Ray Ratto

NBA lockout won't change NHL attendance

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NBA lockout won't change NHL attendance

Heres how much the NHL will benefit from the NBA lockout.Hah!Yes, hah! Thats dismissive-speak for not a jot, and not in any way you could prove." But were going to prove it anyway, by bringing to you attendance figures that show how little two sports intersect in our customer service Venn diagram.Here are your NBA attendance figures for 2004 in cities where there are NHL franchise in the same town.

Atlanta 13,798 Boston 16,201 Charlotte 14,332 Chicago 19,736 Dallas 20,136 Denver 17,596 Detroit 21,290 Golden State 16,235 L.A. Lakers 18,696 Miami 15,239 Minnesota 17,635 New Jersey 14,952 New York 19,164 Philadelphia 19,222 Phoenix 16,350 Toronto 18,307 Washington 15,740And 2005, when there was no hockey?
Atlanta 504 increase Boston 200 decrease Charlotte 99 increase Chicago 468 increase Dallas 75 decrease Denver 61 increase Detroit 786 increase Golden State 115 increase L.A. Lakers 177 decrease Miami 4,642 increase Minnesota 454 decrease New Jersey 137 increase New York 351 increase Philadelphia 1,352 decrease Phoenix 1,358 increase Toronto 1,152 decrease Washington 1,356 increaseAnd then 2006 when hockey returned?
Atlanta 763 increase Boston 898 increase Charlotte 1,935 increase Chicago 984 increase Dallas 53 increase Denver 520 decrease Detroit 0 increase Golden State 1,922 increase L.A. Lakers 90 increase Miami 73 increase Minnesota 1,030 decrease New Jersey 1,777 increase New York 584 decrease Philadelphia 2,352 decrease Phoenix 101 increase Toronto 99 decrease Washington 0 increase
Logically, that means attendance in NBA cities should have increased without hockey, and decreased with it. Only two cities fit that paradigm, Denver and New York.Now lets do it the other way, only without the tedious charts. During the NBA lockout that led to the 50-game schedule in 1999, only three NHL teams saw their attendance rise in the semi-dark year and drop again the following one -- Philadelphia, Phoenix and Washington.In other words, what we have here is no correlation at all, and TV ratings are far more convoluted than that.Our point? Basketball is basketball, and hockey is hockey, and never the two shall meet. The sports are so wildly different, from the 205-point differential in the average total score for a game to the means of basic propulsion. In fact, to find a hockey and basketball fan is the equivalent of finding a vegan who likes cheeseburgers.True, a lot of folks will watch the NBA and NHL postseasons, because that represents the most obvious similarity between the sports. But over the course of an entire year -- no.More immediately, the Sharks already sell out, or say they do. They cant sell more tickets to displaced Warriors fans. If Comcast gets a significant ratings bump in Sharks regular season games this year, we (well, someone else) would still ask everyone who has signed on to say why, and Id bet the companys money very few would say, I used to like basketball, but now I like this. Closer to the truth: I cant watch Real Housewives of Saskatoon; it makes my brain bleed.Now hockey games and angry rich folks with nothing to do and lots of internecine jealousies to work out -- those are true comparables. All the way down to the head shots.

National SOB League can never forget the noble man who brought them together

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AP

National SOB League can never forget the noble man who brought them together

So after one day, the NSOBL (the National Son-Of-A-Bitch League, as if you couldn’t guess) has survived the contemptible brain-burps of the Panderer-In-Chief. Now we’ll see if the players’ fury has true staying power.
 
And by staying power, we don’t mean whether they will continue to defy the call of the National Anthem (an easy enough task), but whether they view their newfound solidarity as something that needs to be nurtured to truly endure.
 
After all, it’s easy to be galvanized by the noisy neighbor who spends his day on the porch shouting irrational obscenities at the neighbors. But Donald Trump isn’t the issue; he never was. All he did was put a face to the idiocies that prevent us from being the country we should be.
 
But this started a year ago with a single knee, a single person, and a broader cause than a President who needs to pick fights the way a vampire needs naked necks. Colin Kaepernick, whose career as a football player is essentially over because he caused the NFL a headache by honoring his conscience, took his knee to protest police excesses, and didn’t need to be called a son of a bitch to do so. He was later, of course, part of the medley of all the other insults that followed, but he didn’t kneel because he was insulted. He knelt because other were, and worse.
 
But the beauty of these days is that we take any idea or action and immediately change its meaning to fit our own prejudices. Kaepernick’s message was too nuanced for a lot of people’s facilities because they value symbols more than people, but nobody doesn’t understand being called a son of a bitch by a boss you hate.
 
So the new NSOBL is just starting to coalesce. There will not be a shortage of reasons for players to find their voice and conscience, and to break the bonds that required them to ask permission before speaking or thinking. If they are as they purport to be, they will remember that change happens with a single son of a bitch.

In retirement, Andre Ward will have days when he desperately wants back in

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AP

In retirement, Andre Ward will have days when he desperately wants back in

Andre Ward finally did what he said he would do – retire before the sport of boxing retired him.

Now we’ll see if boxing intends to leave him be.

Ward announced his retirement via Twitter Thursday morning, seemingly ending the career of one of the world’s greatest fighters in the elusive pound-for-pound category. He now plans to get into media, which is a battle of its own (ask Teddy Atlas when he talks with Stephen A. Smith how rewarding that can be).

But there’s that word “seemingly.” Boxers have a greater incidence of unretirement than any other sport because they miss what they do, they are typically surrounded by people who like the paydays the boxer’s fights provide, the unpaid tax debts some incur never go away, and sometimes they just don’t have anything better to do.

And then one day they find out they can’t do anything at all because of the punishments that come with violent sport, and then they become either tragedies or cautionary tales. Almost nobody gets to 95 like Jake LaMotta did.

Ward has said repeatedly that would never happen to him, that he was in control of his destiny and would remain so. And you want to believe him, because he would be that rarest of boxing stories – the unmitigated success.

It will be his toughest fight, however, far tougher than Sergei Kovalev. Boxing has this weird thrall upon its practitioners that can prove irresistible, if not outright necessary, and Ward will have to train as hard to repel its call as he did when he was neck-deep in it. It will not be easy, and he will have days when he desperately wants back in.

But retired fighters typically make poor unretired fighters, and the more one unretires, the worse the future becomes. So Andre Ward has to win this one more than any other fight.

And maybe it will be an easy victory for him – but it is a victory that will have to be achieved every day, almost like fighting alcoholism. Boxing is bad for you, and though it has been good for Andre Ward (as far as anyone knows), being an ex-boxer will be even better. He has done what needs to be done, and now he needs to do something else, one that doesn’t require putting his body and brain at risk for our amusement.

If this can be done, Andre Ward can achieve it. But neither he nor anyone else should think it will be any easier than understanding an Adalaide Byrd scorecard. Post-boxing will be difficult and rewarding business. All he has to do is master it every day for the rest of his life.