Strikes (or lockouts) in sports are a funny thing. Fans get up in arms, fingers are pointed in every direction, 30 billionaires try to convince us that they’re going broke while a few hundred millionaires try to convince us that they’re underpaid. Typically the owners give up a few things they don’t care about but win the things that they do since they’ll go to sleep on piles of money even if the entire league collapses, while the lower tier players quickly run out of the liquid capital needed to keep their pet lions eating organic unicorn steaks. Journalists submit the exact same articles that they submitted the last time this happened, just searching and replacing for the name of the league.
The fans are furious, but they’re just the customer so they don’t really matter. And fans don’t make up their minds until after it’s all over who was to blame. That blame is generally apportioned against the players depending on how many juicy quotes land in the media to the effect of backup punters complaining that now they’ll have to feed Chow Chow real dog food. The blame is aimed at the league as a whole in proportion to how much of a season is missed. But if the game comes back strong afterwards, all the fury can dissipate. So the NFL strikes of the eighties is long forgotten, baseball’s lost World Series faded with Sosa’s and McGwire’s swings.
The NBA announced today that at least the first two weeks of the 2011-2012 season will be cancelled, with David Stern saying that the players and owners are “very far apart on virtually all issues. … We just have a gulf that separates us.”
The odd thing is how muted the fan base is at the moment. But that might just be the normal indifference to November basketball.