Posted by: Frank | June 11, 2008

The NHL Should Not Become The NBA

During this past hockey playoff season I have been thinking about why the NHL is not as popular as other professional sports: football, basketball, and baseball. If you think about it, hockey is the ultimate combination of all the other sports, it is the physicality of football, the athleticism of basketball, and the skill of baseball all combined in one sport. So, with so much going for it, why is it relegated to #4 in popularity amongst professional sports in the U.S.?

To look at this you have to divorce yourself from being a hockey fan and imagine you have no knowledge or history with the sport. You also have to start with the premise that sports fans watch sporting events to see amazing athletes compete and decide the outcome of the game. With this in mind I think are two problems non-hockey fans have with hockey: officiating has too much influence over the outcome of games and hockey glorifies violence.

Explaining my reasoning will take some time so to start, I want to point you to two articles. The first is William Rhoden’s article in the New York Times titled Time For the N.B.A. to Do Some Soul Searching. In the article Rhoden writes of how NBA commissioner David Stern is brushing off allegations from former NBA ref Tom Donaghy of the league fixing games. (Donaghy is charged with gambling on NBA games while being a ref.) The claims of the NBA influencing officiating to the benefit of stars and teams have existed for a long time. Next, read Officials Tipped Towards Pens’ Favor in Final by Tony Gallagher. My subtle point: while the NHL may admire the NBA’s marketing machine, it should be careful to not allow that marketing to change the field of competition. 

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