NBL must kill off in-game music
Wildcats forward Shawn Redhage drives past Larry Abney and Mitch Norton of the Crocodiles during the round two NBL match between the Townsville Crocodiles and the Perth Wildcats on October 14, 2012. (Image: AAP)
When it comes to music at games during play, the NBL need to look at the NBA and hit ‘copy and paste’. Indeed, the entire audio aspect of game night needs to be immediately peeled back and re-modelled on the world’s best league.
The NBL can’t replicate the NBA in terms of playing talent or hype or media attention or… well, let’s face it, a lot of things.
But it does have the power to control what comes out of its speakers at games.
There really is no excuse for what fans around the country have been treated to so far this season, particularly yesterday during the free-to-air televised Townsville-Perth clash.
Those who watched were being asked to put their hands up for Detroit as Gary Ervin was driving to the net in his first game back in the league. They were being told that a South Korean bloke has something called Gangnam Style as the Wildcats worked towards another impressive road win.
Melbourne Tigers coach Chris Anstey took to Twitter to criticise it all.
“For the record I hate music during play at basketball games – there is enough time for that during quarter breaks and timeouts,” he tweeted.
Anstey – who may or may not have been trying to take attention away from him saying he “couldn’t give a shit what people think” in relation to outside pressure following his side’s 0-2 start – was very quickly inundated with support.
People said it was the reason they didn’t go to games.
People said NBL games were not meant to be nightclubs.
People said it was fine when it got the crowds involved with chants, but most of it had the opposite effect.
People said the issue was compounded by the fact a lot of the music is terrible.
It went on and on. Seriously, take a look at every single one of the tweets directed at Anstey yesterday.
One lone voice stood up for the music, the rest were overwhelmingly against it. Even Tigers legend Andrew Gaze agreed with Anstey.
It goes without saying that sporting codes must listen to its fans, especially when they make their view so clear. But when some of the game’s biggest names hold the exact same view, the status quo becomes untenable.
Of course, what the NBL offers is more than just a game of basketball. Indeed, it’s a night of entertainment that extends beyond that.
Yesterday, The Sun-Herald ran a feature comparing the bang for your buck of nine sporting codes in Sydney. Kings coach Shane Heal was asked to state the case for the NBL and he did so by talking about more than just four quarters of hoops.
“We play inside, so Sydney Kings fans are close to all of the action, the cheerleaders, the antics of the Lion mascot,” he said.
But Heal didn’t stop there. He had one more argument for Sydneysiders to take on board.
“You are in the game, not miles away. Up close and personal with the players, the refs, and the opposition,” he said.
That right there is one of the game’s biggest selling points. You are part of the action. You hear the players yelling at each other (and the refs). When the intensity lifts, you feel it.
Or, at least, you are supposed to. The music during play means a lot of that noise and atmosphere that’s meant to endear you to the sport is drowned out.
It is not enhancing the entertainment value of going to an NBL game, it is detracting from it.
As Anstey says, there are breaks at the end of each quarter and timeouts where music can be played. In these situations, music can actually be super effective.
When a play is big enough for the opposition coach to call a timeout, there’s nothing better than hearing one of your team’s signature tunes pumping out while everyone around you goes crazy.
And look, if you want some middle ground, maybe allow for a couple of extra songs to be squeezed in during other breaks in play, like drawn-out substitutions or when the refs are meeting over a contentious decision.
But the constant music during play needs to stop.
Better yet, it should be replaced by getting the crowd more involved. I’m sure the NBA would be happy to send over tapes of – professional sounding – chant starters.
For now, though, the NBL has a situation that’s holding the game back. It needs to change.
Michael DiFabrizio is completing his journalism degree. As an AFL writer, he has been an expert columnist at The Roar since 2009, and appeared in The Age and on ABC television and radio. Follow Michael on twitter @mdifabrizio