The first topic up for debate is a Norman/19 classic; we'll be talking NBA vs. NHL. I have an extremely hard time tolerating the NBA, while Stormin' Norman doesn't much care for hockey and their invisible pucks. The NBA-NHL debate is especially relevant this time of year, when they'll soon be your only choices for professional sports entertainment.
SY19: I simply don't see the appeal of the NBA over the NHL. Hockey is a fast-paced sport that gives a fan everything he or she wants. One minute you could watch a guy skate around two defenders with the puck and beat the goaltender, then you see the same player smash an opponent into the glass, followed by a fist-fight. Sure, there are fist-fights and great moves in the NBA, but they typically involve a lot of girl-slapping or traveling. Which reminds me, the NHL doesn't seem to have a problem with refs fixing games, or just being horrible in general.
SN: Before I say anything about which is better, I want to point out StevieY's unfair advantage. He knows the rules of hockey AND basketball. That's right, I don't even know the rules of hockey. To be honest, I bet 90% of America doesn't know the rules. Outside of Detroit hockey is truly an afterthought. Here's why: not enough scoring, can't see the puck/anything around the net, we get our real fighting from MMA and our fake fighting from WWE, and mostly because its boring. The NBA has far more and far better highlights. Have you ever watched top ten plays of the week on sportscenter? Yeah, I fastforward through the "sick glove saves" to get to the windmill dunks too. Tough to argue with you on the referee thing, but they have so many more difficult calls to make a game, I think. Don't forget, I don't really know the rules of hockey.
SY19: I really can't give much credence to the "not enough scoring" complaint from non-NHL fans. In my opinion, the NHL can be the most exciting major sport to watch start to finish. I can't find a reason to watch NBA teams trade meaningless baskets until they start trying in the fourth quarter. Yeah, there are a lot of highlights, but most come from terrible defense, not great plays. Hockey players can fill up the highlight reels as well. Let's remember that ESPN is choosing these highlights and they just happen to carry one of the leagues on their network. Back to the scoring. I haven't done any kind of research, but I would say a hockey game in the last two years averages about five goals per game. Take the NFL as a comparison; there aren't many more than five touchdowns scored in those games. The NHL really shouldn't take heat because their goals don't count for seven points. Plus, if you want to base excitement on number of points scored, I hear ESPN2 shows Scrabble tournaments every now and then.
SN: Once again, I don't know how hockey works, but I'm guessing that it is like any other sport. Sometimes a great play is made and sometimes someone just blows the defense. A bad pitch in baseball? A missed coverage in football? A defender cheating into a passing lane and getting beat off the dribble? But hockey is different? Somehow in hockey the defenders are always playing stellar defense and are totally focused on the game. I'm not even going to address the ESPN conspiracy theory thing. Hockey killed hockey, not the media. Points scored or no points scored, nobody can even play the game! 90% of kids can't afford 500$ worth of equipment and have a nice skating rink to learn to play in. Only in Canada where they can play outdoors and in the rich suburbs of Detroit where parents can afford to push their kids into hockey does it fly. Hockey shouldn't and can't be anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon line, as evidenced by what happened after the Tampa Bay team won the Stanley Cup (Lock-out). You can play basketball (and football and baseball for that matter) any time you want anywhere you want! Even if the weather permits, how many people own their own skates and have an ice rink nearby? Not you StevieY, I've never seen you lace them up.
SY19: Fair enough, not a lot of little kids are out playing hockey, but there are plenty. Maybe the US will never be a hockey powerhouse, but you don't have to look far to find evidence of a thriving program here in the States, just ask Patrick Kane. One of the best things about the NHL is that it has succeeded where the NBA is now trying to break ground: the international scene. And yes, hockey is different. Sure, there are moments of poor defense, but there aren't any teams out there like the Warriors who simply don't care about defense, and I guarantee there is a much more consistent effort from the players over the course of the season that is the exact length of the NBA's. In my opinion, the product the NBA has put out in the last four or five years has been significantly diminished. With about 30 teams and a crop of players in their prime that were ill prepared for the NBA by skipping or leaving college early, the players simply aren't as good. I don't know about nation-wide, but at least here in Chicago you better be ready for hockey to be huge. Sure, the Bulls have Rose, but without a hint of a supporting cast, it's going to be the Blackhawks' city for at least a few winters. So you better learn to stop asking when the fourth quarter of the Hawks game will be on, and read up on offsides and icing while you're at it. Oh, and I don't want to hear about not being able to see the puck. Can you see a football when a running back has it? No, you just know he has it. You can't see it on a deep pass on TV either, you just watch the camera angle and the defensive back as he tries to hide the fact that he's grabbing more jersey than Alyssa Milano. Pay attention, you can't coast through 85% of the game without watching; it's not a basketball game.
SN: Zing! Excellent finish there, however proving that NHL attendance is higher than NBA attendance only proves that more people go to games. Even I like going to a hockey game once in while. It's a good time. Unfortunately the 20,000 they "pack" into hockey games pales in comparison to the dollars from TV and merchandising that the NBA makes. If your point is that hockey is more popular in the United States, I'm pretty sure you lose soundly on that argument. I'm just trying to say that the NBA is more popular for a good reason. You may be right about Chicago for now, so I guess I will have to start cheering for more "penalty kills" if I want to stay up on the Chicago sports scene. Regardless of the Chicago scene, the high-flying dunks, filthy dribble drives, and sick passes will always hold my interest more than the Ice Capades.