The Which Lockout Hurts More Debate Verdict

January 20, 2011

Read the opposing arguments from Optimist Prime and Bleacher Fan.

Bleacher Fan stated it best with the opening statement of his argument. He indicated that 2011 has the potential to be a LOUSY year for sports. Can you really imagine a Fall and Winter without the NBA and NFL? I’d rather have an American Idol with Simon Cowell (wait, that’s happened!) It’s possible, folks. We could be miserable this Fall and forced to watch brand new episodes of Jersey Shore with our significant others and have to hear the word “Snookie” over and over. We might not recover!

But for this debate, I asked my colleagues to debate which league – the NBA or the NFL – would have a harder time coming back from a lockout.

First, let’s take a look at Bleacher Fan’s argument. He writes that the NBA would have a harder time to recover. As I stated in my intro, it’s been a pretty special year for the NBA, minus all the Carmelo Anthony trade speculation. Ratings are up. Interest is up (thanks, Lebron). Attendance is up. But Bleacher Fan took an interesting angle. Instead of focusing on the negatives on the NBA, he chose to focus on the strength of the NFL. Obviously, the numbers back up the fact that the stronger league is the NFL. It took years of momentum to establish that fact, too.

Meanwhile, Optimist Prime believes in the theory of “the bigger they are, the harder they fall.” I felt like this was a unique and distinctive way to approach his side. There’s no sense of tackling the T-Rex that is the NFL when it comes to popularity. However, using an analogy that I had not thought of put everything in a different light. CART and NASCAR used to run neck in neck in the auto racing world in terms of recognition many years ago. The billion-dollar industry that NASCAR has become was no such thing. There was no SPEED channel. NASCAR went one way. CART went the other way, like Optimist Prime wrote. Remember the strike of 1994 in Major League Baseball? I know people that still hold a grudge towards baseball because, “That strike was nothing but greedy players wanting more money.”

Yet I’m not convinced though that the NBA can recover more quickly than the NFL. Nothing Optimist Prime wrote convinced me to dispute anything Bleacher Fan wrote, so I am siding with Bleacher Fan.

In my opinion, the NBA has been trying for years to recover from the retirement of Michael Jordan. A Shaquille O’Neal-Kobe Bryant three-peat tried to bring those casual fans back to the game, but even that leveled off. Maybe this is the year interest picks back up to those levels. Meanwhile, the NFL’s interest keeps growing to the point that we could break even more records this Sunday (we seemingly say this every playoff weekend now). The NFL has built itself such a cushion that no matter how far it does fall, I think it can recover.

If Lois Lane falls off a 100 foot building, and Superman catches her before she hits the ground, then she can recover. Sure, she’ll be a little panicked, but at least she’ll live to write about the story in the Daily Planet. That’s the same situation here. If there is a lockout, some fans will be bitter. But if the NFLPA and the owners reach an agreement before too much damage is done (and surely they will), then the damage can be repaired, and the fans will slowly come back. It’s football! What else are we going to do in the Fall?

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The Which Lockout Hurts More Debate

January 19, 2011

Read the opposing arguments from Optimist Prime and Bleacher Fan.

As we enter the end of yet another NFL season we begin to soak in the possibility that, unfortunately, a lockout may be forthcoming.

That day is quickly forthcoming in March. If you’ve watched any sports recently you know this, but more importantly, if you’ve read our debates you know this because we’ve been frowning upon the possibility of it for months. The players and the owners are squabbling over various issues including the owners wanting an eighteen game schedule and a rookie pay scale, which we touched on in a debate earlier this week. This would be disappointing on many levels, especially with the NFL playoffs again drawing record ratings, and is poised to do so again this weekend with two highly anticipated matchups.

Somewhat quietly on the horizon is the possibility of an NBA lockout. The current agreement expires at the end of the regular season, and I don’t know if it could happen at a worse time. The league has worked so hard to overcome the Michael Jordan shadow. Sfter some 12 years I think the league has finally made some progress. Interest and awareness in the league is up and ratings are up double digits from a year ago. Obviously, the guys in Miami have a big part in that, but it never hurts to have a good team in big markets like Los Angeles, Boston, and even a resurgent Knicks team in New York City. Not to mention buzz worthy up and coming players like Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose have captivated fans across the nations. The NBA has buzz, people! But a looming lockout seriously threatens that.

Herein lies today’s debate. With both leagues currently enjoying lots of notoriety, which one would have a more difficult recovery?

Look at it from all angles, arguers. Optimist Prime will argue that the NFL would struggle more while Bleacher Fan will argue that the NBA would have a more difficult recovery.

