Two months ago

Basketball boom: NBL closes gap on rivals

Brace yourselves because it's a positive article about men's basketball on The Guardian site!

The NBL, which concludes its regular season this week, has reached an average attendance of more than 7,000 for the first time. The surge has brought the league to within sight of the A-League Men and its average crowd of just over 8,000.

Basketball boom: NBL closes gap on rivals with family fun and community focus

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Two months ago

The league may by 45 years old, but Smith likens it to an adolescent: awkward but with room to grow. "It's a gangly youth with long legs and arms but its body has not grown into its form yet," he says. “They’ve kind of got pimples and all sorts of things, but could turn into a handsome young man, you never know.”

What a quote

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Two months ago

The decline of the A League is a big problem if you're a 'Soccer' fan and it's hard to see it coming back to when it was booming unless Frank Lowy or someone similar decides to fork out big time. The recent A League expansion that occurred before and during COVID was some serious bad luck.

The NBL has lucked out in timing with the decline of American college basketball for NBA aspirants and the Asian player exemption rule was also a stroke of genius. Adding a third import also brought the standard up and made the talent pool of good local players smaller. It'll be interesting to see how the NBL goes come finals time when the footy codes are back.

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Billy Bob  
Two months ago

Hopefully the next tv deal can result in enough money so that a percentage gets redistributed back to the clubs. That will be a sign of getting into true professional and commercial territory. At the moment it's still abit of hype without the substance behind the scenes.

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Two months ago

Yes nice article, LK has been great but owners like Smith also exceptional. We might not like the way he carries on but it's good publicity.

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Two months ago

Spot on in the descriptions of why and how NBL is booming

The stat about tickets-per-transaction is interesting, but not surprising. With the overall entertainment focus, pre and during games, and the shorter game length, it's more appealing taking a child compared to basically any other sport.

And it's also a good point about Adelaide, Sydney having good crowds despite lack of success. Same for SEM. The entertainment feeds into that. AFL footy, it's always interested me how little focus there is on extras, other than the game itself. When your team isn't in finals contention it can become far less appealing proposition. And the stats support that perception, there's big variation in AFL crowds depending how the team is travelling.

Of course it's harder to turn a winter sport into an entertainment proposition, especially when most grounds outdoors. Compared to an indoor arena sport in summer

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Two months ago

That ticket-per-transaction stat could also reflect the reduced diversity compared to other sports

Like with AFL, there's multiple teams in each city. More AFL teams than NBL.

So if you're going to games with friends and family, you're all going for the same team. The NBL fans I know support United or SEM (obviously!). Whereas with footy, I support a small club (St Kilda) so would only attend games with my Dad who's also a Saints fan. Unless I go to a game with a mate who supports the opposition. ie Smaller number of tickets per transaction.

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Two months ago

And to add one more point, basketball is less tribal. I'd happily attend an SEM game if a friend invited me (and back in the day before kids and I had more time, I'd go to Dragons games even though I was a Tigers fan)

Whereas I wouldnt attend an AFL game of a team other than St Kilda, it'd feel too weird

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Two months ago

Nice article and good to see a decent main stream media story on it (rather than the puff pieces that the NBL hype machine give us) so its got some perspective with facts and stats.

Also, finally some acknowledgement that the NBL is right up there with the A-League. I'd say it's better run also. Maybe the A-League should have a look in the rear vision mirror because they will be overtaken eventually. A bit of humble pie for that competition would be nice for them.

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Two months ago

basketball is definitely a better kid friendly proposition than any other sport (probably even with netball)
- inside
- relatively quick
- close to the action
- lots of stuff happening all the time.

The league has clearly done a good job getting kids in, but I think thats generally been the most fertile ground for the league. The problem has always been retention when the kids grow up and the families move on.

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Two months ago

Basketball has a pathway now, ten year ago it was a path the afl or college. Next stars, nbl1, more recognition from US college plus much more exposure in Asia and Europe.

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Two months ago

Let's face it the A-League are struggling big time so outperforming them isn't exactly amazing.

Wildcats have been surpassing the Glory's average attendance for a decade now. How sad for football in this country.

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Two months ago

I remember when the Glory were the hottest ticket in Perth. They would get 13000 packed easily. That same era, the Wildcats were starting to struggle for crowds and relevancy. PEC was getting about 4-5000. The Glory had a lift out in the West, the Wildcats had a footnote in the general sports pages.

It got worse when the Wildcats moved to Challenge Stadium. The Glory were still putting in big crowds while the Wildcats looked to be in serious trouble.

Last 10 years however - the complete reversal. Now, all my Glory friends from back then prefer going to Wildcats games now.

Yeah the A-League is struggling now. But they still have a strong sense of arrogance about them.

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