Over the weekend David Aldridge wrote an article about NBA All Star weekend and how it was like a “Black Thanksgiving” because of how popular the sport and the weekend is with African Americans.
Being that we live in a hyper sensitive society, as you would assume and probably already know, Aldridge’s article rubbed some people the wrong way.
I have to admit that I completely agreed with everything Aldridge wrote in his article.
The day before he wrote the article I tweeted that NBA All Star weekend was equivalent to MLK Day, Juneteenth and Kappa Beach Party weekend rolled into one, with the best part being that it’s held over the weekend so black people don’t have to call in sick IF they do work.
Yeah I know I aint right for saying that and the above sentence was a run on but you know what I just said is true to a certain extent.
That being said, All Star weekend and Aldridge’s article has once again resurrected a ten to fifteen year old question of “Why does it seem that white people are no longer interested in the NBA as they once were before?”
I have my own theory as to why since the day Jordan, Bird and Magic retired, the average NBA fan who for the most part used to be the middle aged white guy/woman, is somewhat of a dying breed.
This situation that the league is dealing with has not only affected single game and season ticket sales. But also corporate season ticket sales which is where NBA teams really make their money.
Like most people who are aware of this issue, Buzz Bissinger of The Daily Beast has taken the time to write an article as to why he thinks the NBA has lost “white fans.”
The article is a very long, compelling article that is very much in line with my theory as to why I too think the NBA no longer appeals to white people 40 and older.
Buzz Bissinger of the Daily Beast – NBA All Star Game: White Men Can’t Root:
I am not a basketball junkie and I have no desire to be one. There are maybe three players I would pay to watch. The first is LeBron James of the Miami Heat, because whatever you think, and I think a lot less after his free-agency melodrama despite writing a book with him, he is the best athlete in the world today. The second is Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, and the third is Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
A major problem with the NBA, one that is virtually never spoken about honestly, is the issue of race. I have no hard-core evidence. But based on my past experience in writing about sports, I know that whites ascribe very different characteristics to black athletes than they do white ones. I also make a habit of asking every white sports fan I know whether they watch the NBA.
In virtually every instance, they say they once watched the game but no longer do. When I ask them if it has anything to do with the racial composition, they do their best to look indignant. But my guess is they felt very differently about the game when Larry Bird and John Stockton were playing.
The one white American player today who comes the closest to being a star is Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves. He is averaging 21 points a game and 15 rebounds. He is on the West roster in the All-Star Game. Do you know anyone who would pay to see Love play?
It boils down to this: Are whites losing interest in a game in which the number of white American players not only continues to dwindle, but no longer features a superstar?
It has to do with racial stereotyping. Those stereotypes are wrong. They are malicious. But to act is if they do not exist is disingenuous.
When I wrote the book Friday Night Lights about high-school football in Texas, I saw the racial stereotypes of some whites up close—their firm belief that white athletes admirably succeeded because of hustle and hard work and brains, and black athletes succeeded solely on the basis of pure athletic skill. In other words, white athletes virtuously worked their tails off whereas black athletes simply coasted because they can.
Twenty years later, I think those beliefs still persist nationwide. I think it’s why you hear more than you should how players in the NBA don’t ever look as if they are trying and yes, one of those who has said that is me. Lack of effort is what whites still assume of black athletes in basketball—they don’t have sufficient desire, their body language during timeouts connotes boredom, they are always looking in the stands for the next concubine, they just don’t have that blue-collar work ethic that makes great white athletes great. Add in the absence of a single white American superstar (Steve Nash is Canadian), and it alienates whites even more.
The National Football League is majority African American. Since the game is predicated on brute strength that is impossible to fake, there is rarely any grumbling that African-American athletes are not trying hard enough. And the marquee position—quarterback—is still the domain of whites. The greatest superstars of the game—Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and now Aaron Rodgers—are all white, and it gives white fans a greater sense of identification.
You can find the rest of the two page article here. Buzz Bissinger
However I feel that if race isn’t the reason as to why white fans are ignoring the NBA. Then it’s because most if not all middle aged white fans can no longer relate to and/or respect any of the current NBA players the way they somewhat could with Magic, Bird and Jordan.
Mainly because players of today are not like players back in the day, and due to all of the “extra/negative stuff and/or drama” that players are involved in these days.
Some would say that the NBA does have clean cut players that aren’t in the news for the wrong reasons that middle aged white people can relate to or want their kids to look up to. Players such as Tim Duncan, Dwayne Wade, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Deron Williams to name a few.
However none of these guys that I just mentioned play for “marquee” teams and as we all know, in the NBA it’s all about the marquee teams and the players on them. And unfortunately because of the “extra/negative stuff and/or drama” that other marquee players get into, it has given the league a bad rep. Every player is presumed to be guilty of being all alike.
Hmmmm, where else in life have we heard of black men being profiled as all being bad? Sounds like everyday life huh?
In addition to all of that, I also feel that the Hip Hop/black culture the NBA has embraced has turned a lot of middle aged white fans off.
The hip hop culture is something that the younger white crowd gravitates towards not the older.
Yeah David Stern implemented a dress code to insure that the players don’t show up to the stadium looking “thugged out.” But it seems as if that wasn’t enough.
Will this issue ever correct itself? Maybe, but for now I don’t see it happening unless the NBA gets a few more clean cut superstars in marquee cities that fans can relate to or the NBA finally gets its “Great White Hope.”
Until then, it is what it is and this issue will continue to grow.
- David Johnson