On December 18th 2012, British Basketball was turned on its head with the news that it would receive no funding for the next four year cycle toward Rio 2016.
After letting the initial shock settle in, I had some time to think about just how severe the implications of this are. It’s as simple as this: without funding the future for British Basketball is very, very bleak.
I’ve been inundated with emails, tweets, Facebook messages, text messages and phone calls from people asking what they can do to help make a stand against this outrageous decision.
So here it is…today officially sees the launch of ‘Fund British Basketball’ a campaign set up by myself and Leicester Riders General Manager Russ Levenston. The aim? To get as many people as possible to sign this petition.
If you haven’t signed it yet, please do it right now, and get as many of your friends and family to do it as possible. If the UK basketball community really pushes this and takes action, I have no doubt that within a very short period of time we can have a pretty sizable number of people demanding the government to take notice.
I know some of you have strong opinions about British Basketball as an organisation (myself included) but no argument can be made by anyone that cares about the sport in this country that the funding cut is a positive thing.
As a small and tight knit community we need to come together for the good of our sport. If this decision is upheld it will devastate basketball in the UK for years to come. Please sign the petition and spread the word about the campaign.
There’s a website which will follow all campaign/funding related news and serve as a home base.
The official press release for the launch of the campaign is below – if you have a website, or any other type of publishing outlet please consider writing a story about it. If you have a social media account, please spread the word on there. On Twitter we’re using the hashtag #fundbritishbasketball to track tweets, which are all appearing in the sidebar on the official campaign site.
If you have an idea to help, or want more information, I am available any time on sam(@)hoopsfix.com (not always an instant response, but I do my best!).
I’m a stickler for quotes, so I’ll leave you with this one from Margaret Mead:
A grass roots campaign has been launched by members of the basketball community in the United Kingdom, urging UK Sport to reconsider their decision not to allocate funding to British basketball for the next Olympic cycle to 2016.‘Fund British Basketball’, a website with an accompanying petition on the official government website, was created by Hoopsfix.com founder Sam Neter and Leicester Riders General Manager Russ Levenston.
“For all this talk of legacy over the last 5 years, it seems like basketball is one of the sports that has been forgotten about,” said 26 year old Neter whose website receives over 80,000 visits a month, predominantly from the UK. “To cut basketball’s funding, a sport which has arguably shown greater progress than any other over the last four years, is a complete kick in the teeth.
“Their criteria for funding may be medal hopes only, but that is flawed when it compares all sports on an equal footing. If a sport only has say a few dozen countries in it, of course it’s going to be easier to win a medal. If it has multiple events and multiple distances the same would apply.”
Sports participated in by a tiny part of the population compared with basketball, such as rowing (£32.6m), sailing (£24.5m) taekwondo (£6.9m) and modern pentathlon (£6.9m), were rewarded with budget increases.
“The question has to be asked, as a nation, is all we care about medals, and the guesswork of a few about who might win in 4 or 8 years time, or do we want to provide hope and a future for sports that are actually played by the people.”
Basketball is the second most popular sport for 11-15 year olds in England, say the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, and according to Sport England, those participants are made up of 42% ethnic minorities; the clear leader of getting children from black and minority ethnic backgrounds active and the sport with the largest percentages from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.
High profile figures such as FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann, NBA Commissioner David Stern and Sir Clive Woodward have all condemned the cut, branding it “incomprehensible”, “confounding” and “completely baffling”.
The Fund British Basketball campaign also states the UK Sport’s “no compromise-formula” lacks consistency, with sports such as swimming still being funded to the tune of £21.4m (a reduction of only £3.7m) despite barely hitting half of their medal target, whilst others received funding increases in spite of winning no games at London, such as water polo, whose funding has increased for Rio to £4.5m.
Should the petition reach 100,000 signatures it will be considered for debate in the House of Commons.
The GB men rose from being unranked to being placed 23rd in the world rankings since their inception in 2007, whilst the women reached the number 24 spot. Most recently, at London 2012, the Men lost by a single point in the final seconds to silver medallists Spain, and the Women only in overtime to silver medallists France.
GB stars Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Drew Sullivan are both publicly backing the campaign.
“I am deeply saddened by the recent news of the funding cut,” said North Londoner Mensah-Bonsu who has forged himself a successful professional career in both the NBA and Europe.
“It hurts to think the last four years could have been for nothing, when we thought we were a part of something special that would inspire a generation.”
“Playing domestically, I know how badly the sport needs a Team GB to exist. Kids come up to me on a daily basis to say how much the Olympics meant to them, and players I coach have all hoped to be a part of the GB set up in the future,” said Leicester Riders captain Sullivan.
“I encourage everyone to make their opinion count by signing the petition and supporting the Fund British Basketball campaign.”