NBA Removing BLM Messaging From Court, Jerseys

NBA Removing BLM Messaging From Court, Jerseys

The NBA will be removing Black Lives Matter messaging from its courts and jerseys. The move comes on the heels of a historically bad Finals TV ratings collapse that surprised many within the league, including Commissioner Adam Silver himself.

When two popular teams in the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat emerged from the Western and Eastern Conferences a few weeks back, most saw it as something that would lift up the league’s struggling TV numbers.

LeBron James plus the world famous Lakers logo plus Miami was supposed to equal some semblance of ratings normalcy.

Needless to say, things haven’t quite worked out as expected on that front.

Prior to Tuesday night’s game, Commissioner Silver acknowledged that the BLM messaging which has adorned the league’s court and jerseys in recent months was not a permanent fixture.

“My sense is there will be some sort of return to normalcy,” he said.

“That those messages will largely be left to be delivered off the floor. And I understand those people who are saying ‘I’m on your side, but I want to watch a basketball game.”

This announcement comes on the heels of a staggering ratings fall.

Game 1 did 7.41 million viewers, the lowest Finals viewership total since 1988. That figure fell further in Games 2 and 3, to 6.6 million and 5.94 million, respectively. Game 4 ticked up to 7.54 million.

“We’re completely committed to standing for social justice and racial equality,” Silver said.

“It’s part of the DNA of this league…I would say in terms of the messages you see on the court on our jerseys, this was an extraordinary moment in time, when we began the discussions with the players and what we all lived through this summer.”

The TV ratings have been down throughout the whole playoffs, so none of this should come as a surprise.

Almost as interesting as the ratings decline has been the general interest deterioration as it pertains to the NBA Finals. A recent analysis showed that Reddit’s very popular r/NBA subreddit is seeing half as many people commenting about this year’s games as last year’s. That is a stunning drop.

Whereas falling TV numbers can be excused by citing changing consumer habits regarding streaming and whatnot, the lack of overall conversation surrounding the Finals among Reddit’s extremely young and very male audience is a bit harder to square away.

A study done towards the beginning of the NBA playoffs, when it was clear that TV ratings were heading the wrong way, asked participants to explain their dwindling interest.

“The league has become too political” took 38 percent of the vote.

Second place went to “Boring without fans,” which got 28 percent of the votes.

Finally, “China” rounded out the top three, with 19 percent of the vote.

Although political and social justice messaging probably isn’t the only reason people are tuning out, obviously the league considers it detrimental to some degree if it is pledging to decrease it going forward.

Thus far, no players have come out to oppose Commissioner Silver’s position. It will be interesting to see whether that continues to be the case.

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Anthony Amador

A graduate from the University of Texas, Anthony Amador has been credentialed to cover the Houston Texans, Dallas Cowboys, San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks and high school games all over the Lone Star State. Currently, his primary beats are the NBA, MLB, NFL and UFC.

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