Years ago

Why do we have import restrictions?

Can anyone tell me what the main reasons are that we have import restrictions? Is it one of those archaic, "protectionist" rules that no longer have as much relevance in what is now a truly globally connected world we live in?

If I think in global trade terms, free trade is usually encouraged so as to promote competition and better products/services for the consumers. For example, imagine if you your electronics store only was allowed to stock 20 per cent overseas brands with the rest being local. You would miss out on the quality of product that you probably have in your home. I can't think of any Australian electronics equipment I have.

In the NBL's case, the consumers are the fans and you would think the on-court product improves if we don't have import restrictions.

The main reason I can think to have restrictions is to "promote the growth of the game in this country", which is fair, but how far do we go before we cross the line from encouraging growth to encouraging mediocrity in our league? Perhaps instead of setting an import cap of 2, we should be setting a minimum home-grown (or Oceania/Asian player) number of say 4 or 5.

Now, I don't envisage that under the rules I propose teams will go out and construct All-US type rosters. At the end of the day, management may still opt to assemble a team with a lot of local talent to connect with the fans, or to enhance continuity as local players are more likely to forge long-term careers in their home country. At the end of the day, Australian basketballers are pretty damn good too so they would be value for money.

But we talk about how we are a global sport, with a global audience and global markets we can tap in to. So why have such restrictive roster composition rules in relation to where players are from? You can still have your salary and/or points cap to exert control over roster construction without worrying about players nationalities.

If I think of the top tier, premium sporting competitions in this world (which I understand is where LK wants to get the NBL to), they don't have such restrictions. (e.g. NBA, EPL (EPL does have a low minimum home grown quota that needs to be filled but this is pretty loose).

Particularly with the league eyeing expansion in the coming years, I think this is a rule that we need to take a look at. I'm not even thinking about the top tier of imports either - we are not there yet where we can afford heaps of these players in one team. But think of that guy who is filling in at Melbourne United, or even Kenyon McNeill - "role" type guys willing to grind it out overseas on smaller coin - are they good enough to play in our league but only pushed out because they are not "top tier" Americans worthy to command 1 of 2 import slots? Are they better than some of the Aussies who get to be on a roster because of where they're from?

Your thoughts?

Topic #38492 | Report this topic

Years ago

I'm trying to think of some of the guys who maybe wouldn't have made a career out of basketball if we loosened the import restrictions? Chris Goulding comes to mind? He was a guy who toiled at the end of benches for a few years before cracking the big time. But a lot of it is about the personality of the individual. Maybe he keeps working on his game regardless of whether he's on a NBL roster and eventually works his way up. Then you think of a guy like Hugh Greenwood who is earmarked for a big role but gives it away anyway because he can't be on the Boomers straight away.

I think it's more about the personal drive of the individual than the rules. A "if you're good enough, you'll make it" type philosophy as opposed to the Greenwood "hope it gets handed to me or I'm quitting" mentality.

Reply #565033 | Report this post

Years ago

Before the import rule, teams in Australia were made up of a lot of Americans and young Aussies weren't given a go.

Times have changed and maybe the import rule may need to be looked at.

Reply #565038 | Report this post

Years ago

Keep it as it is. Promotes development of juniors here. 2 imports is enough.

Reply #565039 | Report this post

Years ago

3 is perfect IMO

Reply #565043 | Report this post

Years ago

I could see 3 working but never any more than that. Its a fine line getting that balance of Aussie talents and the next generation of Aussie talent through but not lose the excitement entertainment value of star players performing.

Reply #565047 | Report this post

Years ago

The NBL cannot ever be in the top tier though. Leagues outside the top tier have restrictions. NZ NBL, Europe, etc.

If it's three, have one of them needing to have played a full ABL season to qualify. Helps a lower league out.

Reply #565060 | Report this post

Callisto 75  
Years ago

Import restrictions are in place to develop Australian players. I remember reading Fearne saying that is one of his selling points when recruiting imports as with a 2 import limit imports play a larger role in this league. I would support 3 imports if the league expanded to 12 teams - with one import having played SEABL/State League and/or NBL previously.

Reply #565070 | Report this post

Years ago

Presumably NBL is still expected to play a role as a development league for Boomers and providing a career path for Australian players who can't or don't want to play overseas (yet). That's the only substantial argument for an import restriction, isn't it?

