Sunday, April 15, 2012

A stray thought

I don't know much about basketball. I mean, I could probably identify a basketball hoop in a lineup of tall things, and I'm fairly certain that I've heard of Shaq. But that's as far as it goes, so take this with a grain of salt.

From what I understand, college basketball is considered a more respectable sport than NBA basketball. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that I've heard from multiple basketball fans about how March Madness is when they really watch all the time, because the NBA is just kinda weird and spectacular, and the college games are where real basketball skill comes out. Again, I have no idea what "real basketball skill" is, this is just a thing I've heard.

Anyway, I was (obviously) thinking about hockey today, between watching the filthy brawl the Penguins brought into Philadelphia in lieu of a hockey game this afternoon and hearing about the totally arbitrary suspension decisions handed down this evening. The obvious connection for me was that games like this afternoon's are made possible by decisions like this evening's. It's a larger-scale version of what happens in games: last night, the linesmen didn't skate in to stop Matt Carkner from wailing on Brian Boyle, so eventually Brandon Dubinsky had to, which got him thrown out of the game. Similarly, this afternoon, the referees left James Neal on the ice after he jumped into Sean Couturier's head, which led to further brawls with him immediately afterwards.

On a larger scale, this is what the NHL is doing: failing to appropriately police the players, thus creating situations in which terrible shit happens on the ice. We already talked about the non-suspension on Shea Weber, and what kind of message it sends. When the decision-making in general is as arbitrary as it's been this week, there is no incentive for players to not be dirtbags. And on a large scale, when the NHL fails to send any kind of message (other than "Sometimes we suspend people, moreso if we don't like them that much, maybe"), it leads to debacles like we saw this afternoon, in which it's possible that Matt Cooke actually was the cleanest Penguin on the ice.

So, I was thinking about that, and I was thinking about how it seems to be getting worse lately. And I found myself extrapolating to what the NHL would look like 10 years from now, if it kept doling out this same brand of weird, arbitrary non-justice. It wasn't pretty. And so I found myself wondering if real hockey fans, such as myself, might just start getting our hockey from other places - if maybe by my 50s I'd just be a big Cornell fan or something. Which is why, you see, I made the connection and found myself thinking about basketball, something I do not do very often, because I am pretty bad at it.

I think a dog won the Basketball Cup one year? Disney made a documentary about it? Something like that.

Regardless, then I remembered what Gary Bettman's job was from 1981 to 1992. And then I got really depressed. So I wrote this blog entry. I don't feel better.