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Would one-game weekends improve the BBL?

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Would one-game weekends improve the BBL?

Although the Christmas break is almost upon us, the fixture list in the second half of the season always presents greater challenges – so, last week, we asked – would the BBL be better if clubs only had to play one game per weekend?

Although the Christmas break is almost upon us, the fixture list in the second half of the season always presents greater challenges – so, last week, we asked – would the BBL be better if clubs only had to play one game per weekend?

For fans of football and rugby, playing twice over a weekend is incomprehensible, yet in basketball and ice hockey, for instance, teams regularly play twice over the weekend, as they look to fulfil demanding fixture lists.

Naturally, after a tough game on the Friday night, it’s always going to be harder to pick yourself up for a Saturday night game, than it would be if it was a stand alone game. But is there anything that can be done about it?

If basketball wants to retain its professional status, then clubs need to maximise the revenue opportunities available to them. If this means playing at home every single week, then it needs to happen. But looking at it from the other angle, can fans afford to pay to watch every single week?

@dougytheeagle on Twitter: “disagree, would be 1 long season if it was 1 game a week, could clubs afford with not havin a home game near enough every week?”

@PhilSee on Twitter: “Fixtures need sorting. Games on consecutive days difficult, also Mersey Tigers have played at home last six Fridays – expensive!”

I think we all agree that it’s not feasible for clubs to play just one game a week throughout the season. But is there scope to introduce midweek fixtures?

Maybe basketball could become a “Thursday night thing” and teams could play Thursday-Sunday each weekend. The most local games to each team could be played on the midweek nights, with longer travels taking place on the Sunday.

Chadwick9 on Twitter: “I think 2 games is sometimes a good thing however I think they should not have someone play in Plymouth and then Newcastle etc”

Perhaps another way around it would be to double-up away games – so, Plymouth should play Newcastle and Durham away in the same weekend, to minimise their travelling costs, and also help the players’ recovery. It becomes an issue when a team is expected to play in Newcastle and then travel down to Plymouth a few nights after.

Is quality a priority? Or is it more of a case that sustainability will always take precedence over quality. With sustainability, quality can come naturally.

CarsonWishart on Twitter: “Worcester Wolves’ Sherrard Prezzie-Blue says he finds the two-game weekend physically tough, but the players have to deal with it.”

Dempers88 on Twitter: “One game a week would mean better quality games….. less fatigue, better recovery, and better physical and mental preparation.”

So, consensus there is one game per weekend would help increase quality, but generally, it is not feasible for clubs to do that, especially as it would extend the season even further, which would rack up further costs for the clubs, such as travel, accommodation, player wages etc.

Are teams struggling with two games a weekend anyway?

Rofticelli on Twitter says: “If you look at the stats the only team struggling with two games in a weekend is the Heat, who haven’t won this season anyway.”

There’s even the argument that players would prefer more games, rather than simply a week full of practice.

Proud_Geordie_ on Twitter says: “I’m sure the players in #theBBL would prefer more games then practice even though the back to back games are tough.”

Another interesting point is that of rented arenas. Sometimes, clubs are held to ransom by their landlords and can only play on certain nights, or maybe can only afford to play a certain number of games due to the costs.

Chadwick9 on Twitter says: “I think once teams have their own venues (or reduced rental) they will be able to afford a busier schedule.”

And it seems that venues could be what prevents any midweek experiments.

BasketballViews on Twitter adds: “As much as one game week would be nice – better would be a mid-week game + a weekend game. They do it elsewhere.(I know, no venues)”

So while back-to-back game nights isn’t ideal, it doesn’t appear that there is a feasible solution – not at this stage anyway. What do you think? Add your comments below.

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. observer

    13th December 2011 at 2:44 pm

    1. clubs already schedule back to backs on the road (see rocks at worcester/plymouth this weekend or plymouth at newcastle/durham 3 weeks ago.). Its actually preferable to doing two separate trips weeks apart.

    2. Schoolnight games would bring a massive drop off in attendance. Would hit one of the BBLs core markets. Not financially feasible.

    3. A number of clubs take christmas off. If they chose to play through it would ameliorate fixture congestion. They cant have it both ways.

    4. Leicesters newcastle-plymouth weekend was only because it was a re-arranged cup semi final and Leicester had already committed to having 18 days off between Dec 10-Dec 28. If they had been willing to play in between then they would not have had that schedule. Again, cant have it both ways.

    5. Sep 1 – April 22 is approximately 34 weeks : the minimum games each team will play in that time is 35 (30 league. 4 trophy, 1 cup). Two legged semi finals make good teams busier. The clubs this year got a 4 week pre-season which they could cut down on if they wanted to spread fixtures out further.