If NBL is just about promoting the sport and making money for clubs and owners then import restrictions wouldn't help.

If you move to 3+ imports while retaining a salary cap (at least at its current level), would it drive down salaries for mid-tier and lower players? Demand (spots to be filled) would be the same and supply (players to fill them) would be a lot larger.

Reply #565073 | Report this post

Years ago

Australia only has 70-75 professional male basketballers in total. That's why we need import restrictions and that's a reason why we need more teams.

People talk about how many hundreds of players we have in college, but the reality is only about 4-5 graduate to be pros each year. Given our juniors are world class, it says there is a lot of talent going by the wayside.

Reply #565074 | Report this post

Years ago

Paul, how much of that talent is going by the wayside because of personal choice as opposed to not being able to get a job? There might be kids who don't see a long term career in the nbl making small coin as attractive and aren't good enough to play in higher paying leagues. Greenwood is sort of an example. I say sort of because he might have been good enough to get a job in Europe?

Reply #565077 | Report this post

Years ago

Spot on re both choice and lack of jobs. Creating more teams will create a stronger pathway via more jobs and more higher-paying jobs. We have the talent to do it, we just need the people with the cash!

Reply #565080 | Report this post

Years ago

Unlimited imports is a farcical proposal for a country like Australia. We can't even afford two per team for an eight league team league and be profitable.

Will teams turn a profit in 2015/16?

If so, how much and where should it be spent? On foreign players who play and leave. Take the money and put it into their own pockets.

Surely we want some of that revenue (which I doubt will be much) to stay in Australia to be reinvested into the game here. To stabilise the league clubs and to grow the number of teams.

To do that there needs to be some sort of equalisation of talent across all league teams. The AFL learnt this lesson during the 90s and the NRL with salary cap breaches. The leagues responsibility is to commercially govern in a way that protects every owner's investment.

Yes the game is about entertainment, but we need to crawl before we can walk.

Reply #565082 | Report this post

Years ago

Imports don't necessarily cost a lot of money. That's a perception that's carried over from the early days of the NBL when there wasn't the depth of local talent to warrant good coin.

The reality is there are far more talented Americans looking to play OS than there are spots. While there are some top-end imports who demand good coin, and we're lucky to have quite a few at the moment, there are also many a bargain to be had.

If we could expand to 14-16 teams over a number of years, I think a move to three imports would then be a smart one.

It would still leave 100-110 local spots (same numbers as the late 80s, early 90s) but also only require 70-80 quality Aussies/Kiwis (ie 5 per team) for each to have a quality eight-man rotation, with a couple of spots for younger players to get full-time gigs.

Reply #565088 | Report this post

Years ago

Pretty simple it's about developing your own talent and it is an Australian league.

I reason less people would follow if you only had 3/4 Aussies on each team.

Also lets not forget the fact with the increased level f local talent you might find we don't really need more than the two each team gets. It's become apparent most teams have 1 starting star import and 1 role playing import who provided a bit of extra length or acertain skill set Not locally available.

Reply #565089 | Report this post

Years ago

Many teams struggle to afford 2 let alone 3 and last time they had 3 in it was a failure.

Reply #565094 | Report this post

Years ago

Does the league need to worry about developing Aussie talent?

Those good enough go to college to get developed.

Import restrictions were put in place when the NBL was a feeding ground for the boomers. Now it is not.

The league needs to make money, the easiest sell is athletic talent.

Import restriction should be changed the three.

Aussie talent not good enough is forced to get better. In the short term some aussie's will miss out but in the long term they'll get better because in order to survive they'll need to compete with global talent.

Reply #565098 | Report this post

Years ago

"Aussie talent not good enough is forced to get better."

Short-term view RMQ. Where do they get better? We don't have a second-tier pro league.

If you don't provide a pathway eventually your talent pool will dry up, leaving someone else to try and fix the mess down the track.

Reply #565101 | Report this post

Years ago

It is a short term problem yes.

They have the same avenues to get better, the only difference is they know they have to work harder because the bar is set higher.

Reply #565116 | Report this post

Years ago

Affordability is a big factor, I would think. Of course, the local talent needs to have a pathway, so a limit has to remain IMO.

