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This is a guest post from British basketball journalist Paul Nilsen, who provides media to GB Basketball, FIBA, Women’s British Basketball League, FIBA Europe, British Basketball League and other organisations. He can be followed @basketmedia365.
The thought of cricketers running about in glorified pyjamas for what was once ‘new-fangled’ 20-20 games used to leave an unpalatable taste in my mouth.
After all, I used to occasionally bunk off school in the 1980’s to watch England lose five day test matches on a regular basis.
When 3×3 basketball was introduced, I still found myself wallowing far too steeply in tradition and not interested in a ‘shortened’ version of any sport I love. My cynicism was unashamedly palpable.
Yet once I had got over the fact that me being a fan is neither here nor there, I have been carefully watching the explosion of 3×3 around the globe through the prism of my work as a FIBA contributor.
It has been astonishing.
Right before us is a fantastic example of how so many (mostly) young people want to be able to connect with the sport more easily and in a non-traditional way. Although I say that gently, because what is more traditional than a grass-roots game of 3×3 down the park?
3×3 has extended the reach of basketball beyond belief in most other countries wo have engaged with it.
It has opened doors and even miniscule nations like Andorra, have suddenly been able to write a fairytale by becoming 3×3 powerhouses.
Sure, it will never be the full version of the game or be able to rival it, but it certainly can’t be ignored.
As a women’s hoops addict, I note many female players really enjoy it – and one of the best elements is that there is the alluring opportunity to always have mixed teams playing at tournaments.
And, those tournaments could take place in some astonishingly powerful locations in the UK on a regular basis to promote the sport.
It’s a pity that we have not engaged in something which is mushrooming all over the globe. We also have so many skills and expertise who could help the official organisations to promote and organise 3×3 tournaments – whether it is the guys from Hoopsfix or Midnight Madness and so on.
One of the priorities is to grow the sport in the UK at all levels.
3X3 is being used as an important (and arguably the most effective) tool in a plethora of other nations to raise profile and participation – yet so far, we have not managed to harness that special power which it seems to cast over certain key demographic groups.
We must also remember it doesn’t have to be instead of 5×5 events.
For example, a GB Basketball/Basketball Foundation/BBL/WBBL jointly backed 3×3 competition in the middle of London on the same weekend as the dual WBBL and BBL Play-Off Finals at The 02 in the future could be stunning.
Not least with the prospect of a mixed Leicester Riders team for example.
From a WBBL standpoint and taking into account logistics and so forth – could the Betty Codona Classic be an opportunity for all WBBL clubs to have a 3×3 tournament in the future? Just an idea and the more I think about it, the more it appeals.
The sharing of some top notch 3×3 equipment between GB basketball, WBBL/BBL – even the Basketball Foundation or Home Nations, could surely deliver and it would be a sweet move. As expertise grows and experience of hosting of events is fine-tuned, it could be an essential lever for the sport.
Yet the silence on 3×3 in the current debate is deafening.
So, while I might not be the biggest fan of 3×3, I am now willing to be converted after what I have seen elsewhere in the world. But even if I am not converted myself, hundreds of thousands of people out there might just see the light.
Opportunity still knocks – so let’s see if we can finally catch up.
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