The Difference in the Coverage of the NBA and NFL

Last week on his radio show, Fox Sports personality Colin Cowherd brought up a topic I thought was interesting enough to talk about here.

Cowherd was discussing the difference in how the NFL and NBA are covered on a day-to-day basis. His main point was the NFL coverage is primarily based on game coverage and analysis, while NBA coverage is typically based on side stories about players, their relationships with teammates and owners, etc.

After hearing that, I started to pay more attention to the two way each leagues were covered, and I’ve come to find that Cowherd is right.

Over the past two weeks, all NFL coverage was solely based on the Super Bowl. Sure, there were shenanigans in the weeks leading up, but it all came down to everyone talking about the actual game. Now, an argument could be made that, “Of course they’re only talking about the Super Bowl, it’s the biggest game of the year.” I agree, but this isn’t just an occurrence over the last two weeks. Coverage of the NFL during the entire regular season and postseason is game based. The first thing you hear about in the morning on the TV or radio is about the physical games that took place the day beforehand.

That isn’t the case with the NBA. Here’s two examples: Last week, the biggest headline was the “feud” taking place between LeBron James and Charles Barkley. Barkley said some words about James on TNT and James responded by attacking Barkley’s character. While it turned out to be an interesting story, it really had no relevance in the heat of the NBA season. One of the men involved hasn’t even played in the league in over 15 years. Yet, it led every morning sports talk show that week.

Even this week, the story making headlines was former player Charles Oakley being forcefully removed from a Knicks game. It wasn’t anything to do with the game, but rather what was taking place in the stands.

Oakley was removed from the game for unverified reasons, but it’s been long reported that he’s had a feud with the Knicks owner.

Once again, an interesting story, but I don’t think anyone led that story with the actual score of the Knicks-Clippers game it took place at.

The real question is what is the difference in the two leagues to cause this? Seems simple, honestly. At this point, unless a real upset happens in the NBA playoffs, we all expect to see another Warriors-Cavaliers matchup in the Finals. While it’s likely to be a wonderful matchup for the third straight year, it strips away relevance to the regular season.

In the NFL, we don’t have that problem. The same two teams both don’t make it back to the Super Bowl. It just doesn’t happen. I’m not trying to be the, “The NFL has the best parity ever” guy, but it’s not necessarily untrue. It’s extremely unlikely for a team to reach back-to-back Super Bowls, let alone win them. That helps make every weeks product worth watching. It’s downright exciting. Every game matters because odds are every team that has playoffs hopes has some real chance of making it all the way.

The NBA doesn’t have that luxury, and I’m not sure it’s a fixable situation.

I don’t really have an answer to this, other than just agreeing with the observation. Cowherd is right and it seems like the NBA will just keep going down the road of the sideshow becoming the news. As a fan, it’s upsetting, but sometimes it may be what’s best to get eyes on the product.


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