you'll give Seattle a team, then what?  A Euro division?  Where the teams play ridiculously long road or home schedules, then play each other?  What about in the playoffs?  How many days off can you give?  The NBA playoffs are already 3 months long.  It would be a mess.  And having players go to those teams would be rough.  If you're a 25 year old man, trying to get a huge deal and are offered big money in Barcelona or New York, who would you choose?

The NFL should really look into expanding (or relocating) to Los Angeles before Europe, or Canada.  Or they shouldn't do anything, as they make record money every year without those venues. 

Bottom line, Stern and Goodell need to wise up and stop taking games from American fans.  They can make plenty of money here, without any risk of loss.  How many times do teams need to go over there before people realize football or basketball won't ever be big enough to take a chunk out of soccer and that more money should be spent here to build the sport domestically, where it should be built.

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