Basketball is a sport that has existed for a long, long time. It has millions of fans across the globe, hundreds of stadiums, and even more teams. Despite the popularity it holds, some may wonder if the popularity of basketball is decreasing or increasing.
It is safe to say that the sport of basketball is on the rise in terms of popularity. Thanks to rivalries, financial support, and more, this competitive game has grown in its enjoyment over the years. Its rival sports have stayed static in viewership.
Many components have contributed to the increase in this once underrated sport. They continue to push forward into the future. Read on to learn about each one and learn how they continue to benefit what lies ahead in basketball.
Before we get into the specifics of basketball, it is critical to understand where the sport is practiced and enjoyed.
National Basketball Association
We most commonly associate the sport with the National Basketball Association. The NBA consists of teams in:
- Canada: There is only one Canadian team. This team is the Toronto Raptors.
- United States of America: This includes teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers, the Boston Celtics, and the Chicago Bulls.
These professional teams sport the largest number of fans in the world. People in nearly every country tune in to North America’s televised matches, rooting for their favorite players and rivalries. The NBA has even inspired countries to formulate their basketball associations.
According to ncsasports.org, over 350 division one collegiate men’s basketball teams exist across the United States of America. There are the same amount of women’s teams. These are televised as popular events, appealing to sports fans and college students alike.
Other Global Locations
Although basketball was invented in the United States of America, it quickly picked up steam and gained popularity all across the globe. Some other places where basketball is played, according to basketball.org, include:
- Italy: The LBA contains former NBA players and combines forces from across the continent of Europe.
- Spain: Their league is entitled LIGA ACB. They are home to both former NBA and future NBA players.
- Turkey: The BSL contains former NBA players and even a well-trained former NBA coach.
These growing teams across the world have also significantly aided in basketball’s jump in popularity over the years. However, the NBA still sits at the top of the list as of now.
Financial Improvements to Basketball
One of the most important things for a sports team to have is a stream of finances. The money supports everything from paychecks to merchandise and every little thing in between. Without cash flow, a sport is nothing. Improved finance means more to use to draw in fans.
Source of Basketball Funds
We know that the sport has increased its revenue over the past few years. According to businessingmag.com, that money comes from a couple of different sources:
- Television: For a network to televise the games, they need the rights. The NBA makes a large sum of its money from this particular deal.
- Ticket Sales: As expected, another chunk of cash flow comes from ticket sales. This is why there is such a push to get people in the stands with free merchandise.
- Sponsorships: Basketball teams and the NBA as a whole may partner with large brands. Both promote each other, and the NBA earns money from the brand and sales.
All of these incomes have steadily increased over the years, offering more support for various basketball teams.
Where the Money is Used
How this financial support is used is critical to the increased viewership. Typically, the money is used in one of the following ways:
- Training facilities: Often, the financial increase will go towards the improvement of training facilities. This also includes gear, uniforms, and audience seating areas.
- Paychecks: Money goes to basketball players, staff of the facility, and towards hiring more players.
- Rent: The teams must pay rent for facilities and other locations that belong to the team as a whole.
Among smaller expenses, this is where most of the money is spent. The largest chunk goes toward signing contracts with big-name players. The bigger the player, the higher the viewership. The higher the viewership, the greater the popularity of the sport of basketball.
The Intensity of the Game
Much like hockey, basketball operates in short bursts of action. Players shift back and forth across the short play area in the blink of an eye. In a society run by short-form content, this works perfectly to capture attention. In contrast:
- Baseball is slow: This sport operates under a structure every inning. Though there may be the occasional base-steal or entertainment between innings, it is more long-winded.
- Football has timeouts: Though some may enjoy the timeouts in football, it slows down the action. The field is much longer than basketball so the action is spaced.
- Soccer is performed: Though there is action in soccer, it is typically in a dramatized fashion that may not appeal to an American audience. Thus, the possibilities in viewership are significantly shrunk.
In basketball, unlike these sports, there are not many moments where the audience is left waiting for something to happen. It starts fast and is over even faster. Drama happens spontaneously and draws wide attention during the action because it is over just as fast as it started.
Basketball is home to some of the strongest rivalries in the sports world. Some significant ones that exist include:
- Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics: Perhaps the most well-known rivalry, established over the course of 50 years. It has set personality for personality and set the stage for the show that is basketball rivalries.
