View Single Post
Old
02-17-2007, 01:31 AM
  #1
kdb209
Global Moderator
 
kdb209's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 15,850
vCash: 500
Mythbusters: Sports Illustrated June 20, 1994 "Why the NHL's Hot and the NBA's Not"

Quote:
Sports Illustrated
June 20, 1994

Why the NHL's Hot and the NBA's Not

While the NBA's image has cooled, the NHL has ignited surprising new interest in hockey
by E. M. Swift

LET'S SEE if we've got this straight. NBA basketball, as played by the Eastern Conference champions, the New York Knicks, is called “butt-ugly” and “thuggish” by USA Today, while the erstwhile black sheep of professional team sports, the National Hockey League, appears in the “Styles of the Times” section of The New York Times, where it is described as “hip”, “sexy” and cutting edge”.

The Los Angeles Times, citing a 30% drop in prime-time television ratings during the conference finals, denounces the NBA playoffs as “a game of mud wrestling” and host to “the occasional near riot”, while the trade magazine Sports Licensing International gushes that “the convergence of an exciting sport, a new executive team at the NHL itself and a renewed marketing emphasis an NHL Enterprises has made hockey the place to be.”

Basketball, thuggish? Hockey, the place to be? Talk about your role reversals. When former NBA executive Gary Bettman took over as commisioner the NHL last year, everyone predicted hockey would assume the NBA look: hip music in the stadiums; an influx of young, energetic marketing whizzes in the league offices; zippy new promotions. What no one foresaw, however was the simultaneous and inexplicable NHL-ing of the NBA: on-court brawls spreading into the stands; a sudden and embarrassing franchise shift; bizarre, pugnacious behavior by out-of-control owners; outrageous refereeing gaffes; and spin-doctoring denials from the league.
Thus began the almost mythic (on these boards at least) Sports Illustrated cover article from June 1994, often referred to (but obviously never read by) various posters here to buttress their arguments that the NHL was about to ecllipse the NBA in popularity until it was all undone by the evil deeds of Gary Bettman. My recollection of the article was that it said no such thing, so after the myth popped up nearly simultaneously in several threads, I decided to shell out the $7.95 + S/H to buy a back issue and see what it really said.

Let me start by saying:

NOWHERE DOES IT SAY THAT THE NHL WAS AS POPULAR AS THE NBA, ON THE VERGE OF BECOMING MORE POPULAR THAN THE NBA, OR IN ANY SIZE SHAPE OR FORM PROJECTED TO BECOME MORE POPULAR THAN THE NBA.

While complimentary of the NHL, the article was more a lament on the state of the NBA in the Post Bird/Magic/Jordan(Retirement #1) era. The article, written with a distinct New York point of view (not surprising since both the Rangers and Knicks were in their respective finals), was written during the Cup Finals (before game 7).

I'll give some more excerpts in follow-up posts, but the main points of the article are:

1. The NHL is “Hot” - based on such indisputable evidence as mentions in the “Styles of the Times” section of the NY Times, the appearance of such celebrity couples as JFK Jr and Daryl Hannah at Rangers games, Tommy Hilfiger opining on the fasionableness of Hockey Jerseys, and a 17 yo aquaintance who watched the playoffs because he liked playing EA's NHL94.

2. The bulk of the article was a lament on the current state of the NBA – ugly basketball as most represented by the “thugish” New York Knicks.

3. The most direct comparison made between the NHL and NBA was the quality of play during their respective playoffs.

4. The article was light on any real numbers or measurable facts, but those few were distinctly in the NBA's favor – a 12.6 Finals rating on ABC vs a 1.8 on ESPN, $2.5B in licensed merchandise sales vs $1B.

5. Don't get me wrong, the article was quite complimentary of the NHL and the direction the league was taking under Bettman, but nowhere does it make any claim that the NHL was anywhere near the popularity of the NBA.


Last edited by kdb209: 02-17-2007 at 02:51 AM.
kdb209 is online now   Reply With Quote