You may have missed this in the Friday afternoon "please let this week be over" crunch, but it's not too late to read this important post over at Puck Daddy. Well, important if you care about the friendly rivalry between delusional NBA apologists and bitter NHL pedants. Believe it or not, there was actually a time when it looked like the NHL might surpass the NBA as America's favorite post-Super Bowl diversion—and it might have if it wasn't for that pesky financial collapse/missing season. That dream is still a long way off, but looking at the numbers suggests the two sports may be closer than you think. Attendance figures are always a shaky measure, but in cities where the two sports compete head-to-head, the franchises are surprisingly even. And overall, the trends have not been good for the NBA; while the NHL is slowly winning back fans who left after the lockout. But even more ominous for the NBA is something called the "Enthusiasm Gap." Reporters who follow the league are saying that even when the seats are filled, nobody gives a crap.
What surprises me more than anything, though, is the general lack of enthusiasm from some of the crowds. For the most part, the crowds I've seen at Magic games are flatter than a pancake. Sure, there are some exciting moments, and, if asked, the fans are usually willing to get out of their seats and cheer. But, if it wasn't for the noise blaring from the speaker system, you would be able to hear Stan Van Gundy barking out orders on almost every possession.Also, Stan Van Gundy can still find employment in the NBA, so that can't be good right? The NBA still dominates on TV (not hard) and in merchandise, but the future seems to be much brighter for puckheads than for whatever you call someone who loves pro basketball. Of course, there are also signs that franchises in both leagues may not survive the current economic "troubles." Could we soon see contraction? Bankruptcies? A NHL regular season game on network TV? Anything is possible, I suppose. NHL vs. NBA: Hockey winning in attendance, fan enthusiasm? [Puck Daddy] On the Hilarious Insecurity of Hockey Fans [Fanhouse]