NBA playoffs are caught in AFN time crunch
May 6, 2007
On Thursday night in California, the eighth-seeded Golden State Warriors, the Cinderella story of the NBA postseason, knocked off the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in Game 6 of what espn.com called “the most entertaining series in the playoffs.”
Airman 1st Class Taylor Caesar didn’t catch the upset. He was asleep in his dorm at RAF Mildenhall, England. The game was shown on American Forces Network in the middle of the night.
Make no mistake, the Louisiana native would like to watch more NBA playoff action. But with much of the first round generally not being re-aired on AFN, and games played at night in the States, his options are limited.
“I can’t stay up too late to watch it,” said Caesar, a Lakers fan whose first duty station is Mildenhall. “I did once, but it kind of hurt the next day.”
He’s probably not alone. While AFN rebroadcasts football games during the fall and gives viewers plenty of baseball, the NBA playoffs have been largely absent from AFN so far, with games not re-aired during a time when European military personnel are awake.
But NBA diehards need not fret, as the ball will soon be in their court. AFN will be able to provide more rebroadcasts of the conference finals and championship round as the playoffs continue, Tim Mattox, sports chief for AFN, wrote last week in an e-mail.
The length of the NBA playoffs — the eventual champs will have to beat four teams in four best-of-seven series — adds up to an “incredible amount of hours” to broadcast, Mattox said. In the playoffs, there can be from 64 to 112 games played.
So far, Mattox said, AFN-Sports has managed to provide six rebroadcasts of NBA first-round games. There just isn’t enough space for all the sporting events people want to see, he said, and there are other interests to consider.
“When you factor in a few baseball games, NASCAR, multiple open wheel racing series, [National Hot Rod Association] drags and motorcycles, extensive coverage of the NFL Draft, horse racing, [Major League Soccer], outdoor programming, tennis, Arena Football, NFL-Europe, title fights, WWE and the UFC, up to four days of PGA Golf events, rodeo, dozens of sports talk, pre-game/post-game, highlights and magazine shows, I think you get the idea,” he wrote.
Devoting airtime to April baseball in favor of NBA rebroadcasts didn’t sit right with Air Force Staff Sgt. Joshua Thompson of Mildenhall, an avowed Phoenix Suns fan. “They play baseball forever,” he said.
AFN is not averse to change, Mattox wrote. It changed its policy on re-airing the NFL’s Sunday night and Monday night games in direct response to audience requests from around the world.
Senior Airman Justin Reinhart, a recent arrival to Mildenhall, said it would be better if AFN re-aired more of the NBA playoffs, but his buddy, Senior Airman Steve Wright, said that hardcore hoops fanatics can get their fix via the Internet or on ESPN’s SportsCenter, a staple of the AFN-Sports broadcasting day.
And there’s always the option of staying up late or getting up early for that can’t-miss game.
Air Force Master Sgt. Wayne Gordon, a Chicago native who is rooting for the Bulls, said a little sleep deprivation is worth it.
“I’ll watch in the middle of the night if I have to,” he said.
Want to let American Forces Network know how you feel about its programming? Log on to www.myafn.net, click on e-mail and complete an audience feedback form.