Let me clarify that I am not a sports fan. I have never watched sports of any kind on television, and frankly have never understood the appeal. My attitude towards sports is similar to my feelings on pornography; I’d rather play than watch.
But the one exception has always been the NBA. For over twenty years I have had season tickets to see my hometown team, The Portland Trailblazers. So of course the NBA lockout this year has put a damper on my fall and winter fun. But as bad as this might be for the fans, I especially feel sympathy for the many businesses that depend on the NBA to make a living; and I’m not talking about the silly and selfish billionaire owners or multi-millionaire players. I’m more concerned with the restaurants, t-shirt shops, concession stands, and other small businesses that depend on the games to survive.
Last night I went to a favorite local restaurant that many people typically visit before a game because of its easy access to the stadium. A year ago it would have been packed with people, but without a game it was a ghost town.
I can’t help but think about the many great non-profits that operate concession stands in the Rose Garden to support terrific causes. While the lockout might have a minimal effect on Paul Allen, Mark Cuban, or Kobe Bryant – it really hurts the Boy Scout Troup in Hillsboro, Oregon that won’t have funding this year, and I suspect the family of the shoe shine guy that does a booming business on game nights won’t have much of a Christmas.
It occurs to me that right now selfishness and incompetence rule when it comes to getting things done. Owners can’t get along with players; Democrats can’t get along with Republicans. While they all argue about money, the rest of us keep paying the price. As I write this the stock market is down 200 points, primarily because our Congress just can’t get along, which drives market uncertainty, and as a result the country loses. Our 401k accounts go down in value; companies fire or don’t hire; but instead of acting like real Americans, making some tough decisions, and finding a way to get along, our “corporate and Grover Nordquist sponsored” politicians throw up their hands and say there is nothing they can do.
And maybe this will get us all thinking a bit differently. Perhaps next year I really don’t need my Blazers Season Tickets. Thanks to the immaturity of the NBA, I am learning that life isn’t so bad without basketball. Perhaps I can find some entertainment that is just as fulfilling provided by people that care about my community.
And while I don’t get a say in choosing who owns or plays on an NBA team, I do get to cast a vote for who represents me in Washington.