- Chicago Bulls vs. Detroit Pistons: An 80’s based rivalry that introduced a lot of action to the sport.
- New York Knicks vs. The Miami Heat: A fierce and chaotic rivalry that introduced even more spectacle and intensity to basketball.
These rivalries have spanned decades, inserting narratives and stories into basketball families that have been passed down for generations. Rivalries create interest, and interest formulates popularity. They give audiences a reason to root for a team, just like the movies. Everybody loves a good versus evil story.
A Hometown Commitment
People who live in a certain area will hold a level of commitment to the team that plays for them in any professional sporting event. Basketball game rivalries stir up these passions, much like the Olympics. With passion comes an increased enjoyment of the game. People do not have to know what is going on to know who they want to win.
To support their hometowns, residents will:
- Buy merchandise: They will buy t-shirts, hats, and socks among other items that display their support of the team.
- Purchase tickets: Fans will quickly purchase tickets for hometown games and ones that are close by. They will make every possible effort to attend games that their team plays.
- Tune in on television: Hometown supporters will watch every single game that the team they love plays.
All of these investments in turn go back to supporting the team, which grows larger and reaches more people. It is an endless cycle that has caused basketball to grow more popular in the span of the century.
A Sport of All Weathers
One of the worst parts of a sports game is when bad weather forces the match to be paused or even cancelled. In the winter and fall seasons, this happens often to sports such as football and baseball. Fans are also forced to be outside in this weather.
Since basketball is an indoor sport, this is not an issue. Unless the power is taken down, a basketball game can continue to take place no matter what is going on outside. There are a few exceptions to this:
- Tornado: If there is a tornado warning, players and spectators would be forced to evacuate.
- Hurricane: A hurricane would also be a valid and dangerous reason that a game would need to halt.
- Earthquake: The shaking of the ground itself would warrant an excuse to pause a basketball game.
As you can see, all of these are drastic weather circumstances. They are rare. Basketball seldom stops for weather, unlike football and baseball. People enjoy watching a sport in which they are certain that the game they want to see will happen. Reliability increases a fan base.
Ease of Playability
Basketball is a sport that can be played by anyone, anywhere, at any time. Youth basketball leagues exist all over the US. That does not account for the unnamed teams across the country and the world. These are the teams formed with just a basketball, a net, and a desire to play.
Easy Access to Materials
There are three simple tools needed for basketball:
- A group of people: This can include friends, family members, and even random people on your block. Anybody can play.
- A hoop: A hoop does not need to be the standard, NBA hoop. It can be a hula hoop, a giant frisbee, and anything in between.
- A ball: Basketballs are easy to come by. Any other ball can mimic it as well. Kids and adults alike can play out the motions for themselves.
That is it. Anyone can pick up these three things and begin playing the sport right away. It is quick to learn and fun to play, no matter how great you are at it. You can be the worst in the world and still have the most fun.
The Slow Rise of Women’s Basketball
For the longest time, no one paid mind to women’s teams in the dominating universe of men’s basketball. Women’s professional and college-level teams were left in the dust to fend for themselves.
Activists in sports have increased the popularity of women’s basketball by doing the following:
- Increasing salary: Previously, the average salary for a professional women’s player was around $70,000. It has grown to nearly $130,000 and even $500,000 for some as stated by phys.org.
- Improving marketing: Marketing on platforms such as Instagram, network television, and Twitter has increased over the years. Fans are more informed about games and events that are going on in the WNBA universe.
- Raising coverage: More women’s basketball games have been placed on live television than ever before.
By doing this, basketball widens a market that it showed little notice to before: women. Little girls can now see women on screen, playing a game just like the guys. They might be inspired to play themselves and open basketball to a future that football, baseball, and many other sports have not even attempted but need to.
Helping Women’s Teams in Other Sports
Just like basketball, if other teams were to provide support to their women’s teams it is almost certain that their popularity would increase. The female market has been lying in wait for a very long time. Basketball is the first to begin rising to the occasion.
The only other sport that has helped out their women’s team in the United States of America is soccer. Even then, with a dominant women’s team, the players are underpaid and under-acknowledged. Basketball is one of the first United States sports to begin the push of letting women into the spotlight.
