Read It and Weep, NBA
Hockey fans everywhere owe something of a debt of gratitude to Peter Nussbaum, one of the three friends behind the NBA blog Supersonics Soul. Last Friday, Nussbaum managed to kick up a whole lot of dust when he posted a very simple graph that compared average attendance numbers from the NBA and the NHL over the past few years. As you can see above, the NBA has experienced something of a precipitous drop over the past few years.
So why do I say that hockey fans owe Nussbaum a debt of gratitude? Because after years of seeing hockey get bashed in the media, we're finally seeing some evidence come to light that all the folks who are so desperate to turn a shovel of dirt on the sport we love might very well have overlooked some numbers that prove that it's actually their favorite sport that's experiencing some difficulties.
Reading the comments over at Supersonic Soul are pretty instructive. There are all sorts of folks accusing Nussbaum of attacking the league simply because his team, the Sonics, were moved lock, stock and barrel to Oklahoma City. There are others who have repeated over and over again that he didn't reference any source material, even though he's repeated over and over again that his numbers come directly from ESPN (click here and here). Still, the trend is as clear as day: something has happened to the NBA fan base and it happened well in advance of the current economic distress the nation and the world are experiencing.
Is the NHL without its own problems? Of course not. Then again, it's impossible not to notice that when it comes to all of the major media markets in the U.S., hockey is clearly ascendant. Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Chicago are all packed with talent, while Los Angeles has a young roster that's poised to make a run for the playoffs. Put it all together, and it points to a nice upswing for the NHL.
I can't help but enjoy seeing the hoops crowd on the hot seat for once. Enjoy the spotlight; here's hoping you don't melt.
(HT: Puck Daddy)