Championship vs Entertainment

Is sports about winning championships or is it about keeping us entertained? As a fan, are you happier if your team plays well or if they win?

There has been a huge debate around the NBA about players resting and the main argument has been should they play because the fans are paying to watch them play. The players argue that resting is good strategy and allows them to be fresh for the post season. The TV companies argue that they are paying the players billions and therefore the players should be playing as this boosts ratings and allows them to recoup their investments through adverts.




Both sides have a valid argument;

TV Companies

TV companies pay enormous amounts of money to acquire the rights to screen NBA games; under the current deal, ESPN and TNT retained the rights to show NBA games for the next nine years at a cost of $24 billion. This deal has an implied promise that the players will do all in their power to promote the league and make it more entertaining to viewers. It is through increased ratings that TV companies can recoup their investments through advertisements and subscriptions. This is not unreasonable to ask considering the players earn 49% of this amount. These companies therefore feel betrayed when the star players miss the nationally televised games as these are the games that earn the companies the most. Unlike other sports like football, rugby etc basketball is driven by one or two stars in a team and is more player-centric; Barcelona viewers will not reduce much if Messi misses a game and neither will Real if Ronaldo misses, unlike basketball if Lebron or Steph Curry miss a game.

Players Perspective


The players have seen how former players who did not win championships are treated; Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller Dominique Wilkins e.t.c. are all Hall of Fame players who do not get the love they deserve because of their lack of championships. Steven Gerrard is always taunted about not winning the EPL crown. This knowledge makes players play with a mindset of championship or bust. When they look around they see San Antonio Spurs who notoriously rest players have 5 championships, while the Golden State Warriors who refused to rest their players last season ended up short in their quest for the championship. They also see former players struggling with health issues due to injuries that were untreated at the time they occurred because a player wanted to play. With this in mind they hope that by resting every now and then to help their bodies recuperate, they will get prolonged careers and will be in better shape to win championships during the post season.

The answer as usual lies in the middle, play they important nationally televised games and rest during the less meaningful games, but the debate should be about what the players' top priority should be; should be be about winning championships or entertaining the fans? Do you prefer a ring less but very entertaining Vince Carter or a winning but boring Tim Duncan?

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