Great Debate: Which season would you miss more, the NBA or NFL?

Former Cal quarterback and reigning Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers may see his upcoming season shortened if the NFL lockout continues.
Deng-Kai Chen/File
Former Cal quarterback and reigning Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers may see his upcoming season shortened if the NFL lockout continues.

NBA
The NFL is America’s Goliath. The league packs stadiums unlike anyone else in the country, and its viewing figures dwarf the competition. What other single game makes commercials an event of their own? If money talks, it’s been shouting football for years.

And that’s why the NBA lockout is so much worse.

No, the NFL lockout doesn’t look like it’s going to end just yet. After brief reports of progress, it appears that the owners and the players have reached another impasse. But go check NFL.com for a second. Now, check NBA.com. Notice anything different?

The latter looks like it was made six or seven years ago because the NBA can’t use pictures or videos of any current players. That’s how serious this is. The NFL can’t run OTAs that no one really wants to go to anyway. NBA employees need permission to go to players’ weddings.

To oversimplify everything, the NFL labor dispute is tied up over revenue sharing. There’s plenty of cash to go around; everyone just needs to figure out how to split it and how much less they can give to rookies. At some point, games will start.

The same might not be true for the NBA, where a lost season is a frighteningly real possibility. The league claims 22 of its 30 teams are in the red. Players dispute that number, but the fact is that many owners see the lockout as an investment.

Part of the problem is trigger-happy owners. The second-highest paid player in the NBA this year was Rashard Lewis. He averaged 11.7 points per game last season. This makes owners angry. (Note: A lot of fans think players are overpaid and should just suck it up. Have they thought about how much more owners make?)

Now, ownership is demanding a hard salary cap and a scaling back of not just future but current salaries. Commissioner David Stern is happy to play hardball too, having said that the league’s offers will only lower once the lockout takes effect. While the NBA is more of a player’s league than any other, the owners still pull all the strings. (Why else would a terrible person like Donald Sterling still be allowed to own a team?)

To make the timing extra painful, the NBA is — excuse me, was — riding on the momentum of a fantastic season. Poof.

As a fan, I can manage a few weeks without pro football. College football has plenty of storylines to keep everyone excited until the big boys come to their senses. (What’s the Pac-12 going to be like? How hard is Oregon going to get hammered? Can Cal finish over .500?!)

College hoops won’t truly fill the void until March.

More directly, an NFL lockout will give me a couple of free Sundays. Surely, I’m not the only one stuck in front of a screen when over a dozen games are crammed into 12 hours?
– Jack Wang

NFL

Over the years, I developed a weekend routine during football season: Wake up Saturday morning, watch college football, go to sleep. Wake up Sunday morning, watch the NFL, get ready for school. This has been sewn inside me as deeply as fireworks inside every Fourth of July celebration.

With the current NFL lockout threatening to derail the upcoming season, my routine is about to be disturbed.

If the NFL season is indeed lost, I will be as furious as a mother bear rudely awakened during her hibernation.

Although I know I have college football by my side on Saturdays, I still need my NFL games to end the weekend with an exclamation point. If college football is the appetizer, the NFL is the main dish. There might be a handful who would be satisfied with only the appetizer, but who in their right mind would say no to a full course meal?

The main reason I dread a lost NFL season more than a lost NBA campaign is that the scarcity of NFL games makes every single one more valuable. One NFL game counts for 6.25 percent of its season while the one NBA game makes up only 1.2 percent. A single NFL contest has the power to make or break a team’s season — one lost game through the lockout can severely the alter the power rankings of the entire league.

With so much on the line, you see more interest from fans and effort from players — regardless of their teams’ previous records. I get excited on Sunday morning when I see my below-.500 Arizona Cardinals playing their last game of the season. I don’t quite get the same rush for an NBA regular season game. Most know that the real fun lies in the playoffs, so they don’t really give a hoot about a Wednesday night tilt between two mediocre clubs.

And if there is no NFL season, then what happens to fantasy football? Nothing — not even fantasy basketball — can replace the either ecstasy or despair that fantasy football provides every weekend. Thanks to the lockout, another form of entertainment may be snatched away from me.

While I can bicker about having no fantasy football, others believe that the NFL lockout has deeper social repercussions. Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis boldly claimed that if the NFL season is lost, there will be a spike in crime rates in America because people will have nothing else to do.

Lewis’ statement may be wrong and ridiculous, but I know what correlates better with the lack of NFL football: my impatience and anger, because this lockout has gone on for too damn long.
— Seung Y. Lee