It's been less than 24 hours since NBA commissioner David Stern announced Monday evening that his league would be forced to cancel the first two weeks of its season as a result of an ongoing labor dispute.
A great number of the comments in reply to our article covering the lockout—be they on Facebook or Twitter or even here on the actual site—have been of the "who cares?" variety. A roughly equal number have actually been celebratory, or at least wholly dismissive of the league as a sporting entity. And then there have been maybe two comments that expressed indignation over your pithy remarks—one of them was mine.
I'll admit right up front that this sort of behavior has been on my mind quite a bit lately. I've even written a piece about it within the last week.
So, I ask, whatever happened to actual indifference? You know, indifference—where you legitimately don't care.
I cannot understand this overwhelming need for individuals to constantly complain about that which they supposedly "don't care."
If you didn't care, you wouldn't need to comment.
I don't see soccer fans showing up on posts about Ryan Howard's OBP and writing "who cares?"
I don't send angry letters to the Hallmark channel complaining about their programming. I just don't watch it.
But, you people, "the we complain under the guise that we don't care, but we really have a deep and abiding need to let other people know just know much we don't care" crowd, you people are just the tip of the iceberg.
Because, then we have the people who are actually happy about the NBA lockout. This sort of sentiment is completely and totally bewildering.
But, maybe…maybe it's coming together now. Of course, no one would seriously ask "who cares?" about Ryan Howard's OBP or his ruptured achilles tendon; we all care about those issues.
Though, it's apparent, we really didn't care about Major League Baseball or this Phillies franchise in the late-1990s. I guess it's because the team wasn't any good.
I know we all love to be able to hold up the fact that we're all fans from the tough times, and that, because we suffered, these wins are more meaningful; but, those attendance figures tell a different story for at least some of us.
I don't mean to pick on Phillies fans. The Philadelphia 76ers, for example, finished dead last in stadiums filled by percentage of capacity last season, and just 25th in total average attendance.
Remember when Allen Iverson used to sell out the building? Those days are surely long gone, right? Because so many of you hate the NBA, or at the very least "don't care."
But unless I was hallucinating during game 3 of the Miami Heat series—and that's certainly possible since I was standing in the very last row under a section-wide banner that read "Nocioni's Neighborhood"—I don't remember seeing very many open seats in that arena. I definitely heard a very loud building.
You exist, Sixers fans. Somewhere, buried in your closet, you have a flag emblazoned with this logo that used to be mounted on your car and flying in the wind.
My concern is that in another decade, maybe all this Phillies merchandise will be stuck in that same closet. Maybe Major League Baseball will be working toward the implementation of a salary cap, resulting in a prolonged labor stoppage. Maybe someone will write about the day Spring Training gets cancelled, and maybe they'll be met with a loud chorus of "who cares?" It happened for how many failing markets in 1994 and how many more until McGwire, Sosa and the new ballparks brought the people back?
Since I was old enough to walk, I've been attending Philadelphia Flyers games with my father. When the NHL missed an entire season from 2004-2005, I don't remember thinking to myself, "well, of course I'm a Flyers fan, but good riddance to the NHL."
It's one thing not to care. And it's another not to like basketball. It's just very difficult for me to understand the sentiment that you could possibly be happy about the NBA losing games. Why is it a problem for you that the NBA exists? If you don't like it, then don't bother with it. Is the crusade against it really necessary?
I admit, the league has problems—huge problems. So, I understand the argument that this lockout is fundamentally good if those problems are indeed addressed. But that means I support the lockout so as to better the product, not because I dislike basketball or the league itself.
As for the criticisms of its national coverage, I'm not going to make the NBA apologize for signing a lucrative TV deal any more than I would make the NFL atone for its wealth. And, in response to the arguments against the never-ending NBA "noise machine" at the World Wide Leader, I point to the ESPN Monday Night Football extension just signed, the one that mandates the immediate start of 500 additional hours NFL programming per week. Surely we all agree that "The Decision" was a calamity, but I refuse to blame a network for the success of a team. What do you expect, networks to ignore the NBA Finals because the Heat are involved?
All that said, I've got some good news for you. After all this whining and complaining on my part, I'm willing to give you a pass. I'm willing to let bygones be bygones and accept the fact that you're happy the NBA isn't in session.
You just have to promise to do me one favor.
When times get good, remember how you used to hate professional basketball, or, at the very least, "didn't care."