The NBL is clearly in a bit of disarray right now. I love the Breakers, and I’m also quite a fan of the NBL, but what’s happening right now is concerning to say the least.
On Wednesday, the Gold Coast Blaze announced that they were leaving the NBL. The team’s owners said they were pushed into a corner, given they thought they had met all the requirements to stay in the league, but the NBL wouldn’t accept that. The NBL is saying that they’re sad to see the Gold Coast Blaze leave the league, which they’re doing of their own accord. The NBL said that they had already planned a schedule for an eight-team league, which would be released on Friday (today). It’s now past 11pm in New Zealand, 9pm on the east coast of Australia, 7pm on the west coast, so it’s clearly not being released today.
If you look at the NBL Facebook page, you’ll see a bunch of fans getting very upset right now. Surprisingly, Twitter is a little more quiet. If you look at Facebook, the sentiment seems to be:
- The NBL said they wouldn’t let teams collapse again
- The NBL doesn’t treat it’s fans with respect
- The NBL needs to release this damn draw for the new season
For me, I understand yet completely disagree with the first point, agree to a point with the second and completely agree with the third.
Let’s deal with these in order. Firstly, the NBL never said they wouldn’t let teams collapse again. They said they would put rules in place around financial stability to ensure that teams weren’t collapsing half way through a season and requiring bailouts from Basketball Australia. The collapse of the Gold Coast Blaze is evidence that those rules are working – to an extent. Given I don’t know what happened in meetings with the NBL, I can’t say whether the Blaze had actually been successful in meeting the rules around financial stability as the owners say and if they did, while this is still showing those rules do work, it also shows we might have some issues with the system.
Secondly, I can see why the fans of the NBL, particularly in Australia, might be a little upset with the way they are treated by the NBL. The TV coverage they received for the 2011/12 season was well below standard. However, the NBL is certainly working on it. They renegotiated the contract they have with Network Ten to allow them to provide content that the fans want and Network Ten isn’t willing to show. What form that will take and whether it will be available for the 2012/13 season is yet to be known, but at least they’re moving on it.
Finally, the NBL definitely needs to release the new draw. As a Breakers fan, it concerns me that I’ve arranged transport from Hamilton to Auckland for Game 1 against the Blaze when that game might not be happening. The quicker they let me know what’s happening, the quicker I can sort things out for cancelling that transport or rebooking it at another point.
I want to make it clear, I am not happy to see the NBL become a eight-team league. That’s the last thing that the NBL needs as they move toward a pivotal point which could make or break the future of the NBL. I also, don’t like seeing the Blaze leave the competition, because I have a lot of respect for the Blaze team and fans – to see their fans stay behind and support their team after a defeat in Game 3 of the 2010/11 finals, and also to congratulate the Breakers in their success, was heartwarming. [Editorial: Yes, it has been pointed out to me that this was the Taipans. The sentiment still stands though – the Blaze fans have seemed to have a love for the game and be so much more genuine than the fans of some other teams] However, I would prefer to see a sustainable league than a large league. If the NBL or Basketball Australia is having to bail out teams if they fail during a season, that could be a major setback for the league. If it happens to enough teams, we could lose the league entirely. I’d prefer two teams playing 20 games than we have nothing.
It’s not a great time for the NBL, though, not because they’re doing the wrong thing, but because the fans think they’re doing the wrong thing. Fans are getting upset. They’re looking at what has been before, rather than what’s planned for the future. Hopefully this will change when we get to the new season in October. The new schedule might help too!