One criticism I forgot to make in yesterday’s NBL Beyond a joke post was the absolute lack of transparency by basketball businesses, administrators, marketers and promoters.
Fans of all types love talking about their favorite things. Basketball has been in crisis for a long time both in Australia and the USA. However the people at the top act as if Basketball is the dominant sports entertainment business and they try to manage the message to the fans. All this does is turn fans off and drive them to other more engaging areas.
As one of the highest participation and interest sports available, how would basketball look if it had an engaged fan base? The only way to get this is to stop trying to spin a message to that fan base. Three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead. Admit the problems, look for options to fix it and engage with the people who most care about the sport. That’s the fans.
I had lunch with a friend who likes basketball, but asked if it was still played professionally in Australia as he hadn’t seen anything about it in years. Those are the people Basketball needs to attract to fill venues at the professional level. In the nineties those people knew about their local team, were not die hard fans, but attended a couple of games per year to enjoy the spectacle. Normally they went because a fan invited them, not because they saw some advertising about a game.
Am I oversimplifying the problem? Do you agree, disagree or think I have no clue? Comment below.
Australia’s National Basketball League has become a joke. Now the Cairns Tiapans have gone into voluntary administration.
They join the Brisbane Bullets, Singapore Slingers and Sydney Kings in bowing out of the NBL this year alone. The Sydney Spirit (formerly the West Sydney Razorbacks) remain only because the NBL could not afford to allow the only Sydney team to stop playing mid season. To make this happen their players, coaches and staff reportedly took a 50% pay cut.
I have a complete set of 1995 limited edition NBL Car Collectibles (New in Box! – yes I’m that much of a geek). 10 of 14 clubs from 1995 are now defunct. Anybody remember: Canberra Cannons, Geelong Supercats, Gold Coast Rollers, Hobart Tassie Devils, South East Melbourne Magic, Newcastle Falcons or North Melbourne Giants? The Kings and Bullets were there too. Townsville were the Suns and not the Crocodiles (a pox on the Pheonix Suns for the trademark dispute). So only four of 14 clubs from 1995 are still around 13 years later, congratulations to Melbourne Tigers, Perth Wildcats, Adelaide 36ers and Illawarra Hawks – hat tip NLB stats.
The Taipans press release blames the international economic crisis for forcing Pacific Toyota to focus on core business and “no longer financially prop up the Cairns Tiapans”. Unfortunately Pacific Toyota’s executive chairman John O’Brien is also Cairns Taipans majority owner. So it sounds like another case of the sports team relying on the success or failure of the owners’ outside business to fund the team as a side venture. We’ve seen this happen with the Kings and the Bullets this year.
When a basketball club is run as a business in its own right, sponsorship deals are at arms length, cover the entire season, prepaid and enforceable. If the league cannot generate sufficient revenue to cover expenses the entire league is no better than an expensive exhibition tournament. Clubs then have sponsorship, merchandising and ticket sales targets to meet their projected expenses. Given the commercial changes occurring next year – possibly requiring a $1million bond for every team, it is not surprising that nobody is interested in keeping a team on life support in such an uncertain time. Why throw away money on a franchise that may not be around next year.
Lastly this season is a huge failure in sports marketing and sports administration. My initial reaction is the merger between Basketball Australia and the NBL is a bad idea. The elite professional game is about sports entertainment. BA’s concerns are sports development and grass roots. These two outcomes are complimentary but often in conflict.
I am currently reading the Australian Basketball Review Stage Two Report and will comment in more detail later. But I want to get this up now.