Less than a year after endless wrangling with FIBA and the International Olympic Committee to get Team Britain into the 2012 Olympic Games, governing body UK Sport seems fit to impart some slashing of the national basketball budget – this despite pressure from FIBA going into the London Games that an automatic bid for the men’s national team would be granted only with assurances that British basketball had some viable future.
An eleventh-hour debate on the basketball-funding question is slated for tonight and will be led by Conservative Party MP Stephen Mosley; an online petition created by Sam Neter of Britian-based Hoops Fix self-explanatorily called “Get UK Sport to Fund British Basketball” has over 11,650 “signatures” as of this writing.
Perhaps no one is taking the upcoming cuts more seriously than Chicago Bulls/Team Britain star Luol Deng, however. Deng today fired off a 1½-page open letter to British prime minister David Cameron in hopes of essentially saving the national program in the runup to the 2016 Olympics; the just-this-side-of-vitriolic text runs below.
It`s great to see someone defend his sport with so much passion. UK gave their best effort on the olympics and they did show some potential. I hope they get the support they need.
I was very disappointed about the financial cut because basketball has great potential in the UK. The amateur level is shocking in England at the moment, not enough British role models to make the sport a viable option for aspiring athletes either. Those who do choose to persevere must try to make their mark elsewhere, Europe or even in America, David Cameron should be investing in youth facilities and top coaches because Deng isn't going to be around forever and the sport will need a player ambassador to keep the sport relevant here.
Why do you think the sport has great potential there?
The interest level for the sport there is extremely low.
Funding isn't just cut on a whim. I'm sure there they have information to back the move. Maybe Team GB's performance this past yr did very little to raise the interest level of the sport.
I personally have no problem with cutting public funding for sports in general. There are way more important things to be spending the public's money on.
There are some very gifted athletes around who are swayed by other sports mainly football (soccer). Goalkeepers in particular demonstrate the aptitude for basketball, obviously they're great athletes but they have great communication skills/authority, they have the height but also possess the coordination. I agree that interest is very low but if there was a meaningful league which was backed with sponsorship, publicity and legitimate endorsement, basketball would be able to attract more talent and more fans. Look at darts, popularity has soared over the years because of the exposure and entertainment values, darts isn't even an Olympic sport, it's just a pub game that has simply evolved.
Basketball is an afterthought, everyone wants to be a footballer first and then a rugby player or a cricketer second. I have to say I was very underwhelmed by the exposure that basketball received during the Olympics, but even football (soccer) wasn't pushed a great deal. They failed to get their own nation excited about the games. I concur with you about the importance of making the best use out of the income from taxpayers, money should be used correctly, important issues must take priority.
I feel sorry for Luol Deng because he's trying to make the sport credible in the UK but he's not the kind of role-model that can push the sport, i'm thankful that he tried but guys like David Beckham, Andy Murray, Wayne Rooney and Lewis Hamilton are much more engaging to youngsters than Loul Deng and that stems from how much sport is in the media. There are times when football news moves from the backpage to the frontpage of newspapers, I've very seldom read an article about basketball in any newspaper because nobody really cares for it.
15 year old Mo Soluade looks like the guy that could create buzz, his game is flashier than Deng's and is already on the books in Spain. There's an exciting British 1995 class that is incoming and will be on the national team sooner rather then later. Kingsley Okoroh is another, the young bigman is currently in highschool at Findlay Prep, he's very raw but is 7'1" and 255lbs. Those two are head and shoulders above the rest of that class and look NBA bound but it's still very early to know for sure.
With Deng voted an All-Star a second time this does lend some credibility to what he's saying, I hope English basketball continues to be funded, I have a few English friends who are basketball mad and talk about how much better basketball is even here in Australia relative to Great Britain.
Deng is a legend for this. He's got a hell of a fight though for reasons already mentioned. It is most definitely better in Australia, mate lol
Funding has now been restored to basketball in Britain.