Does the NBA Real Time Play Issue Impact International Success?

As one of the most popular sports in the USA, by default Basketball and the NBA is one of the most popular sports in the entire world – it attracts its fair share of international attention and there’s no denying the hundreds of millions of viewers that enjoy the game and the larger number involved in wagering too as this betfair welcome offer is becoming more widely available across the US with changing sports betting legislation. 

Over the years there have been plenty of opinion pieces on the rules of the NBA and Basketball as a whole in the US, particularly after the most recent Olympics where the FIBA rules led many viewers to a much better experience, but does the current set-up hurt international success for the sport?

Examples are often pointed to extreme examples of games that have 20-seconds remaining on the clock but due to fouls, timeouts, and the flow of play, this 20-seconds of game time equates to more than 20-minutes of real time and for first time or inexperienced viewers, this may seem like a very surreal experience and one that may not be enjoyable either. Sure, it’s more basketball to watch, but if that basketball is being forced by repeated fouls and deliberate poor play, the experience quickly sours. 

Photo Credit: Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

That isn’t to even mention the timeouts that teams get in the NBA too, if the game is already being delayed heavily by these late game fouls and out-of-bounds plays, then the fourteen additional timeouts (seven for each team) that can be up to one minute and fifteen seconds – this can turn a game that has 48-minutes of play into a game that with half time and other pauses could last up to three hours. 

That isn’t to say the game isn’t relentlessly fast-paced, the end-to-end action in basketball serves as one of it’s biggest draws and the players are fantastic athletes for the length of these games, but it can be jarring when stoppages seem to come every other moment and the flow of the game is often considered to be a problem for many viewers, even devoted fans who follow the excitement from play to play just for an abrupt stoppage to occur.

The FIBA rules noted above are what’s often used in other international play that calls for shorter periods of just 10-minutes, fewer reviews, and more physical in nature too leading the games to be much shorter in nature with the same calls to have these seventy five second timeouts removed entirely bringing the average game time down from over two and a half hours to under two hours, certainly more manageable for international viewers looking to enjoy the experience in a more familiar way and in a way that the game doesn’t trail over into the extremely early hours of the morning too.

With the NBA having celebrated its 75th anniversary and being bigger than ever in the US, it has no shortage of fans calling for things to remain the same, and ultimately does the NBA need any change to fix its problems? Certainly not, the sport is doing great as it is, but if there were ever a desire to see international success grow, then adjustments may need to be considered. 

Other sports show just how impactful change can be, looking at Formula 1 having introduced new tracks to the US, it has cemented itself as the fastest growing sport in America and one of the fastest growing sports in the world too and that extra viewership brings all sorts of opportunity, the NBA isn’t hurting for investment but if the league was able to expand its reach, it would show a whole new range of possibilities. 

Opinion pieces will continue to recommend change, staunch fans will continue to suggest the game remains the same, and either way the NBA will continue to thrive much as it has been, but it’s always interesting to theory craft some potential changes and see where they could take the sport, even if no change is ever likely to come.

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