Australian basketball rises to develop recovery program from COVID-19 impact
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted lives all across the world. Like all sports, Australian basketball has been hit hard. The Tokyo Olympics have been postponed to 2021, a cancellation was announced for the 2019/20 NBL1 season, and NBL players agreed on a pay reduction.
On Friday morning, Australia’s basketball community announced some positive news, with the establishment of a taskforce to tackle the challenges from grassroots to elite competitions caused by the ongoing impact of COVID-19.
Basketball Australia, states and territories, leagues including the NBL, WNBL, NBL1, along with clubs and players have come together to build a comprehensive plan to restart the sport when the pandemic eases.
The taskforce will be led by Basketball Australia chair Ned Coten, together with NBL owner and executive chairman Larry Kestelman, and includes prominent members of the basketball and business communities.
Allan Yates (Basketball ACT), Nicola Ellis (Basketball QLD), Tony Hallam (WNBL Melbourne Boomers), Jacob Holmes (Australian Basketball Players Association), Brian Delaney and Jerril Rechter (Basketball Australia) will represent basketball. They will be joined by independent business figures Ruffy Geminder, Diane Smith-Gander and Rickard Gardell.
“We are very mindful of the millions of Australians doing it tough and, quite rightly, they are the number one priority support right now, particularly those who have lost their jobs and are suffering financial hardship,” Coten shared. “Basketball is not immune to the impact of the COVID-19 and, like the rest of the community, we need to do everything we can to get through these challenging times but also work together to restart the sport when the time is right.
“Basketball is one of Australia’s highest participation sports with over 1.5 million active participants. It is the number one family sport, is incredibly inclusive and diverse and is a source of enjoyment across all levels of the community. Importantly, 38% of our participants are female and we have two of the leading men’s and women’s leagues in the world in the NBL and WNBL.
“The game employs tens of thousands of people across the country and generates significant economic impact as well as a range of health and social benefits for the wider community across both genders and all ages that will be needed more than ever as we recover.”
“Unlike other sports, basketball leagues do not derive the bulk of their revenue from broadcast agreements,” Kestelman said. “With a significant amount of Australian homes now having a basketball hoop in the backyard, the sport can play a crucial role in getting the country active and back to normal, but we need help more than ever.
“Under the restrictions imposed by COVID-19, the sport has come to standstill for now. This includes not just the NBL and WNBL but also Australia’s premier winter league NBL1, the 3x3Hustle and all community and grassroots leagues right around the country. The NBL attracted almost one million people last season and is now widely considered the second- best domestic basketball league in the world after the NBA. We are an entertainment product built for live attendances.
“Unlike other codes, basketball cannot fall back on revenue from television if restrictions are still in place to crowds and would need assistance. We are not seeking special priority but rather simply asking not to be forgotten to ensure we can continue to deliver the sport that we and so many Australians love.”
Details of the initiative are yet to be available, but consultation will be made with all areas of the sport to develop the recovery program for Australian basketball.
Thank you for loving Aussie hoops! From Kein, Damian and #TeamPnR