Let’s hope neither sport gets put into that position… but for the sake of this debate, you’re locked out!

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The Risky Draft Declaration Debate Verdict

January 18, 2011

Read the opposing arguments from Loyal Homer and Bleacher Fan.

I charged our esteemed writers with the task of writing an argument for a college underclassman turning professional in an uncertain NFL climate. With a possible lockout occurring in 2011, is it really wise for a college player – who does have remaining eligibility – to make a jump to the pros?

The topic is all too relevant as we enter the final weeks of the NFL season. It was not that long ago – November of 2010 – that NFLPA officials went on the record with the certainty of the NFL lockout. There is plenty of smoke surrounding the idea that we will not have an NFL season in 2011.

It is fair and proper for a college junior to sit down and contemplate the enormity of this decision. Bleacher Fan and Loyal Homer made things difficult for any junior squarely on the fence with equally compelling arguments.

Loyal Homer crafted an argument carefully centered on the virtues of making gobs and gobs of money. He rightly pointed out that a rookie pay scale will likely be a part of the league structure when it does resurface should a strike take place, so the 2011 draft is the final opportunity for players to get unrestricted amounts of money. Loyal Homer also points out the value of getting money before possible injury disrupts a player’s ability to haul in a big payday.

The only problem with those two arguments is that the money for players picked outside the top 10 likely will not be vastly different between 2011 and 2012. Further, Sam Bradford and others have now proven that getting injured during a final college season after passing up on the NFL draft is not a draft stock killer.

Bleacher Fan convinced me beyond the shadow of a doubt that that injuries don’t matter, and extra playing time does. Rookies struggle to get reps in the pros right after they are drafted unless they are in the top 20-30 overall picks. Those reps are invaluable opportunities for experience, and with uncertainty surrounding the notion of securing professional reps in 2011, securing SOME reps is the smarter course of action.

Each college kids’ situation is different. There are some that come from really destitute family situations where the money would be life changing, not just for the player but for the whole of his extended family. There is no 100 percent right or wrong answer. But for kids on the fringe that are likely not top 10 picks (which, by the way, is the VAST majority of players), the money will likely not be that different in 2011 compared to 2012 – even with a rookie pay scale. So if the money is equal, then what is the most valuable factor in making this decision?

That factor is consistent playing time to gain experience and reduce the size of the learning curve between the college and professional game. A kid that thinks they can take the paycheck from a high draft pick, and then just sit and not get game experience or game action for a year – and then adjust to the pro game a year after NO playing time – is fooling themselves.

Not a perfect apples to apples example, but years ago Mike Williams – a standout receiver from Southern Cal… along with Ohio State’s infamous Maurice Clarrett – challenged the rules of early entry into the NFL draft. They lost, and were forced to sit out of football for a year. Neither player – when they finally reached the pros – was worth anything because of the amount of time they were away from the game, regular body maintenance, and general organized focus on their craft. Being around a college program for another year is far better than nothing, and they will have longer pro careers for making the investment in college now.

Oh, and they’ll have a college degree, too. Nothing wrong with that.

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The Risky Draft Declaration Debate

January 17, 2011

Read the opposing arguments from Loyal Homer and Bleacher Fan.

It is an understandably perplexing decision to make.

Put yourself in the following sticky scenario:

A few weeks ago you were a junior in college and a somewhat known amateur athlete. (The “somewhat” is appropriate only because you are on ESPN every so often with an occasional highlight.) You are a student, having to maintain a class load, attend mandatory study halls, and keep passing grades. Not to mention the huge commitment of volunteer time to perfect the craft of playing college football. You are a year away from your degree, happy, but less content that you used to be because you now have an eye toward the post-college “real world” and are struggling to define what that means.<br.

Then your bowl game comes, and as the final seconds tick off the clock you begin to be accosted by a variety of agents and others promising you big bucks if you make the decision to forgo the final year of your college education to enlist in the NFL draft.

It is a decision faced annually by a number of talented college football underclassman. Except this year is different. While the list of accomplished early entries into the NFL draft grows, so too does speculation NFL owners will lock players out from work in an attempt to leverage themselves into a better negotiating position for a necessary replacement to the expiring collective bargaining agreement.

Today’s debate asks our writers to make the decision about what to do – Should college underclassman jump to the pros (assuming they have an active league to jump to), or stay in school for another year to complete their degree… entering a more certain professional world in a year?

Loyal Homer will argue that it is too risky to jump to the pros this season, while Bleacher Fan argues the time is right.

Writers, explain your arguments thoroughly. Readers, put yourselves in the shoes of the players when reading this debate. That’s what I’ll be doing when I render judgment tomorrow.

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