Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

All Star Weekend

February 13, 2009

It is actually “All-Star Season” since we have had the Pro Bowl, NHL All-Star game, and now the NBA All-Star weekend in the last month.  I thought it’d be fun to rank each of the four and talk a bit about this weekend’s gathering of the best players in the NBA.I don’t have a lot to add that hasn’t already been said, but like the All-Star festivities this post is all about having fun.

I have never watched more than a few minutes of the Pro Bowl. It is boring football, and the sport doesn’t lend itself to compelling flashy displays.  The MLB All-Star game is somewhat better, but I don’t like the shoehorned World Series home field advantage business.  I do, however, greatly enjoy both the NHL and NBA events.  There have been some fun moments at the NHL All-Star game, and as a kid I loved the skills competition. One of my most vivid hockey memories is Owen Nolan calling his shot before scoring the game winning goal in San Jose.  This year in Montreal we were treated to lots of scoring, a hilarious overtime penalty and even a shootout.

I’m especially looking forward to H.O.R.S.E. this weekend, butthe other events all have their merits.  I think out of all the sports basketball lends itself to this type of display. I think they should have Don Nelson and Mike D’Antoni coach the teams every year and insist that they run a high tempo no defence strategy all game long (this already basically happens).  Most fans of the game enjoy high flying plays. It also helps that if the game is close near the end the players instinctive competitiveness takes over year after year, leading to some decent 4th quarters.

I wonder about the purpose of having All-Star games. The leagues would tell you that they are a great opportunity to showcase the sort to fans and sponsor, and to create a major event around the league (this isn’t as true for the NFL’s Pro Bowl but they are trying to make that happen).  Although many older players now skip the All-Star game for various reasons, it is still a thrill or insult for those who are selected or snubbed.  Fans do watch these events but many seem to complain about the lack of quality play and some seem to remember a fictional time when these games were good.

But what is the real point of taking a group of the best players (a highly subjective and flawed exercise) and having them play a meaningless game in the middle of the season, or in the case of the new NFL plan in the playoffs?  The Olympics showed us that teams filled with high caliber NBA players can create some entertaining matchups like the Gold Medal game between Spain and USA.  That game, however, was for a tangible and highly desireable prize.  We can never expect players to play their hardest for absolutely nothing, especially when their financial future depends on them staying healthy.  Wouldn’t actual games be of more value?  Each league wants to showcase its stars for marketing purposes, and the teams certainly benefit from that.

One idea I have is to replace the mid season All-Star competition with some kind of cup like tournament involving each teams best players.  This won’t work for football or baseball really, but hockey and especially basketball. Can you imagine a 3-on-3 tournament involving the top 4 players from each NBA team.  Condense it down to single elimination over a few days, and you’ve got a mini March Madness for the pros. The games would have to be shorter than a regular NBA game, but they could fit into 45-60 minute blocks.  Award an actual trophy like the Cups they have in soccer so there is an actual point to all of it.  The risk of failure and the possibility for recognizable success should help encourage the players to play harder.  By including 4 players from each team no one will feel cheated out of a spot.  Let one city host the whole thing to maintain the event atmosphere of the All-Star weekend.  You could also give all the players a couple of days after the event for rest and mini vacations, which will hopefully limit the number of no shows.

Will this fix all of the issues with the All-Star game? Probably not, but it would make a compelling event.


Regional Sports Continued

February 12, 2009

This is a follow up to a post on my other blog.  As I see it my idea of a semi pro/amateur regional basketball (or other sport) league rests on a few key conclusions.  They are:

1. That people naturally enjoy live sporting events because of the excitement and passion that is created.

2. That people generally love the city they live in more than other nearby ones, if only because they are inherently competitive

3. That local talent is more sympathetic than talent from elsewhere.

4. That although the level of play would be below that of any professional league, the low price point would overcome the talent deficiency.

5. That talent could come from those high school players who couldn’t go to college or university, and players who had used up their eligibility or were done school.

6. That civic leaders would openly support the idea of community building.

7. That national sport organizations would like the potential for grass roots development through academies, tournaments and coaching opportunities.

8. That families could find affordable entertainment that their children can relate to.

9. That by limiting player expenses, travel costs, and partnering with local government running a franchise is feasible with minimal sponsorship.

10. That by utilizing alternative media and the internet the league can be highly accessible to its fan base.

11. That the owners are committed to growing the game and the community.

I don’t think these are unreasonable propositions. Many new sports leagues launch as national entities that hope to gain a portion of the market share of larger leagues. The vision behind this type of league is much narower and is focused on small growth in local areas in order to limit costs and to build familliarity betwen the players and the fans. It remains to be seen if people will come out to support such teams, but with the low cost approach fans can discover the league slowly without crippling the teams.

Brand New World

February 12, 2009

Some of you may know me as the man behind The Alder Fork Blog, Podcast, Band, and Projects. This is one of those projects.  I posted an entry on my other blog about my idea for regional sports leagues, and was picked up by truehoop on ESPN.  The response was overwhelming, so I decided to split off a sports only blog.  One hallmark of The Alder Fork Blog is the daily updates, and I can’t promise that I will write here as often.  I am very passionate about sports, having competitively played baseball, football, basketball and curling.  I read many of the major blogs and sites daily, and can usually be found watching some sporting event or other every day (even PBA bowlign replays on Monday afternoons).  I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to write about here, but I will make it entertaining and hopefully thought provoking.