A Sport That Unites
After all is said and done, one of the main reasons that basketball has grown in popularity is because it is a sport that brings a variety of different people together. Everybody understands it. Unlike football, baseball, and soccer, it is not a sport that is rooted specifically in an area. The whole world knows this sport.
Basketball is a sport that:
- Causes gatherings: There is no better excuse to get together with friends than for the sake of a basketball game. This sport brings families together in a spirited fashion and allows for a healthy sense of competition.
- Encourages play: Basketball pushes young and old alike outside, helping the world stay healthy and strong in the midst of whatever is going on. Going outside to play basketball is much more appealing than rushing to the gym.
- Formulates bonds: If you play a sport with someone, chances are that you will grow close. Basketball creates friends, shapes parental bonds, and grows memories that will last a lifetime.
Basketball is a sport to the world that is so much more than a sport. In many places, it has become part of the culture. It is a way people talk, chat, and meet. It is truly a game that unites the world as one.
Basketball Around the World
Basketball is enjoyed differently in many locations around the world. It is a sport that holds the power to unite thanks to the aforementioned simplicity and ease of access. Basketball is played by everyone very differently in several countries.
Barefoot in the Philippines
According to theculturetrip.com, the Philippines is a country rooted in basketball. It has been a big part of the way they live for more than a century. It is in every single town, from the tiniest of villages to the largest of cities. The people play no matter what their circumstances are.
Basketball is popular in the Philippines because it:
- Requires almost no equipment: You simply need a ball and a hoop to start playing. In poverty-stricken areas, this means little to no money is necessary to get started in this sport.
- Uses a small amount of space: Citizens of the Philippines can use a giant space or a small space. Whatever they have access to works for the sport. It is an anywhere kind of game.
- No player minimum or maximum: You can play with one player or a million. With basketball, citizens can rid themselves of excess energy and exercise without worrying about meeting a requirement.
The Philippines have ingrained this energetic sport into their culture thanks to the reliable nature of its supplies. They play it barefoot, indoors, outdoors, shirtless, uniformed up. They play whenever they get the chance because it is easy to pick it up and play anywhere.
Bayside and Indoors in Australia
Another location where basketball has swept up in popularity is Australia. Here, they play it both indoors and outdoors. Often it is a beachfront sport since much of Australia is coastal.
As well as their professional teams, Australia has hundreds of social clubs and venues that allow people to play with locals who are also interested in the sport. It is a social activity in this country.
Streetball in China
China is home to a raw form of basketball: streetball. Radiichina.com states that this sport is much quicker and laid-back than American basketball. There is a focus on tricks and fancy dribbling patterns that most games do not incorporate.
China gained a liking to this sport when:
- Chinese players joined the NBA: When Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian joined the NBA, it served as a boost in popularity for the sport in the country.
- It was utilized by the army: Chinese armies used to, and still do, use basketball as a training exercise.
- It was incorporated into schools: Basketball courts cost the least. They were implemented into schools as a form of exercise while also saving money.
Though many do not realize it, basketball has been popular in other countries for a very long time. Thanks to the increased televisation of games, basketball has continued to grow in many locations. We all understand basketball, and thus it is a sport that unites.
The Death of a Legend
The untimely death of Kobe and Gianna Bryant on January 26th, 2020, brought out a whole new side to the basketball community: grief.
Kobe Bryant inspired an entire generation of basketball players. With his absence, the sport took a shift in the direction of growth. Players all around the world wanted to and still want to honor the name of the late legend.
His daughter, Gianna, was also an inspiration to young female players. Along with the rise in women’s basketball, Gianna’s legacy has left a status for young girls to fill with their passion and determination. More female players have joined the ranks of youth basketball to make up for the absence of a powerhouse.
Basketball is an American-made sport that has been around for a long time. Though once the least popular, it is now growing into a position that rivals even the NFL. It has increased in popularity for many reasons, which will continue to help it blossom into a worldwide phenomenon.
Basketball is a sport that is easy to understand. People all across the globe can play the sport without fear of making a mistake. All it requires is a ball, a hoop, and a desire to play the classic game that America introduced to the earth. We all speak the same language with basketball.