    It really is not that unworkable from a playing standpoint. the BJ league in Japan plays double headers every week and 50 league games in less time.

    The only real issue is when schedule skews balance (ie one team has a week off before a game whilst another team plays the night before) : but that happens in all sports (see kenny Dalglish recent complaints) and tends to balance out.

  2. observer

    13th December 2011 at 2:44 pm

    1. clubs already schedule back to backs on the road (see rocks at worcester/plymouth this weekend or plymouth at newcastle/durham 3 weeks ago.). Its actually preferable to doing two separate trips weeks apart.

    2. Schoolnight games would bring a massive drop off in attendance. Would hit one of the BBLs core markets. Not financially feasible.

    3. A number of clubs take christmas off. If they chose to play through it would ameliorate fixture congestion. They cant have it both ways.

    4. Leicesters newcastle-plymouth weekend was only because it was a re-arranged cup semi final and Leicester had already committed to having 18 days off between Dec 10-Dec 28. If they had been willing to play in between then they would not have had that schedule. Again, cant have it both ways.

    5. Sep 1 – April 22 is approximately 34 weeks : the minimum games each team will play in that time is 35 (30 league. 4 trophy, 1 cup). Two legged semi finals make good teams busier. The clubs this year got a 4 week pre-season which they could cut down on if they wanted to spread fixtures out further.

    It really is not that unworkable from a playing standpoint. the BJ league in Japan plays double headers every week and 50 league games in less time.

    The only real issue is when schedule skews balance (ie one team has a week off before a game whilst another team plays the night before) : but that happens in all sports (see kenny Dalglish recent complaints) and tends to balance out.

  3. Ville

    13th December 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Of course long distance travel away games are reasonable in BBL budgets for the teams – (as mentioned Plymouth playing Durham/Newcastle same weekend).

    For me the constant argument in this country is that games can’t be played during the week is just growing a little tiring, there are professional leagues elsewhere that draw 5000 fans whether the game is on Tuesday or on Sunday.. perhaps it is a cultural thing that weekday games are seen as ‘impossibilities’.
    This type of games only at weekend caters very much for the 9 to 5 crowd, who have weekends off – but could this also reduce the amount of traveling supporters in BBL. Let’s say you have Saturday/Sunday off from work.. you go to your teams game on Saturday evening at home.. would you then travel to an away game on Sunday – thus spending your whole weekend on this??
    Yes, I accept that traveling to an away game from Plymouth to Glasgow on Wednesday evening is not the best for fans – but if we are honest, there are only few teams who have significant away support in BBL these days.

    One key point is the venues – as far as I know, only MK Lions own their own venue (???) – so teams that have their home venue set for Saturday are the ones who ‘suffer’ the most in BBL. As their double-header weekends will always include Friday-Saturday or Saturday-Sunday games.. Where are if your home date is Friday or Sunday.. you have more of a chance to get a day in between.
    So until teams can be more free to schedule their home games – things will always remain difficult in the BBL.

    That’s just something to chew on.. I am sure I’ll be back to comment more later 😉

  4. Ville

    13th December 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Of course long distance travel away games are reasonable in BBL budgets for the teams – (as mentioned Plymouth playing Durham/Newcastle same weekend).

    For me the constant argument in this country is that games can’t be played during the week is just growing a little tiring, there are professional leagues elsewhere that draw 5000 fans whether the game is on Tuesday or on Sunday.. perhaps it is a cultural thing that weekday games are seen as ‘impossibilities’.
    This type of games only at weekend caters very much for the 9 to 5 crowd, who have weekends off – but could this also reduce the amount of traveling supporters in BBL. Let’s say you have Saturday/Sunday off from work.. you go to your teams game on Saturday evening at home.. would you then travel to an away game on Sunday – thus spending your whole weekend on this??
    Yes, I accept that traveling to an away game from Plymouth to Glasgow on Wednesday evening is not the best for fans – but if we are honest, there are only few teams who have significant away support in BBL these days.

    One key point is the venues – as far as I know, only MK Lions own their own venue (???) – so teams that have their home venue set for Saturday are the ones who ‘suffer’ the most in BBL. As their double-header weekends will always include Friday-Saturday or Saturday-Sunday games.. Where are if your home date is Friday or Sunday.. you have more of a chance to get a day in between.
    So until teams can be more free to schedule their home games – things will always remain difficult in the BBL.

