I would like to get back into the NBA, but I don’t know how.

There was a time in my life where the NBA was a key component of my personality. From roughly 2005 to 2009, I could list off most of the starting five players for most teams in the league and was personally invested in the performance of some of the league’s biggest stars. This trivia, and the flimsy-yet-tightly-held opinions it helped me form, was more or less how I had friends in middle school.

Eventually my interest and enthusiasm dwindled and from my high school years until now, the NBA has only been something I hear about when a story or player breaks through as a larger pop culture phenomenon. I feel like I roughly understand who James Harden is as a player and icon in the league, and I’m aware that Lebron James has taken his talents to Los Angeles (without so much as a television special this time).

Now I find myself, for the first time in years, desiring to know about what’s happening in the NBA. This might be because the league, with its “bubble” approach to minimizing the risk of Covid-transmission, is one of the few pieces of popular culture that found a way to adapt and continue during the pandemic. For better or worse, it was one of the few things that moved forward last summer while the rest of the world stood still.

With a new season underway (albeit without a “bubble” approach), I have the opportunity to engage with the NBA again, but knowing how to do that in 2021 is difficult. TV is in a strange place overall, with traditional cable packages or satellite TV falling out of favor compared to the smorgasbord of streaming options. During the period of time that I was invested in the NBA, I lived with my parents and had access to Dish satellite TV. A large part of watching TV then was tuning into whatever was on at the time I sat down to watch, which meant I spent time watching games and sports news programs simply because it was there at the same time I was. Now, my TV watching is deliberate— when I sit down, I know what I’m going to watch and I know what streamable archive it’s going to come from. 

I’m guessing I could upgrade a streaming platform to give me access to live sporting events or find podcasts or streams of sports news programs to keep in step with what’s happening in the NBA. But that type of deliberation seems antithetical to how I learned how to engage with sports. There was an ambiance in watching Sports Center simply because it was there, and the inertia towards “sports fandom” it created felt undetectable and natural. 

Cable and live channel packages still exist, so if I really wanted to create TV habits that resemble the ones I formed as a kid, I could. But after years of watching dramas, comedies, and miniseries archived or released on streaming services, it’s hard to change the channel.

2 Comments

  1. Gwyneth Findlay

    I have similar feelings about the NHL every few months. I miss the clutter of noise and commentary, but as you say, I’m not sure how to even start watching again. I also feel like part of the joy of sports fandom was sharing it with people—classmates, my dad, people on tumblr, whatever—and those communities don’t feel as accessible anymore.

    Reply
  2. Kyric Koning

    Ah yes. The waffling between, “I could watch this…or this.” So many options can sometimes be paralyzing. Nothing wrong with a little deliberation, though.

    Reply

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