— If Mariah Freda’s experience is any indication, the NBA lockout may be giving women across the country more chance for romance.
Freda and boyfriend Dan Spiegel have been going to the movies or making dinner together during time slots that were previously reserved for Spiegel’s seasonal wife: basketball. “Dan is more likely to stay with me at my apartment if he doesn't feel like he'd be missing a basketball game,” said Freda, a 27-year-old acting student in New York.
She adds that she is “secretly excited that the NBA might not come back.”
After negotiations between basketball players and NBA officials tanked, it was announced Wednesday that games through Dec. 15 have been canceled — a total of 324 games that won’t happen. And though the two sides may still reach an agreement and start the season late (perhaps as late as February, as they did back in 1999), one thing is certain: The absence of professional basketball on television leaves a void for many.
While the lockout is devastating for basketball fans, it is a welcome respite for others. And by others, we mean the people that like to spend time with otherwise-occupied basketball fans.
The response from many fans' significant others? Thank you, NBA.
More hanging out
Laura Govan, star of the VH1 series “Basketball Wives L.A.” and fiancee of NBA player Gilbert Arenas, says that her 10-year relationship with Arenas has been noticeably different from previous NBA seasons.
"When he's playing basketball, I only use him for sex," she joked. "Now, we're doing a lot of hanging out with the children and spending a lot of time together. We go to dinners and movies, cuddle and get a lot of one-on-one time." She even gets to play the role of teammate, nowadays. "We play basketball at the Y together."
Even male basketball fans seem to be enjoying the extra time with their significant others — if only for the moment.
"The lockout will probably lead to us spending a bit more time together and talking more in the evenings,” said Albert Mayer, a 29-year-old lawyer in Washington, D.C., referring to his girlfriend Leah Bressack, a 29-year-old law clerk. “We have ordered the 'NHL Center Ice' package — my idea — and Leah has obtained DVDs covering several seasons of ‘The Wire’ from the library, so we're coping just fine at the moment."
When asked if the lockout will mean sacrificing precious time that would otherwise be spent with girlfriends or alone, Bressack answered, "That remains to be seen. It all depends on how Albert replaces the NBA in his life,” she said. “For example, if he replaces it by finally getting around to ring-shopping, then we won't have any problems."
If your basketball-loving partner isn't spending time with you the way you want, you just have to be patient, says relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle.
"With the NBA lockout, honeys are being returned to their women almost as it used to be. But he may have forgotten his romantic role over time," she explained. "Be patient with him as he re-learns the art of romance and love. And optimize your time together now, getting him to remember the benefits of your closeness."
A new danger: Football
While many couples have been taking advantage of the lockout’s silver lining, there are indications that the bonding experience may already be fleeting.
"The other day (Dan) insisted on watching the football game, which he has never really been into,” said Freda. “That was an unpleasant surprise."
And although she's happy that the lockout has allowed Arenas to help out more around the house and with their four kids, Govan notes that all that extra time isn't always a good thing. "Sometimes I think to myself, ‘Damn, you need a job. You’re always here!’”
If you want to keep the spark alive once games resume, Carle advises making sure your partner doesn't forget about the closeness you've been experiencing.
"While it would be disrespectful to turn off the tube while he’s watching, you might want to parade by him wearing your skimpiest lingerie — showing him what’s in it for him to be more emotionally present sure beats nagging him for more you-time," she said.
Only time will tell how the NBA season plays out, and how it ultimately affects relationships. Will fans get thinner? After all, there is a correlation between obesity and time spent watching television. Will there be a fertility boom, similar to what happens during low-severity weather events?
Dan Spiegel worries that the lockout may end up having some negative impact on his relationship.
“I will have more time for my girlfriend, but I will be less inspired on a daily basis by my heroes in the NBA,” he said, joking that “this will likely influence my sexual performance.”
However, the sexual setback is balanced by one major concession on Spiegel’s part.
“I will probably watch even more ‘Say Yes to the Dress,’ ” he admitted.