Bold, foolhardy, or just plain foolish? Emmet Ryan is perplexed by the decisions of leagues in Italy and Spain to go up against Euro 2016 with two of their biggest games of the season
While Olimpia Milano claimed the Serie A title with a comeback win in Game 6 against Reggio Emilia, the Italian national soccer team was busy delivering one of the best performances of the opening stages of Euro 2016. It’s unlikely that Game 6 would have been able to live with any game from the soccer tournament in terms of capturing the national attention in Italy but when Italy’s own national team was playing? As Sportando reported the numbers backed that up with ratings crashing to just a 0.5 per cent share and 141,000 viewers, compared to almost 10 times that number for the championship decider a year ago between Reggio Emilia and Dinamo Sassari.
Tomorrow night sees Game 2 of the ACB Finals as Barcelona once again host Real Madrid. While El Clasico won’t go straight up against the Spanish national team, it will be airing directly during the other game in Spain’s group between Czech Republic and Croatia as well as the build up to the big game against Turkey.
The case in Spain has already left Jordanypippen frustrated (that post holds up pretty well under Google Translate) and with ample cause. The dates and times for games in Euro 2016 get decided months in advance, long before any post-season in European basketball. Planning around obvious clashes with premier events, i.e. things that are going to dominate sports cycles…so basically soccer…is only sensible.
There are two issues at play here, the short and long games. Short-term, leagues simply can’t blindly set dates and assume all will be grand. It’s not like a one-off final date or final four, a series format is built for flexibility. Your finals should be the show of the year, far more than your cup final, showing off the two sides who have fought the long road to get their shot at the title. In Italy that involves some pretty brutal series, playing more playoff games than any other league in Europe, while Spain is still meant to be THE league on the continent. Both Serie A and ACB are doing a disservice to their fans, yes the hardcore fans who turned up in great numbers to watch Reggio Emilia go down last night included, by not giving a finals series the best shot at exposure.
The long game is the issue that everyone has recognised in European hoops for ages but nobody seems all that pushed about addressing. The season takes ages. There really is no excuse for leagues to need this long to go from start to finish especially as the tail end clashes with the two biggest TV draws in sports every two years. Basketball, at least as long as I am breathing, is never going to overtake soccer in terms of global appeal and that’s ok because nobody else is either. What basketball needs to do is ensure that it doesn’t hurt itself by letting soccer’s two biggest tournaments damage the end of every second season.
Finishing earlier is the obvious solution but it isn’t straightforward. With the ongoing civil war, FIBA’s calendar changes, and the calendar demands of Euroleague it’s tough to get a post-season rolling out all that early but all of these issues can be overcome without too much difficulty (yes even the civil war) and it’s long past time that leagues actually collaborated with Euroleague over the calendar at the business end of proceedings.
In the interim, best of luck trying to watch everything while your buddies are shouting about soccer.