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?