I was watching Sports Center Wednesday afternoon (not willingly, it's always on in the breakroom), while we were waiting for news from the (seemingly) last negotiation to save the season. There was a little graphic in the corner of the screen declaring we were in the 130th-odd day of the lockout and it took me aback. It's hard to believe more than a third of an entire year has gone by with a half year just around the corner.
The NBA lockout is about to end, go the distance, or engage in one last round of white-knuckle negotiations. It's difficult to decide how to feel about all this, mostly because both sides have taken pains to obfustucate what's actively being negotiated on a day-to-day basis while spoon-feeding the media (and the fans, by extension) their own carefully scripted accounts.
Sure, we can expect this sort of internecine, faux-Machiavellian maneuvering with this much money at stake in the entertainment industry, but it doesn't make it any easier for the sincere fan to swallow.
As NBA fans we enjoy some of the most entertaining and accessible personalities in the public sphere. We get a substantive regular season, an extended playoff format, and the players aren't run to pieces before their time so we see the same faces more consistently than most competitive sports. The advent of social media has connected fans as a community more closely than ever before. It has been instructive to watch the NBA blogosphere assert its identity and make its presence felt in the highest lockout circles.
It has been more illuminating to watch the consequences of that presence, namely none. More than any other form of social media, the blogosphere represents the fans. Increasingly, it seems fans are viewed as 'Happy' or 'Not-Happy' and tossed bones accordingly. Attempts to piece together the goings-on in New York are ignored or derided. Of course, many if not most would argue that sensitive negotiations need privacy to see progress. I don't disagree.
Still, I wonder, whether things have concluded one way, or the other (as I'm writing before talks have wrapped up on Thursday), if both sides owed us more information, should have kept us in the know. Our own Ted Leonsis stated that professional sports franchises are a community trust. Movie fans typically have more impact and information on their points of interest than we do.
Apples and oranges, I know. Not enough information released about a movie, it doesn't get enough buzz, not enough people go see it. Those professional sports franchises have built-in loyalty, people who will go see it no matter what anyone says. So there is little pressure to disclose, to keep us in the know. We'll be back anyway.
In the end, it's like the owners said, 'There are certain things we have to have.' They'll have them, and we have no recourse. Our teams are being held hostage. The owners have failed to protect their community trust, but what are the consequences? None.