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The NFL Will Always Reign Supreme Over the NBA For One Simple Reason

The NFL and the NBA are America’s two most popular professional sports, though the former is no doubt more so than the latter. 

Note that I’m not saying that football is more popular than basketball; I’m not sure that’s actually true. 

But there is an undeniable delta between the ratings and revenue produced by professional football and those by professional basketball.

There are myriad differences between the two leagues and the two sports, but the most glaring and relevant of which is the fact that football is inherently more dangerous than basketball. 

NFL Players Have No Choice But To Try

NFL players have no choice but to exert maximum effort on the field; if they don’t, they leave themselves at severe risk of injury. 

Playing at full speed and giving it your all, in the NFL, is an inherent necessity. Players do so not only because they’re pursuing a win for the team and personal success, but also because there’s the underlying notion of protecting themselves. A receiver jogging across the middle of the field or an o-lineman taking their sweet time to get off the ball leaves themselves at risk of injury. 

An NBA player, on the other hand, can refuse to box out or jog back on defense without having to worry about getting blindsided or concussed. They can get away with it, and they do.

Fans are aware of it, though, either explicitly or implicitly. 

The fact of the matter is that we love watching sports because it’s a competition; watching people fight, in some way, shape, or form, has been a staple in human entertainment since the dawn of time. 

The NFL will always reign supreme over the NBA because it channels that animalistic and carnal aspect of human nature in the most streamlined manner possible, relative to the other professional sports. The game is so physical and violent; the rivalries so genuine and intense; and the players so tough that it taps into that side of the brain far more than the NBA does.

When fans tune into an NFL game, they’re confident that the product on the field will feature nothing other than absolute effort and an intense need to win. When fans tune into an NBA game, they’re confident that the product on the court will feature plenty of jogging, even more complaining, and probably a healthy dose of flopping, just for good measure.

When I watch the NFL, I’m taken aback at how willing the players are to put their bodies on the line; we’ve all seen clips of guys running with their helmets off or star players refusing to come out of the game after a nasty hit. When I watch the NBA, I am floored by the defensive effort and the lackadaisical nature of their play style. 

The lack of boxing out in the NBA is genuinely comedic. The next time you watch a game, notice how when a guy shoots a three-pointer, the rest of the players literally just stand there, watching the ball slowly loop over their heads to the rim, before there’s a mad dash to grab the rebound. 

The NBA's Tanking Problem

Let’s take tanking as a more general example- a rampant issue in the NBA, an afterthought in the NFL. 

The NBA has tanking controversies all the time- where teams lose on purpose to bolster their draft position and chances at landing a star collegiate player. The NFL sometimes features stories about tanking at the end of the year, too, but they typically involve a different type of controversy- namely, teams that probably should tank, but don’t.

I think back to two years ago when the Texans gave the Bears the #1 overall pick (traded to Carolina) by throwing a game-winning touchdown pass on 4th and 20. The Texans could not have been more incentivized to lose that game- a win would have given them the #1 pick, a loss the second… but the players still gave it their all to win. The Jets, a few years back, had a chance to score the #1 pick and get Trevor Lawrence. They won the last game of the year and ended up with Zach Wilson (good grief). 

Despite my being a Jets fan and having wished that they would lose, I respect and love that ethos, that absolute need to win, far more than I do the idea of my team drafting the top quarterback.

That right there is what sets professional football apart; winning in the NFL is treated like the President of the United States, and winning in the NBA is treated like a second-class citizen.

And when Draymond Green is widely regarded as a tough guy, you know you’ve got a problem with your sport. 


Read more NBA news from Stadium Rant here: NBA News

Read more NFL news from Stadium Rant here: NFL News


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