Monday, October 27, 2014

The Short Game


The other night, the Boston Celtics played a 44-minute exhibition game against the Brooklyn Nets. Since NBA games are usually 48 minutes in length, this was puzzling. Why did they do that? Apparently, the folks in charge of professional basketball feel the younger generation are being lost because they don't have the attention span for longer games. They're thinking of shortening the games in an effort to lure more fans.

It's Marketing 101 to give people more as an enticement, not less. Whichever business school graduated the genius behind this harebrained idea should be stripped of its certification immediately. Take this ploy to a logical conclusion and you'd have to believe that customers will give you the most money when you deliver no product at all.

(Well, OK, that's often true in government, so maybe it's possible in sports.)

I'm amazed at the so-called fans of a sport who will defend shorter games. Quite a few supposed baseball fans have been decrying the length of baseball games. They keep advocating ways to speed up and shorten the game. I look at those folks the same way I'd look at a person who professes love for someone but then says he wishes he didn't have to spend so much damn time with her.

I know some younger fans of baseball will find this hard to believe, but there used to be these things called “doubleheaders”. Not just two games in one day; they still have those occasionally, played one in daylight and one at night, separate admissions for both. What I'm talking about is two games in one day, played back-to-back and requiring only ONE admission. It was the best bargain in sport. You got to spend 7 or 8 hours at the ballpark for the same price as one game on any other day. It wasn't a travail. It wasn't something to be endured. It wasn't a whole bunch of people in a hurry constantly looking at their watches and moaning about how long it was taking while they fretted about missing the next thing they wanted to do. It was a ballpark, often full of kids – that is, future fans - who appreciated a bargain.

If you find that hard to believe, try this on for size. The Celtics used to offer their fans basketball doubleheaders. It wasn't the Celts playing two games in a row – basketball is a bit too strenuous for that – but there would be a game, before the home team played, involving either two other NBA teams or the Harlem Globetrotters and their Washington Generals patsies.

And now they're offering not two games, but one shorter game in an attempt to build their fan base. If it works, I expect we'll someday see PGA golf tournaments on putt-putt courses, hockey games where first goal wins, and soccer games consisting only of a tie-breaking shootout. I do believe, though, that there's one area where this idea of shortening things to make them more valuable might work: political campaigns. Can we get the NBA marketing team to work on that?

Soon, with more better stuff.


18 comments:

joeh said...

This attention span thing is a problem with a generation that has been raised on i-stuff and multi-tasking.

There is talk of making larger holes in golf to speed up the game...don't even get me started.

You are dead on about the political campaigns.

The Broad said...

Well if the name of the 'shorter' game is to be able to pack more into a day, it seems to me that it's going to be a shorter life span as well...

Brighton Pensioner said...

I wonder what those guys would say about cricket? The county matches last for four days and test matches (internationals) for five!

sandyland said...

Oddly enough at the ripe young 70 's age, I can still see the black and white Cousy days !!very clearly

Shammickite said...

Four minutes makes a difference? What do I know, I only ever went to one Raptors game, and I had no idea what was going on.

Suldog said...

Joe - Really? Bigger holes? I thought what I spoke about was the ultimate in sports lunacy. Sheesh.

Broad - Isn't that the truth? Slowing down and enjoying life as it happens, rather than constantly looking for the next thrill that you won't slow down and enjoy, is very much the prescription for a longer and more enjoyable time here.

Pensioner - I've always thought I'd really enjoy living in a land that was into cricket. It has some similarity to baseball and I would have loved to try my hand at it when I was younger.

Sandy - The younger generation, for the most part, has no clue concerning anything extending back beyond Michael Jordan. I once tried to explain the impact Cousy had on the game to a group of my classmates at broadcasting school (I was about ten years older than everyone else in the school because I was a huge slacker when I was their age.) It was an impossible task, especially since there is so little footage of him during his heyday.

Suldog said...

Shammickite - Yeah, I mean, if you're going to do it, why not do it in a way that will be truly noticeable? Shaving a minute off of each quarter won't get the short-attention-span folk and it will only serve to piss off the true fans. Now, if they really wanted to speed things up, they'd cut the available time-outs for each coach to half what they now are. That won't happen, of course, because that's where the commercial breaks happen.

Buck said...

I do believe, though, that there's one area where this idea of shortening things to make them more valuable might work: political campaigns. Can we get the NBA marketing team to work on that?

Boy, do I ever second THAT!

messymimi said...

Yes, please shorten the political "season" and everything involved with it! Leave the real games alone.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of paying attention:

The WHAT Nets ?????

Suldog said...

Anonymous - OMG. Great catch! I'm changing it right now. Thanks!

Should Fish More said...

Not that I've ever watched one, but What about limiting a NASCAR race to one lap?
Baseball is the only pro sport I'll still watch, love the deliberate pace of the game, the rituals, Ichiro holding his bat straight out before getting his stance.

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip, said...

Just think of how many comebacks would fall short if the game was shortened.

I am so tired of political campaigns...
...if any of the folks running for any of the offices was applying directly to me for employment, I'd boot them out of my office.

Craig said...

Hmmmmm. . . We have a minor-league baseball team here in Our Town, and they have honest-to-goodness old-style, two-games-for-the-price-of-one doubleheaders, mostly to make up rainouts. But they're not paying millionaires, either. The doubleheaders, tho, are both seven-inning games, not the full nine like the regular single games.

Shortening the games seems like a bad idea, but I've thought that the impulse to lengthen seasons is fundamentally misbegotten. Baseball should not be played in sub-freezing temperatures, such as frequently occur after dark in northern cities like Detroit and Boston, in late October (or the first two weeks of April, for that matter). Hockey should not be played in places/times where ice is not naturally occurring (June in Tampa? Uh, no. . .) And more NFL games is more likely to mean more opportunities for the players you really want to see to get injured, than it is to produce a better product on the field. And I can't help thinking that the 82-game NBA season results in too many nights where one team or the other is just plain gassed, or unfocused, or otherwise not at their best.

But that's just me; your results may vary. . .

I would favor lengthening the political process for one reason only - if it meant that I could get lower gas prices for even longer in the run-up to the election. But, on the whole, any political campaigning more than a month before the election is a waste, and ought to be illegal. . .

RockTheWrinkle.com said...

I miss doubleheaders!!
I miss day baseball games!!
Thanks for taking this 50+ brain back to the ballpark for just a bit.......

Suldog said...

All - Thanks for the nice comments. I always read every one, and I always appreciate the time taken to write them (even if I just give a generic nod to your friendliness, rather than a direct answer.)

Craig - You have me wrong, my friend. I'm all for the seasons being what they used to be; that is, each sport during the right time of year, few overlaps, and a playoff schedule that makes it a special thing to make the playoffs instead of something that might be expected as the norm in some cities. I absolutely HATE that the World Series is played at night and three weeks later than it once was. Baseball should be played in the day in October (EARLY October.)

Craig said...

Oh, I don't suppose that I have YOU wrong, Jim. I was just venting on a tangential topic on my own behalf. . . You are, as always, the paragon of sporting wisdom. Sorry for any confusion. . .

;)

Pearl said...

Well I think you hit on it in your post: too many people needing to fit as much as they can into any given day.

Personally, I think that idea's been sold to us by our corporate overlords, but that may just be a problem I have. :-) Do more, do it faster, do it now... Sigh.

Pearl