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Adam Silver considers changing game lengths to tackle an imaginary issue

Photo courtesy of Ashley Landis of the European Pressphoto Agency.

In case you missed Adam Silver’s press conference Thursday, he left us with some memorable information (I’ll bold the important parts). Regarding decreasing the duration of games, Silver stated, “it’s something that I know all of sports are looking at right now, and that is the format of the game and the length of time it takes to play the game. Obviously people, particularly millennials, have increasingly short attention spans, so it’s something as a business we need to pay attention to. … When the last few minutes of the game take an extraordinary amount of time, sometimes it’s incredibly interesting for fans, other times it’s not.”


Sounds good. It’s definitely not the unnecessary parade of advertisements during important moments of the games. In the NBA, and all other levels of basketball, coaches have two options when calling a timeout, thirty seconds or one minute. It’s funny that fans are given two completely different options in the form of two minute or four minute commercial breaks. Add in my personal favorite, “This content is brought to you by *Company*, the official *industry/product* of the NBA,” and we’ve got all the television advertisements covered. Don’t forget, however, the billboards all around the stadiums, or in the MLB – the green screen billboards so that multiple companies can outbid each other for more air time behind the plate!


Commissioner Silver, while I commend you on being wildly more successful and popular than David Stern, you are wrong in your reasoning. Fans understand the Hack-A-Shaq method in the winding minutes of the game. It’s an annoying but legitimate strategy to stage a comeback. The increase in time outs called in those final few minutes is also understandable. Our “increasingly short attention spans” are interrupted by nail biting action … until the advertisements hit. Professional athletes can run a mile in the amount of time it takes for each set of advertisements. The commercialization of American sports is disgustingly ignored.


It’s funny that America has adopted European sports but Europeans hate American sports. Perhaps it’s the fact that in soccer and rugby, the games are continuous and commercial breaks don’t exist. They have to sit through a few ads in between some genuine highlights and analysis (which brings me to another point, does Charles Barkley and Shaq argue over their clothing choices really count as game analysis?), but there’s no endless barrage of mid-game commercials.


Soccer teams do allow sponsors on their jerseys, so American sports have a point on them there (except the WNBA). However, my “short attention span” has no problem sitting through forty-five minutes of soccer. Don’t worry, the MLS and NBC have figured out how to commercialize the forty-five minutes though. Their latest intrusive ad trend is to shrink the size of the game and display an ad around the edges for brief moments throughout the game.
Changing the duration of the game is the “solution” to a non-existing problem. Us millennials just want to enjoy the sports performances and leave the annoying commercials to our iPhone games. No more TV timeouts would be my first demand, and in return I can live with the in-stadiums ads or, hell, even the commentators giving the occasional “brought to you by…” statements. But nothing decreases my millennial attention span than a commercial break at the height of game action. Commissioner Silver, I believe you are confusing causation and correlation, and I can only advise a reevaluation of consideration to shorten the duration of NBA games.

Connor Dolan
Connor is co-founder of First And Fan and head of all website operations. He's a die hard Boston sports fan with a passion for sports, media, and all things David Ortiz.