NBL Champions 2009 - South Dragons
After being one of just 4,000 people attending game 1 of the NBL championship series a couple of weeks ago, I began to wonder – how can the grand final of the national league of such a popular junior sport, draw such a small crowd?
On Friday night, at game 5 – the decider – I was one of just 9,000 attendees. The decider couldn’t even sell out Hisense arena, while sports like football draw crowds of 50,000+ on a weekly basis. In discussing this, I can not pretend I have been a great supporter of the league, having not attended a game since I was still in juniors myself.
Basketball is one of the top played junior sports in the nation. Our national teams are performing well and Lauren Jackson and Andrew Bogut have become household names.
According to Basketball Australia,
‘Internationally, Australia is currently ranked the number two basketball nation in the FIBA global rankings, while locally, basketball has never been stronger, with more than 650,000 people participating in the sport and numbers continuing to grow.’
A sport with such a strong grass-roots base, in a sports dominated society, with two Victorian teams playing off for the ultimate prize, should be able to draw a crowd well in excess of what I saw on Friday night. This is a problem basketball has been dealing with for a long time in Australia. Once upon a time the NBL was a relatively highly followed sport. I, myself had a poster of Ordonis Jordan and the South East Melbourne Magic sticking to my bedroom wall for quite some time. With a lack of free-to-air TV coverage being a major issue, Basketball Australia, together with the NBL and WNBL have decided something needs to change. A review was undertaken and a report developed:
‘The aim of the review was to obtain a clear, independent view of the state of basketball, so the interim board could develop a revised management structure and a sustainable business plan for basketball in Australia, which would deliver strong commercial and community benefits for the sport.’
‘Key priorities addressed in the report are a major restructure of the basketball administration; re-branding and
aggressively promoting the sport: developing strong revenue streams from corporate and media partnerships; increasing
the connection between community and elite competitions
and national teams; and significant expansion and
investment in the national basketball program.’
This topic is something that I find both interesting and challenging. Growing up surrounded by the influences of this sport, I still struggle to follow the national league, and am more likely to show up to a football match than swich on to a WNBL game on a Saturday afternoon. With this in mind, I have been rethinking my project idea, to revolve around this situation.
How can something be re-branded to regenerate its popularity in Australia?
In considering this problem, I would use Basketball Australia as my main case study, with comparisons to soccer’s A-League, and netball’s similar framework change to see how these strategies are successfully communicated to the Australian public in order to increase their popularity.
I think I might finally have a good idea here…