Slant Pattern Holiday Odds and Ends

* I have to wonder when was the last time there was such a dearth of American major sports activity as there was on December 24th, 2019: no NBA, no college basketball, no NHL or NFL, and one lone college football bowl game. There wasn't even any European soccer. Gambling degenerates everywhere were trying to bone up on Israeli soccer just to get their fix.

* Today, of course, we have the usual helping of quintuple-header NBA action and the final round of the Diamond Head classic on the college basketball slate.

Both have been playing on Christmas for years now, so this made me wonder: do any other (predominately Christmas-celebrating) nations play major sports on holidays?

Step up, Bolivia! They alone have a full slate of soccer today and they seem to be the only Christian nation to have any such slate. There are a smattering of basketball games being played in Europe on Christmas, too, so it seems other carolers and revelers take a more strictly-basketball page out of the American's Christmas sports book.

Lots of Russian hockey on Christmas, as well, in the league that's probably the best in the world save the NHL, but it turns out they aren't celebrating Christmas in Russia on Dec. 25 — that will be January 7th. The Russian Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar, you see.

Other than that, I'm seeing two things: a volleyball match in the top Italian league, and baseball being played in the highest levels in Mexico and Cuba. One of Cuba's baseball games started at 9 AM local. Christmas morning live sports — what a concept!

* Please, please, please no with this NBA midseason tournament nonsense. I say this as a guy who generally likes nonsense, expanded playoffs, experimentation, and tournaments galore.

The problem is, the players aren't going to care. They can't even be arsed to care about the FIBA World Cup, which is a world championship and only happens every four years. The $1 million player bonus is only a meaningful amount to end-of-benchers, who is exactly who will be getting the bulk of the playing time in these tournaments as stars rest or suffer from dubious injuries. All of this means the fans won't care, either.

Why does the NBA need such a dramatic overhaul, anyway? Is the league in some sort of dying free-fall I haven't heard about?

The general public does not like drastic changes to sports. Sure, you can slowly over years add more and more teams to a playoff, and the public will happily go along. But we can't even get a viable spring football league off the ground, and we love nothing like we love football.

Maybe slow changes are the key here: instead of a midseason tournament, have a one-game mid-season championship between the best record holder from the East and West. Give the winning conference home-court advantage in the NBA Finals. Then, over time, make it a whole tournament. But to introduce it that way? Dumb idea.

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