When you think of “sports in Canada”, what comes to mind? Instantly, a lot of people might think of hockey, football, or even lacrosse. Despite how big basketball is in Canada, Canadian basketball is constantly put on the back burner to other sports.
This begs the questions: Why is basketball, a game invented in Canada, so much more popular in the States? Why is it that Canada only has one team in the NBA? Why is it that basketball in Canada barely gets any love from the media? Before we even begin to think of answering these questions, we have to acknowledge the plain and simple fact that this is a complex issue that has multiple answers. Also, there are probably a few answers that we as the general public are not even aware of. At any rate, let’s take a brief look at the relationship between media attention and Canadian basketball, and hopefully, we can draw out some answers.
Among a few of the reasons that Canadian basketball gets little love from the media is because of the decision makers a.k.a. the corporate bigwigs in places of power are unaware of the actual size and potential of the basketball industry in Canada. So, instead of rewarding media coverage to basketball, they cover sports like hockey that are a sure shot and for which they are guaranteed to have an audience. Why do they do this? The answer is money. Now let me break it down. The simple fact is that having an audience is the key to generating revenues because this is where advertisers come into play, and this is where the money is made. If an advertiser sees that a particular media outlet such as television has a station that offers a lot of hockey coverage, then they know that there is a high potential for an available audience for their products and services.
In the defense of the media, it wouldn’t make sense to cover a sport that has no known audience because then the coverage wouldn’t be satisfying anyone. It would just be a waste of time and resources. In the case of media attention for Canadian basketball, there are other sports that might appear to be more popular than basketball, so the media gives them more coverage. This is where part of the problem lies. Since the media might not know how popular basketball in Canada truly is, they refuse to give it the attention it deserves. If they would give Canadian basketball more coverage they would soon see a strong following.
To all those people who think basketball in Canada is weak or dying, allow me to break you off with some food for thought. Firstly, basketball in Canada is pretty big at the varsity level, but it is absolutely massive at the recreational and street level. Even though I could hit you with some stats, the stats don’t do Canadian basketball any justice because they don’t represent how immense basketball is beyond the varsity level. Regardless, basketball in Canada is huge. For one, it’s a cheap sport to play; all you really need is a ball and some decent shoes. If you don’t have a ball, you could easily go to a court and find someone else who has one. In other words, basketball doesn’t dictate who can play based on whether or not they can afford to play. Not to hate on hockey or anything, but it’s far more expensive than basketball because it requires a lot of equipment, which is highly priced because of its market value and cost of production.
Even though hockey can be played with just skates and a stick, good luck trying to find a used pair of skates and an old stick for under $20. Keyword is used. When you look at buying those things new, you are looking at dishing out a couple of hundred bucks. The point is basketball is one of the cheapest sports you can play, which is why it has such mass appeal. On top of that, basketball is a sport that is pretty easy to pick up and play, even if you have never played before. That makes it a little bit less intimidating and a little bit more inviting. Think about it, did you fear your first time picking up a basketball? Or did you fear your first time trying to keep your balance on two little blades stuck to the bottom of some ugly boots, while dodging high flying sticks and a puck? Not to mention the cold arena or whether you have to put up with.
Secondly, because basketball has such a major presence in the States, we in Canada get a large amount of cross over coverage. In other words, we see most of the basketball coverage taking place in the U.S. because we subscribe to so many U.S. channels. Not only that, the majority of the mass media is based in the U.S., so for them to award coverage for something that is Canadian usually means that the Canadian content has to hit their radar. It would be extremely rare for the U.S. media to go out of their way looking for Canadian content, especially Canadian basketball given the level of basketball in the U.S. What this translates into is this, heavy basketball coverage in the U.S. creates a basketball culture here in Canada, but because the sports media is mostly concerned with the booming U.S. basketball industry, we in Canada get stuck with a severe lack of media attention for Canadian basketball.
Another huge obstacle that has prevented basketball in Canada from exploding is the fact that Canadian universities and colleges are not allowed to grant full athletic scholarships. This has huge implications because that limits the drive people have to play basketball on a serious level because the odds of creating a future from it are slim. Just imagine if universities and colleges were drafting kids from high school. How many people would be playing basketball then? The numbers are endless because not only is basketball popular amongst male students, but it has tremendous popularity with the ladies as well.
Lastly, before you can even try to hate on Canadian basketball and argue that it is not going anywhere, you need to recognize the fact that Canadian basketball is a growing industry, not an industry that has maxed out. Some people seem to think that because Canadian basketball has been around for so long that this is as big as it is ever going to get, which I bet my life on, is not the case. Even though Canadian basketball has been around for decades, it has not received any serious attention for all of those years. In addition to that, the market has changed drastically over the past few years. Canada is seeing more and more urban populations developing who have a passion and a love for the game. In other words, as big as basketball in Canada has become since its birth, the truth is, it’s still in its infancy and has a long way to go.
So now what? Now you support BBM and anybody else that is in support of Canadian basketball. The reason why you should back BBM is simple; we will provide the media attention that Canadian basketball desperately needs, and at the same time, we’re basketball fanatics that live in a basketball culture. We want to take Canadian basketball to the next level because all the players and fans deserve it, and because Canada deserves it. It’s time for Canadian basketball to blow; the industry is there, all it needs is for someone to shine a light on it, and BBM can provide that light.
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