You might remember there was a bit of upset from New Zealand basketball administrators and, to some degree, fans, when High Performance Sport New Zealand removed all funding from Basketball New Zealand. HPSNZ argued that with neither the woman’s nor men’s teams qualifying for the Olympics, they didn’t deserve the funding. Look at Australia – both of their teams were there, with the women’s team getting third place.
I’m not going to start trying to sell the idea of HPSNZ funding on a flip of a coin or something like that. I get that they need something objective they can fund on, and in 2012 the easiest thing to go with was performance at the Olympics. However, it’s really important that we remember national bodies are funding and organising more than just the national teams. They have involvement at all levels of the game and all levels of the game have an influence on them.
This includes teams playing in overseas competitions. In basketball, that’s the Breakers. In football, that’s the Phoenix. In rugby league, that’s the Warriors. Sure, the Phoenix and Warriors would almost certainly result in cuts to their national body’s funding, but hey, maybe that’s one way to get someone putting a boot in their backsides.
But with the Breakers, surely Basketball New Zealand would be one of the top funded bodies if the Breakers were considered. Sellout after sellout at the North Shore Events Centre – in fact every regular season game at the NSEC was sold out. A couple sellouts at Vector Arena too. 16 straight wins. Last season, from memory, all four playoff games at Vector Arena sold out. Oh yeah, back-to-back titles and three straight minor premierships too – possibly only the second team in NBL history to get a 3peat in a few weeks too.
The rest of the world sees that the Breakers doing well is going to flow into the Tall Blacks, simply because the Breakers have so much homegrown talent. The Tall Blacks and the Breakers have almost identical teams. An article on the FIBA website from a few days ago actually covered this quite well. The future of basketball in New Zealand is looking so very bright – if someone, whether it be HPSNZ or a corporate backer, financially supports Basketball New Zealand. If Basketball New Zealand doesn’t have the finances though, we end up without the brilliant future of basketball that the people who have got basketball to where it is now deserve.
No organisation can continue to exist on nothing. Sport should be about the sport, so having to corporatise basketball would be disappointing, but it wouldn’t be uncommon. That’s how the Breakers got the funding they needed and it has worked amazingly for them. Look at some of the world’s biggest basketball franchises out of the NBA. They’re covered in corporate logos. It would be nice for High Performance Sport New Zealand to actually do their job, but all else failing, there is other options. Here’s hoping Basketball New Zealand takes one.