The first game of the 2020 NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat has the lowest ratings in recorded history, going all the way back to 1994 when the statistic was first reported. Only 7.41 million people tuned in to watch the game. This is a huge drop from the first game of the 2019 NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors which had 13.51 people tune in.
There are a variety of reasons and excuses to pick from that explain the drop-off in viewership. One reason is rock solid and stands out above the rest, though. Ever since the NBA took a break mid-season due to the virus outbreak, society has become more “woke” as a whole. Or at least… some people who are tuned into the social media world have become more “woke.” And what the word “woke” means in the context of the National Basketball Association is “race-centered.”
NBA players wanted to come back to playing games after the long virus break with a focus on racial “injustice” such as the George Floyd and Breonna Taylor incidents. The phrase “Black Lives Matter” is emblazoned on the basketball court. Every NBA player in Orlando playing in the “bubble” took a knee with a “Black Lives Matter” shirt on, except for a few brave souls who dared to go against the gain. The Milwaukee Bucks walked out of a “bubble” game after Jacob Blake was shot by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The trend of “wokeness” does not just reside with NBA players. There are also commentators and coaches joining in on the woke train. NBA analyst and former player Jalen Rose shouted out “arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor” live on an NBA broadcast when they were heading to commercial break. NBA analyst Mark Jones swore off his police detail on Twitter in a race-fueled tirade about how bad the police are.
All of the aforementioned political infusion into the NBA has turned away male conservative viewers who are the obvious majority that watches all sports. Beyond the unwelcome social/political commentary, there is also the issue of a watered-down product. NBA games are being played on one court in Orlando with no real audience. Nobody has the home-court advantage. And LeBron James has made the NBA into a place where guys just get popular on social media, make a lot of money, and give little back in the way of sticking with a team and performing well. Yes, LeBron James and other guys need to set themselves up for the future, but what are they doing to the NBA’s future and continued viability of the game on a professional level?
To no one’s surprise, the NBA’s viewership and popularity, in general, is way down. And it was already going down before the woke wave. The inevitable result will be less financial success for everyone involved with the NBA. And the NBA commissioner Adam Silver is a feckless leader who simply fiddles as the Orlando Bubble burns.
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