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Basketball & Britain: The State Of Affairs

Basketball is an incredibly popular sport in several countries. It has a huge following, except in Britain. This is because basketball, as a competitive sport, has never really made that much of an impact in this country. But Britain loves sport; football, rugby and cricket all have a huge following, but basketball has always failed to find its audience. So the question is why, in a country that loves sport, has basketball effectively failed? Keep reading to find out more. 

The History Of Basketball In Britain

Basketball might seem like a relatively new sport, but it has been played in Britain for over a century. CJ Proctor, the president of Birkenhead’s branch of the YMCA, brought the game back with him from a trip to Canada in the late 1800s. Basketball was actually invented in Canada by a PE teacher looking for something for his students to do when it got too cold for them to be outside. In Britain, it enjoyed a steady popularity. Then during the first world war, British soldiers found out more about the game from the allied forces, which led to a renewed interest. The same thing happened as a result of the second world war. However, over time the interest has dwindled. 

Basketball In Britain Today

While it is certainly true that basketball does have some fans in Britain, if you were to ask the layperson to name a team, they would be hard pressed to. Despite this, basketball does have a presence in Britain. There are a number of leagues and even a national team. However, the matches are hardly publicised, and without the right television subscription, you can’t even watch them from home. 

There are eight national teams ranging in age from juniors up to seniors and including both genders. However, in recent years there have been repeated cuts to funding which has jeopardised the future of the game. The teams compete at an international level and have shown some promise winning some accolades in the past, but this simply doesn’t seem to be enough to secure the funding needed. 

In theory, basketball should be an ideal sport for the British. It is played inside, which means that rainy weather would never postpone or cancel a game. It is played a lot in schools and recreationally among kids and teens. The rules are pretty simple, and if it was to be played in stadiums, you could bet that they would definitely serve alcohol. So on paper, it seems pretty ideal.  

A Reluctance To Embrace

There are several reasons why Britain might be reluctant to fully embrace basketball at a professional level. One of the biggest is perhaps how engrained it is in American culture. In all honesty, Brits are willing to embrace a few American exports like media, food trends, celebrities, clothing styles or gambling. A lot of British casinos, both online and off, have obviously been inspired by the gambling mecca: Las Vegas. Online Casinos have the lowdown, so check them out and find the latest free spins casinos here. However, they are far more reluctant to embrace American culture. Brits, for the most part, don’t like Americans. 

Basketball feels incredibly American, and as such, this has had a significant effect on the game. For example, most sports in Britain use a clock that counts up until the match is over; American games use clocks that count down. In addition, overtime rules seem more arbitrary, the game is segmented more into quarters as opposed to halves, but the scoring metrics seem more random and inconsistent. These differences might be enough to mark basketball as different and therefore encourage the unwillingness to embrace it. 

What More Could Be Done?

There are several things that have contributed to the stagnation of basketball in Britain today. First, as mentioned above, it is not publicised really at all, unlike other classic British sports, which already means that it is forced into the backseat. Publicising the sport more could definitely help the British public to get behind the sport more. The channels chosen to publicise the sport would also matter. If the matches were shown on television during a primetime spot, on a channel that everyone has regardless of their television package, like BBC, a lot more people would be able to watch it and get into it. 

Take women’s football as an example. It has only been in recent years that it has really entered the mainstream. You would think that as Britain’s favourite sport, women’s football would have a built-in audience, but the truth is that rampant sexism kept it down for a long time. As a result, it didn’t get the same airtime, and it lacked publicity. In the last few years, it finally started to get the publicity it deserved and the increase in media coverage directly influenced its increase in popularity. If similar tactics were used to promote basketball, it stands to reason that the sport would also enjoy a renewed interest and an increase in popularity. 

Finally, realistically, basketball in Britain is never going to get more popular without the proper funding. Unfortunately, British basketball has been systematically underfunded for years, and this feeds directly into the lack of knowledge about the sport and the disinterest that surrounds it too. Most people are entirely unaware that there is a national team until they watch the Olympics, but unfortunately, team GB never places because they haven’t got the funding, equipment and practice spaces that they need. 

In Summary

It hardly seems surprising that the British don’t have an interest in basketball. Unfortunately, very little effort seems to have been made to bring it to the forefront or ingratiate it into British culture. In that respect, it does seem like basketball in Britain was always doomed to fail. That being said, it is not unredeemable; if the right tactics and funding were to be put in place and a concerted effort was made to push it, then basketball could definitely see its popularity rise. 

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