    That’s just something to chew on.. I am sure I’ll be back to comment more later 😉

  5. Rob S

    13th December 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Not necessarily on this topic, but related – the ideal would be a (say) 16 team league giving 30 league games and getting rid of the Trophy. Do we really need two seperate cup competitions? That would give much more stability to the schedule and cause fewer re-arrangements.

    It would be nice to think that midweek games would not cause a massive drop off in crowds but I tend to agree with Observer. It would be nice if the BBL had a core audience that didn’t rely so much on school children, but that is probably one for another time…

  6. Rob S

    13th December 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Not necessarily on this topic, but related – the ideal would be a (say) 16 team league giving 30 league games and getting rid of the Trophy. Do we really need two seperate cup competitions? That would give much more stability to the schedule and cause fewer re-arrangements.

    It would be nice to think that midweek games would not cause a massive drop off in crowds but I tend to agree with Observer. It would be nice if the BBL had a core audience that didn’t rely so much on school children, but that is probably one for another time…

  7. Ville

    13th December 2011 at 5:11 pm

    One age group that is really lacking (from my own observations) in big numbers is the teen-age group..
    I remember when I was at school, from age 10 upwards.. (and lived in Finland).
    I traveled an hour on the bus to to see the team I supported – and I got back home from mid-week games around 10.30/11pm.. and as long as I got up to go to school the following morning.. didn’t hear any complaints from my parents.

    But I am not saying that weekend games should be totally removed – but in my non-expert view, mid-week games probably might even open up more venues for the clubs??

    Maybe the ‘fear’ of mid-week games is, as said before, a cultural thing.. even the mighty football clubs tend to shy away from them.

    Then again – IF basketball could be seen as a game that is played at mid-week..when not much else is happening in sporting world, would that possibly open up opportunities in getting the sport covered a bit more in national press (OK – now I have gone Cloud Cuu-Cuu Land 🙂 )

    I do understand that school kids do play a big part in supporting the BBL clubs financially – and even have heard at a game a comment ‘that’s what pays our bills’ – when talking about school kids..

  8. Ville

    13th December 2011 at 5:11 pm

    One age group that is really lacking (from my own observations) in big numbers is the teen-age group..
    I remember when I was at school, from age 10 upwards.. (and lived in Finland).
    I traveled an hour on the bus to to see the team I supported – and I got back home from mid-week games around 10.30/11pm.. and as long as I got up to go to school the following morning.. didn’t hear any complaints from my parents.

    But I am not saying that weekend games should be totally removed – but in my non-expert view, mid-week games probably might even open up more venues for the clubs??

    Maybe the ‘fear’ of mid-week games is, as said before, a cultural thing.. even the mighty football clubs tend to shy away from them.

    Then again – IF basketball could be seen as a game that is played at mid-week..when not much else is happening in sporting world, would that possibly open up opportunities in getting the sport covered a bit more in national press (OK – now I have gone Cloud Cuu-Cuu Land 🙂 )

    I do understand that school kids do play a big part in supporting the BBL clubs financially – and even have heard at a game a comment ‘that’s what pays our bills’ – when talking about school kids..

  9. observer

    13th December 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Rob S : clubs generally say they need 18 home games to make ends meet. A 16 team league with only home and away would make scheduling a lot easier, everyone appreciates that and indeed I think BBL officials have previously indicated that it is what they are looking at in the future. Add in Leopards. Manc, Brum and maybe London and we are closer than the BBL ever has been to a sustainable 15/16 team league : would prob still need a pre season trophy to make numbers meet though.

    Ville : There have never been big away crowds in the BBL. Probably more people travel away now than ever before. Also clubs have tried Tues and Wed games, the takings and gates are invariably down even in games between the top teams. As for venues a club really needs to concentrate on building a relationship with one venue, swapping venues just confuses fans and does not breed a good relationship with the venues.

    Midweek will not help national press : competing with champions league. late deadlines etc. Too late a finish for the next days paper, no longer news by the following day. Guildfords european attendances (v poor except for badalona) are the most recent example of that.

    that said the point about teenagers is a good one albeit that is the exact same culture that football has amongst teenagers in this country and that is not changing overnight!

  10. observer

    13th December 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Rob S : clubs generally say they need 18 home games to make ends meet. A 16 team league with only home and away would make scheduling a lot easier, everyone appreciates that and indeed I think BBL officials have previously indicated that it is what they are looking at in the future. Add in Leopards. Manc, Brum and maybe London and we are closer than the BBL ever has been to a sustainable 15/16 team league : would prob still need a pre season trophy to make numbers meet though.

