Turn off the damn music during NBL game play
For the love of god, the NBL needs issue a directive to all of the NBL clubs and their events management / game day operations staff to just stop playing goddam music when play is in progress. SERIOUSLY.
The psy-ops aural blitzkrieg on the punters' ears has been getting worse each year since the early 2000's. Judging by tonight's Breakers-Wildcats game, it's going to be at an all-time high this year too.
What the hell is the NBL thinking, as a professional league battling to attract more fans and viewers in one of the world's most crowded domestic sports markets? Why are they allowing this childish, embarassing rubbish to continue when none of their competitors allow it at all?
Here's why blasting the hapless fans with non-stop music at NBL matches does not work as an entertainment strategy and will continue to hamstring their appeal:
1. I've been watching the NBL since the mid-80's, have played at a high level since the late 80's and know literally hundreds of people directly involved in basketball at every level. NOT ONE of them likes music being played relentlessly during game play at the NBL games. Not. One. The basketball community universally detest it but feel powerless to stop it.
Even Andrew Gaze, doing commentary on one NBL game early last season, made a direct (and negative) exclamation about the amount of non-stop music being played over the top of the action on-court. Andrew Frickin' Gaze! And he was doing commentary! Imagine what all the fanssitting in the stands without a commentating job to keep their mind busy were thinking!?
2. None of my non-basketball-following friends can stand this aspect of the NBL's games either. Many of them say it's one of the reasons they cannot "get into" basketball in Australia but will happily watch an NBA game every now and then - the NBA shuts the music off the moment the ball is inbounded.
For the casual sports fan, tuning into an NBL match is an exercise in sensory overload. Some of my friends who, over the years, have actually attended the occasional match have walked out of the stadiums with their ears ringing and feeling physically exhausted despite barely doing more than clapping occasionally.
Having regularly attended games, I can say exactly the same thing. Great job in appealling to new viewers / fans / supporters, especially those with young children, NBL.
3. None of the NBL's major competitors for domestic market share (the NRL, AFL, rugby union and A-League), bombard their fans during actual match play with a relentless avalanche of tunes from the '70's and '80s that are completely unrelated to the action unfolding on-field, stoppages in play, shifts in momentum - those competitors actually trust their fans to be able to think for themselves and to cheer / boo when appropriate.
Go to an AFL match or an NRL match and people get up, cheer, shout support / abuse, talk to their friends / family sitting beside them - in other words, they're encouraged to engage as fans, engage in the action on field and the entire experience around them.
Rendering the fans in attendance unable to hear all but the loudest exhortations from the rest of the crowd (and completely unable to hear any of the action on-court) isolates the fan, discourages them from fully participating with WHAT'S ACTUALLY HAPPENING ON THE COURT (bopping along to yet another tired old Queen song from the 1970's is NOT fan engagement) and strongly suggests that the event organisers have no confidence in them knowing when to cheer, boo or otherwise behave like a supporter.
And that's exactly the problem - why do basketball officials fear a stadium without artificial noise? Are they terrified that fans might realise that it's quiet and decide to make some noise themselves?
Why the hell can the NBL never figure this out? It makes our sport look utterly ridiculous - this constant, shrill, desperate poking and prodding of the fans with gimmicks and mood-guidance in the misguided belief that they're "providing an entertaining fan experience"?
For the tv audience, it is a pathetic spectacle. The product on court is better than it's ever been in the history of the NBL....... yet you'd be mistaken for thinking that you've tuned into a Blue Light disco where they've rigged up some hoops on a big section of the dance floor.
Why would you think anything else if you tuned in halfway through the second quarter of any NBL match over the past half-decade? The music doesn't stop for dead balls, or made baskets, or fouls. If you're lucky it'll change to a different track.
It's time the NBL realised that it's fans aren't all aged 10 years old or under, and to take a very long, hard look at how the NBA, NRL, AFL and even the A-League do their game-day operations.
Just turn the goddamm music off each time the play commences, NBL clubs. PLEASE. I, and many in the basketball community, genuinely implore you.