It's NBA Playoff Time: When Will the Fans Show Up?
ITHACA, NY — Arguably, the highlight of the NBA's 2011-12 season was a season-nonopening player lockout. Throughout the season, attendance for most of the league’s franchises remained stagnant. That hasn’t changed, even though the playoffs are underway — with essentially the same teams featured as in last year’s postseason.
“According to Sport Media Watch, coverage of the 2012 NBA Playoffs on ABC averaged a 3.7 rating and 5.616 million viewers, down 12 percent in ratings and 17 percent in viewership from last year,” said Stephen Mosher, professor of sport management and media at Ithaca College. “All that despite the potential drawing power of stars such as Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.”
As Mosher explains in the accompanying 60-second video clip, the reason for the declining attendance is as much cultural as financial. In the past, Mosher says, Magic Johnson and other charismatic figures with superlative ball skills drew fans to the arenas. Currently, however, players such as LeBron James and Kobe Bryant fail to universally inspire the fans’ respect even though James and Bryant are outstanding players.
Expert in sports ethics as well as sports heroes and villains, Stephen Mosher has published and lectured widely on sport and popular culture. To interview him, call Keith Davis, assistant director of Ithaca College media relations, at (607) 274-1153.