Why the NBA is thriving and the NFL is struggling | Covering the Intersections of Race, Culture, Sexuality, and Fashion | 48min Why the NBA is thriving and the NFL is struggling | Covering the Intersections of Race, Culture, Sexuality, and Fashion | 48min

Why the NBA is thriving and the NFL is struggling

After the golden age of the NBA in the 1980s, the NBA continued to grow in the decades after but has thrived even more the last 10 years or so. So why is the NBA growing while the NFL continues to stumble? We look at several potential reasons.

POPULARITY The easiest answer is that the popularity of basketball is growing worldwide with the NBA as the most well-known professional league while the NFL and American football only popular within the borders of the United States. It also helps significantly that Basketball is an Olympic sport while American football is not.

TECHNOLOGY As the most-popular league representing the sport of basketball, the NBA is no doubt the most technologically-adept league of all the professional leagues in the United States, but maybe in the entire world. That allows the NBA to not only rely on instagram and facebook, NBATV, apps for NBA Finals betting, but streaming services, virtual reality, in-store experiences for autistic children, data analytics and more. It’s just no comparison.

Yes, the NFL might have social media presence, or some companies have the best football betting apps, but when it comes to its league, players and organizations, no league has taken to technology and advancement like the NBA has. That means more exposure and engagement after the game; i.e. they get in front of more people.

SOCIAL PROGRESS The NBA hasn’t just recently been a progressive league, but they’ve been the most-diverse league of all U.S.-based professional sports leagues. Not just in their players, but coaching, staff and administration in terms of race and gender. The league has scored an “A” grade in terms of diversive hiring for many consecutive years.

While the NFL has struggled on how to respond to their players kneeling during the national anthem in response to police brutality, the NBA has mostly embraced the importance of the players they represent as many players wore t-shirts in reference to Black Lives Matter. In terms of gender equality, the NBA introduced female referees decades ago and Becky Hammon became the first female assistant coach in the league. Though they have room to grow, the league has also improved their roles in LGBTQ issues, mental health and finance management for their players.

CULTURAL IMPACT Somewhat related to their stances on social issues, NBA players took a restrictive dress policy implemented in the 1990s and turned it into their own fashion showcase. Before and after games, NBA players are now impacting the world of into fashion as players now influencing design houses . And ever since Michael Jordan released his first Air Jordans with Nike, the NBA turned all that a multi-billion dollar industry where basketball shoes in multiple colorways are obsessions, statements, and collectibles.

And that’s only the short list why the NBA is growing in numbers and impact as opposed to the NFL. The way things are headed, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the NBA became America’s Past Time surpassing the NFL and Major League Baseball.

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