Compared to our EU neighbours, British basketball is dramatically underfunded. It’s an underdevelopment of basketball talent in this country and an exodus of those players who do reach the top. We’re losing positive role-models who would otherwise inspire and engage young people, especially in our inner cities.
Professionally Great Britain has only 11 basketball clubs, which mostly pay minimum wage. Contrast with Germany’s 57, France’s 64, Spain’s 66 and Italy’s 42. Top division teams in these countries pay six figure salaries while French third division teams pay twice as much as top division teams in the UK.
Where do our British basketball stars go?
Some of our star players emigrate toRomania, Poland, and Bulgaria because, astonishingly, they can earn more money there than at home. Ovie Soko is one of our best players and should be famous in his own right but needed Love Island to gain any recognition. Now he’s departed again, for France this time, because his opportunities in England are so poor.
Basketball is the second most popular sport in the UK for participation, according to iNews, Loughborough University and Sky Sports, yet sailing, horse-riding and shooting receive many times more government funding.
According to Statista,
“The sport with the highest amount of Olympic funding received by UK Sport for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo 2020 was rowing, with a sum of roughly 30.5 million British pounds.”
Basketball wasn’t funded at all although it will receive 1.3 million in 2024 as an “Emerging Sport”.
The irony of this classification is that it emerged everywhere else during the 1930s. British basketball faces a hostile environment due to 80 years of neglect; grassroots cannot grow on concrete.
Despite a grievous lack of institutional support, the sport has established itself as one of the country’s most inclusive games and is ideally suited to areas deprived of space.
iNews reported that,
Over half of adults of adults who play basketball are ethnic minorities.
“According to a 2013 study, over half of adults are ethnic minorities. This is more than for any other major sport in Britain. From 11-15, 40 percent of basketball players are female, almost double the number for football. Pound for pound, perhaps no sport does more social good in Britain today.” (italics our own)
There’s an undeniable preference for funding sports enjoyed by this country’s aristocracy, mainly because England has a history of success in ‘upper-class’ events, while the demographic locus of basketball’s positive impact is ignored. More and more we are seeing exclusion rates amongst black young people far higher than other ethnic groups within the UK¹.
It’s a disparity that correlates with failure to support the sport which most engages many such youths. Sailing, rowing, horse-riding and shooting continue to thrive. However millions of urban basketball lovers can’t avail of the opportunities to play or attend matches. British traditionalism is failing these communities recreationally and academically. Both failures reflect the same, implicit colonial bias².
Hoops National Anthem is a new UK based campaign with a mission to address this neglect by helping the British basketball community find cohesion and work together to confront their lack of support.
“The first step towards winning is to come together and for that to happen we need a collective voice. That’s what I hope to find. Not my voice, but ours”. – Chris K Pearson, founder & CEO of Hoops Anthem.
Stage one is a highly-anticipated contest with £1500 of prize money for musicians to create a British basketball rallying song, a national anthem for our sport.
Details on the contest can be found at http://hoopsanthem.co.uk