From there, FOX Sports asked the fans via social media for their feedback and suggestions. We then, selected some of the fans’ ideas and I added my thoughts.
Below are seven “burning issues” the PBA faces this season under first-year commissioner Chito Narvasa.
Cheaper tickets especially general admission
A lot of fans feel that current ticket prices are too expensive for their liking.
Current prices for the Governor’s Cup elimination round starts at PhP120 (General Admission) up to PhP620 (Patron C) for a single ticket.
Of course, most fans want to watch closer to the court and be able to see their favorite players up close, too, so paying more for better seats should be expected. For example, a fan watching in the lower box section would pay at least PhP320, exclusive of food and drinks.
Thus, spending PhP500 or more because you want to eat is just too, pricey for the public. There’s also the parking fee, the price of gas or the fare used for your trip to the arena.
Let’s face it, the price of admission is getting too expensive for the average fan that the PBA should be targeting.
Today, the PBA is trying to sell tickets by bundles (buy 1 take 1, etc.) which is a good start, but a better and cheaper option might be to sell a single ticket that is way cheaper. Some fans would love it if the PBA offered PhP50 for General Admission or even have game day promos like half price for all sections. This might work best for weekday games and games for less popular teams.
Improve officiating and revise foul calls
Officiating will always be a point of criticism and missed calls will always be part of the game.
You see a lot of coaches and players getting warnings and technical fouls because of their constant complaining. Part of the reason is their unfamiliarity with rule changes and/or inconsistent calls by the refs. Sure, human error and honest mistakes can happen. However, referees cannot be substandard in their performance. Their training and preparation should be of the utmost importance.
Thus, the league needs to make sure that officiating is a top priority.
The PBA needs to conduct more seminars, classes, workshops and training sessions to improve the quality of their officials. Maybe bringing in someone from the NBA to teach and conduct learning sessions might be a solution. Maybe the PBA should have more rigid ways of assessing the skill level of a referee.
At the same time, the league should constantly educate and remind the coaches and players what rules have been modified and what are the reasons behind it. This is to minimize misunderstandings and misinterpretations of certain rules.
A lot of teams are having difficulties understanding what a foul is or is not. Which screen is legal or illegal? Is there a need for a deliberate foul call? Is the “landing zone” foul worthy of a flagrant foul designation?
No more farm teams and sister teams
PBA teams are owned by corporations and businesses. Owners have their names or products on the jerseys. Thus, competing brands are not allowed to join the rest of the PBA.
For example, since Mahindra/Kia is in the PBA, other car manufacturers/distributors are barred from joining the PBA.
Instead, sister teams are allowed to join because they are owned by the same company. Therefore, brand competition does not really exist between sister teams.
There’s also the notion that sister teams like Ginebra and SMB or TNT and Meralco, go easy on each other because they are owned by one major corporation. There’s also the wrong assumption that sister teams play to a preassigned score or result.
Aside from that, smaller teams or “poorer” franchises are having a difficult time matching with the richer teams in terms of salary, bonuses and perks. Thus, the richer teams are able to accumulate better talent and trade for better players or superstars.
No wonder, “farm teams” are becoming a thing in the league. True or not, these misconceptions are hurting the image and integrity of the PBA.
Therefore, some fans are suggesting that sister teams be disallowed so that more franchises can join the PBA. They also want competing brands/companies to be allowed to play in league. In that case, talent might be spread out more evenly and more rivalries might be created. For example, doesn’t it sound more interesting if a team owned by Globe Telecom plays against TNT? How about Tanduay vs. SMB? Or Mahindra vs Toyota?
Bring in fantasy leagues
In the NBA, a lot of their fans (including myself) play fantasy basketball. This is a website or app that allows the fan to draft players from different teams, then these drafted players are added to his personal team which will battle against other fantasy basketball teams.
Some sites like Yahoo Sports and NBA.com have free versions of this while others like Draft Kings and Fan Duel offer this for a fee because these sites offer betting lines and provide cash prizes.
Did you know that the PBA has an official fantasy league? It is called PBA Fantasy Basketball (www.pbafantasy.com) and can be downloaded on Android or IOS. Honestly, I’m not sure when this started because I only found out about this a week ago. I think it is fairly new.
PBA Fantasy uses real money and it is apparently a legal site/app where you have to pay fees/funds to create fantasy teams and you can win money prizes. I guess you can think of it as online gambling of sorts. I’m not sure how similar it is to Draft Kings or Fan Duel because I haven’t signed up. And if I’m not mistaken, PBA Fantasy does not offer free games like Yahoo Sports, so a lot of fans may not be keen on betting money to play.
In any case, the PBA should promote this app more and offer free games.
Campus tours, charity events and community involvement
If you visit the campuses these days, most students are able to name more NBA players than PBA players. Chances are, if the PBA player has not played for Gilas Pilipinas, a young student would have no idea
I think PBA players rarely do school tours in Metro Manila. It is also possible that PBA players hardly participate in charity events nor do they involve themselves in the community that much.
There could be a clause in their contracts that prevent them from doing public appearances. If that is the case, I wish that PBA teams would amend that.
I know that some players attend events promoted by their teams or companies for the purpose of selling or endorsing products.
Sometimes, teams also hold parties and events for their fans. That’s great and all but the PBA needs new fans who are also young and impressionable. Why can’t the fans of the NBA be fans of the PBA as well?
The NBA has a program called NBA Cares where players participate in community services, tackle social issues and raise awareness.
NBA players go to schools, visit hospitals and orphanages and travel to other countries to spread their messages of goodwill and raise money for charity. The PBA can do similar acts like these to become more in touch with the community.
Actually, the PBA has an NBA Cares counterpart or the Alagang PBA. Have you heard about this? Probably not, because even someone like me, an avid follower of the PBA, is not aware that our professional league has Alagang PBA.
I have no idea why the league has not intensified this program. Maybe they hold low-key events or closed door activities. That’s fine and well, but the league needs to make their players more visible to the students and the public.
The pro league need to build a bigger and wider fan base. Thus, Alagang PBA needs to have more events and they need to market their players and programs more.
PBA’s tension with SBP and Gilas
Apparently, one of the reasons why some people no longer watch games can be connected to the underwhelming performance of Gilas Pilipinas in the recent FIBA OQT.
Based on the opinions of some fans’, most PBA teams don’t “willingly lend” their players to the national team. Some players seemed to get “injured” during Gilas’ preparation or they are simply not allowed by their mother ball clubs. Thus, without the best players in the PH team, Gilas fails to get the much-needed support it needed from the PBA to prepare properly for international tournaments.
Overall, fans are not happy with some PBA teams because they do not prioritize Gilas. For fans, the only way they can show their displeasure is by boycotting the PBA so that team owners and the league will somewhat feel the hurt and pain at the box office or TV ratings.Can the PBA do something about this? Yes. And it begins by modifying guidelines (or rules) when it comes to playing for the country. Bayan bago ang sarili. Bayan bago ang pera.
Change the leadership
Finally, some fans cited the off-court issues (or scandals) that have hounded the PBA front office as the main reason why fans have stayed away from the game.
They blame the Office of the Commissioner for failing to uphold the integrity of the league. Thus, the fans are disappointed and turned off with the PBA.
There are those who want a new commissioner that will clean up the executive board and replace their top officials.
As a summary, there were actually more suggestions and comments from well-meaning fans.
The league should take that as a positive sign even if most comments had negative tones. At least, the fans show concern for Asia’s first-ever professional league and are interested to see the PBA thrive beyond 4 decades. The hard part is when no one cares anymore.
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