    Ville : There have never been big away crowds in the BBL. Probably more people travel away now than ever before. Also clubs have tried Tues and Wed games, the takings and gates are invariably down even in games between the top teams. As for venues a club really needs to concentrate on building a relationship with one venue, swapping venues just confuses fans and does not breed a good relationship with the venues.

    Midweek will not help national press : competing with champions league. late deadlines etc. Too late a finish for the next days paper, no longer news by the following day. Guildfords european attendances (v poor except for badalona) are the most recent example of that.

    that said the point about teenagers is a good one albeit that is the exact same culture that football has amongst teenagers in this country and that is not changing overnight!

  11. Ville

    13th December 2011 at 8:04 pm

    Observer: You do probably have lots more BBL knowledge than I could ever dream of (not saying you are old or anythign 🙂 ) – so your points have more facts to base themselves on.

    The battle for dead-lines is always the same (in any sport at mid-week) – but a 6pm/6.30pm tip-off.. plenty of time to get material to the newspapers, although – first you need to get reporters to the BBL games.

    Teen-age culture over here does not seem to include so much of the going to support a sports team as it might do elsewhere (or maybe I just think of the good old days of my youth) – but I can remember going to games with kids of my age and quite often it was the younger fans who generated the Fan Clubs and atmosphere at the games, not the middle-age supporters.

    The point I was trying to make about the venues was not that teams should swap venues every other season or anything like that.. just that more teams should OWN their own venues, thus making many things a whole lot easier. Some clubs in BBL have a fair few miles between their games venue and practice venue, and times being limited to when there is an empty spot.
    The financial outlay to establish your own venue is more than likely outside the BBL teams budget – but in the long run such investment would surely benefit the sport/club/league?

    This debate probably raises more questions than gives answers… but imho it is a good discussion to have.

  12. Ville

    13th December 2011 at 8:04 pm

    Observer: You do probably have lots more BBL knowledge than I could ever dream of (not saying you are old or anythign 🙂 ) – so your points have more facts to base themselves on.

    The battle for dead-lines is always the same (in any sport at mid-week) – but a 6pm/6.30pm tip-off.. plenty of time to get material to the newspapers, although – first you need to get reporters to the BBL games.

    Teen-age culture over here does not seem to include so much of the going to support a sports team as it might do elsewhere (or maybe I just think of the good old days of my youth) – but I can remember going to games with kids of my age and quite often it was the younger fans who generated the Fan Clubs and atmosphere at the games, not the middle-age supporters.

    The point I was trying to make about the venues was not that teams should swap venues every other season or anything like that.. just that more teams should OWN their own venues, thus making many things a whole lot easier. Some clubs in BBL have a fair few miles between their games venue and practice venue, and times being limited to when there is an empty spot.
    The financial outlay to establish your own venue is more than likely outside the BBL teams budget – but in the long run such investment would surely benefit the sport/club/league?

    This debate probably raises more questions than gives answers… but imho it is a good discussion to have.

  13. Della

    14th December 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Experience has shown us that mid-week games have a lower attendance. But that’s always going to be the case when you throw in one mid-week game a couple of times a season. A consistent Thursday night game might take a few months to get the crowds in, but once people got used to going to basketball on a Thursday night it might pick up. It’s a risk. But is it one worth taking?

    Part of the problem with the BBL is it’s target audience. Kids grow up. If you target the kids then they’re going to grow out of it. Target teens/adults and you have potential life-long fans. I know that argument doesn’t work for everyone. I was about 13 when I started going to games, but I did stop for a while in my late teens. I doubt I would have started going again if my family weren’t still going. My 16 year old brother has stopped going. Basketball is something he did as a kid, he’s grown out of it. Hopefully he’ll come back. But basketball shouldn’t really be something you can grow out of.

    The mid-week game in MK the other week was emptier than usual. But the atmosphere wasn’t bad. The adults where there, but the kids were missing. New (adult) fans are not going to take the game seriously if there’s a load of kids running around.

    I have said in the past that London clubs need a mid-week fixture. The same goes for other major cities. There is too much to compete with at the weekend. With mid-week you can target the after work crowd. You really don’t need to worry about the kids..how much money do they bring in anyway!?
    I would love to have one game mid-week and one at the weekend. I spend my entire winter weekends at basketball, rarely see my friends, I’m surprised they’ll still around in the summer!

  14. Gillian

    14th December 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Just a thought but Sunday matches may attract more away fans if earlier in the day…eg 3pm like Guildford

  15. Gillian

    14th December 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Just a thought but Sunday matches may attract more away fans if earlier in the day…eg 3pm like Guildford

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