Two imports with 8 teams works, if we grow to ten teams I can see the import tally going to three with no problems.

Depends on how the competition and league grows, it has to suit...

Reply #565117 | Report this post

Years ago

I think you missed my point RMQ. If Aussies don't have NBL opportunities the vast majority of them don't have professional environments to get better in.

Bringing in more imports won't add to revenue to the league but it will likely drain the talent pool down the track with fewer athletes viewing basketball as a viable option.

Reply #565121 | Report this post

Years ago

what is being proposed is that if we have ten teams we go to three imports. This would mean 2 new teams and 14 new jobs for Aussies under those rules. But we lose one Aussie from each team as a result of the new import rule so 8 current guys lose or reduce their salary. Net result = 6 jobs overall for new aussies and 10 new imports in the league. Average cost of an Australian NBL = 50K-70Kpa. Average cost of Import = 100K-120K+ pa.

Im not convinced this commercial decision would translate to more revenue into the league just because the perception is it would be more 'athletic' or 'attractive'. What about we invest in developing and retaining Australian talent - isn't that what the coaches of the best teams do?

Not sure an extra import makes perfect financial sense in a league that can't keep 8 teams affordable right now.

Reply #565147 | Report this post

Years ago

If I want to watch Americans play basketball, I'll watch the NBA.

I live in Perth, but never truly warmed to the Wildcats in their hey day because I simply couldn't relate to their lineup of naturalised Americans with more American imports on top. Very good basketballers and I watched the odd game, but even as a basketball-mad teenager and twenty-something I preferentially watched my local A-Grade, or went along to an SBL game.

Part of the appeal of sports is having something to aspire to. "If I work hard, and/or I'm really good, I could get to where they are". When your local team is full of imports you're basically telling local kids that none of the locals were good enough, we had to get players from somewhere else to compete.

Having a sprinkling of imports adds some variety and raises the level of the competition, but too many is counter-productive IMO.

Reply #565199 | Report this post

Callisto 75  
Years ago

There's enough Australian talent for 10 teams.

Australians and New Zealanders who could potentially comeback from overseas if the league expanded.

Marcel Jones

Plus guys coming in from College, the FIBA Oceania rule and Guys who play at SEABL/State League level, there is enough talent to expand with 10 teams I feel without diluting the standard too much.

I would allow 3 imports if the league expanded to 12 teams however but 1 has to have played in the NZNBL, State League or NBL before.

Imports in some cases can be cheaper than locals however as there is more demand for Australians in this league and there is a demand for American's across the world.

Reply #565211 | Report this post

Years ago

I highly doubt it would make a hell of a lot of difference, the average nbl salary wouldn't be enough to entice more Americans to relocate.

Reply #565232 | Report this post

Years ago

Bringing in more imports won't add to revenue to the league but it will likely drain the talent pool down the track with fewer athletes viewing basketball as a viable option.

I agree with Paul - particularly with sports like AFL already keeping a close eye on and pinching a lot of quality junior basketballers.

Reply #565233 | Report this post

Years ago

But then you give guys who are nznbl or seabl imports (who have clearly shown they are willing to play here for small money) a chance in the top oceanic league. How many other redhages and conklins could there be if given a chance?

Reply #565287 | Report this post

Years ago

I would support 3 imports per team however only ever have 2 on the court maximum.

I like Koreas rules with 2 per team however only 1 at a time during the 2nd and 3rd quarters. That makes a true competitive local competition.

Reply #565376 | Report this post

Years ago

I think finicky import rules based on playing time or number on court at once will just confuse incoming fans.

Limit of two for top teams makes sense. Most are competing because of their local contingent as much as any imports. And permit a third ABL import for weaker teams to help them remain competitive.

Reply #565403 | Report this post

Years ago

It's an interesting question.
I don't think the 2-import restriction is magical, or perfect, but it does contribute to maintaining opportunities for locals, as well as encouraging naturalisation, loyalty, and stability.

Reply #565783 | Report this post

Years ago

And how do you define weak and strong teams isaac? And what If a weak team becomes strong by virtue of their extra import, do they have to give him up? Don't think your rule is practical.

Reply #565937 | Report this post


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