UK Sport has come under further criticism for its funding cut to British Basketball, this time from NBA Commissioner David Stern and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver.
Despite the record funding for Olympic and Paralympic athletes that was announced on December 18th in the run up to 2016, British Basketball was left in the dark, seeing their funding cut to zero, a decision Stern has labelled “stunning.”
“Philosophically, it is rather stunning to me,” said Stern, talking about the cut to The Times earlier this week. “I guess they are going to give it to water polo, pony polo or maybe golf.”
“The next Andy Murray of basketball is some place, but he needs a little help. If the Government doesn’t lead in some way it becomes an issue.”
Meanwhile, Silver was asked why it is that basketball in the UK lacks behind its European counterparts.
“I’d say it’s a lack of support from the Government,” he responded. “Basketball has a team of 12 players but only yields one medal, so it’s not an efficient investment from a medal standpoint, but the societal benefits from team sports are enormous. Skills translate into business and life skills. Governments as far apart as China and India have gotten behind the sport because of the cultural benefits.
“A national team does matter. People follow their Government’s expressed interest in particular sports, so we think it’s very important to the development of the sport for Team GB to be successful.”
Stern didn’t retract his comments in the NBA London Detroit Pistons-New York Knicks pre-game press conference either.
“I think I’m in trouble already for my remarks yesterday to The Times,” he said. “But I just think that I believe in the aspects of our game that we talk about because other governments talk about it. They talk about exercise, health, fitness, discipline, teamwork as great attributes, especially in a world that’s dealing with obesity and diabetes.
“And they also talk about the fact that our game is welcoming, inclusive, progressive, and very diverse, and if I were an enterprise deciding where to invest, I would think that basketball, especially in a country that originally focused prior to the Olympics on the fact that basketball was a sport being played in the neighborhoods and especially for a country that’s been bemoaning the fact that it’s shut down playing fields and gymnasiums and they wanted to get kids out to be more active, the decision confounds me.”
Asked about British basketball’s planned appeal to the decision, he said he was more than happy to talk about the benefits of basketball.
“We’ve said our piece, and let’s see how they do it. If somebody wants to ask me about the attributes of basketball and why it’s a solid investment for the youth of any country I would be happy to talk to that.”
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