User:Mchappo/Basketball in Australia compared to the USA

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As sport is such a large part of society which can unite communities and countries, what happens behind the scenes, not just in Australia but worldwide where does basketball fit and how does it compare to the United States?

This paper will discuss the differences between Australian basketball and American basketball regarding to politics and business, categories that will be covered include three stages of basketball from the grass roots to state (local), national and international levels. Some factors that separates both countries include the crawford report and government funding, the back ground to NBL and NBA, business of marketing in basketball, rules and regualations, giving back to the community, college system and current NBA lockout. The conclusion will involve the future of both leagues.


Growing up as kids we are faced with the question of what career we wanted to pursue, a lot of us would have chosen sports like AFL, NRL and football, but how many of us considered basketball?

Internationally America has set the bench mark in every aspect of the game. It is the pinnacle basketball competition in the world considering the calibre of individual and team talent with players such as Kobe Bryant and Lebron James leading their teams. Whereas Australia is struggling but is improving with up and coming players like Andrew Bogut and Patrick Mills playing overseas. Australia’s domestic competition is far from the standard of that of the NBA where there is huge amounts of money and large fan bases. This article will explore behind the scenes of both countries.

Some of the differences between Australian basketball and American basketball that will be explored regarding to politics and business, include three stages of basketball from the grass roots to state (local), national and international levels. That involve such issues as the crawford report and government funding, the back ground to NBL and NBA, business of marketing in basketball, rules and regualations, giving back to the community, college system and current NBA lockout.

Local Level[edit]

The Crawford Report was realised on the 18th November 2009 which is an independent review recently presented to the Federal Government focusing on the structure of the Australian Sporting System from community to the elite level. [1]. According to the report basketball was included alongside swimming, tennis, cricket, cycling, the football codes, netball, golf, hockey, surfing and surf lifesaving as one of the most popular sports in Australia that contributes to the “national ethos”. [2]

Funding from Australian sports commission: On the 26/11/2010 the federal sports minister Mark Arbib announced that the Australian Sports Commission would provide an additional increase of half a million dollars ($500,000) in annual funding for Basketball Australia. Larry Sengstock said “basketball can now make additional significant investment in community sport in order to help us build our capacity." [3]

Funding allocation by Basketball Australia and USA: At the local level a large focus of Basketball Australia’s funding is directed to grass root performance providing a pathway for all young basketball players. Basketball Australia is funded by Government grants, sponsorships, fundraising and memberships.

Compared to basketball Australia, USA basketball do not receive any government funding and rely on lobbying for donations and sponsorships to carry out their job of selecting, training and fielding the USA international teams effectively. As there is limited funding into the grass roots of the sport it results in local community basketball being reliant on volunteers to coach and referee games, a potential problem for the local basketball community when these volunteers can't coach and referee. [4]

Transition for Australian young elite playing college ball: A big issue with the business side of basketball Australia is the huge gap between elite state players making the step up to professional level. In the U.S their college system is the platform for elite juniors to improve and progress to the professional level, Australia has no such framework resulting in the majority of talent being scouted by colleges to go and play in the states or players sending video footage and resumes to colleges to play on scholarships. For basketball in Australia to grow and improve the level of competition there has to be a set framework to recruit national talent and keep it in the country for the national league.

Giving back to the community:The NBA has adopted an NBA cares program that believes actions speak louder than words and their main aim is to benefit communities worldwide. An example of this is present with the Cleveland Cavaliers as they are targeting northeast Ohio with an education program, ten graduating school seniors will receive a $2000 scholarship through the Cavaliers/first merit scholarship program. [5] The NBL have adopted a similar program to that of the NBA that helps the wider community and promotes community friendly behaviour. An example is present with the Melbourne Tigers where they are giving back to grass roots basketball with clinic being held and also charity work being under taken where Bo Westover had his head shaved at a Tigers home game for the world’s greatest shave and raised $6000 for the leukaemia foundation. [6]

National Level[edit]

The NBL and NBA[edit]

Michael Jordan image by Steve Lipofsky

Domestic basketball in Australia has one major competition being the National Basketball League (NBL) which its first season was held in 1979, the competition involves eight teams from all over Australia competing in a twenty round competition to which the best team teams play off in the finals and a champion team is crowned [7]. As stated before and according to (Hoopedia)[8] the governing body for basketball in Australia is Basketball Australia it was formed in 1939 and sanctions Australia’s two professional leagues being the NBL and the WNBL and also a semi professional league the ABA.

One major issue with basketball in Australia is the fact that players who play for the national team rarely feature for or don’t play in the NBL due to the lucrative contract deals overseas and the college structure for young athletes in America. An example of this is Andrew Bogut who attended the Australian Institute of sport before he was approached to play for the college of Utah in 2003-04, he was then named the number one draft pick to the Milwaukee Bucks where he signed for $75.55 million over 6 years according to (Kogoy,2008). [9]

The major basketball competition in America is the National Basketball Association (NBA) which was founded in 1946. The competition involves twenty nine teams from America and one from Canada stated in (Altius Directory,2008) [10] and each team plays eighty two games with home and away games evenly split at forty one a piece. The total games in the NBA season are 1,230 games.

One major difference in the two competitions involve the rules and regulations each follow as the NBL is aligned with the international governing body of basketball FIBA , whereas the NBA has its own set of rules and regulations. According to (Reimer,1996-2009)[11] some major differences in the rules include the three point line which is measured from the centre of the basket, the FIBA three point line is 6.25m and in high competitions 6.75m commencing in October 2010, NBA involves a 7.24m arch which intersects with parallel lines to the side line which are 6.7m away from the basket. FIBA playing time is 4x10 minute quarters and overtime periods are 5 minutes each where the NBA playing time is 4x12 minute quarters and overtime periods are 5 minutes each.

Another major difference is the game clock operations where the clock stops after every successful field goal in FIBA the last 2 minutes of the second half and any overtime period, in the NBA in every last minute of quarters 1,2,3 and the last 2 minutes in the last quarter and every time out.

The Australian and the American domestic basketball competitions are similar in their set up as both have a round robin competition format which slightly differs in the NBA due to the amount of teams and the structure of each conference. Each team plays everyone in the regular season before the top teams play in the finals series. There are also all star weekends which both the NBL and NBA are a part of which include the all star games, dunk contest and the skills contest which is composed of the star players from that current season.

The Australian and American basketball leagues can be considered to be at two different ends of the basketball spectrum. This is due to the fact that America is financially better off than Australia and can afford lucrative player salaries that attract high profile players as well as the money needed to be spent on stadiums, courts and other areas like coaching and player development. It was recorded in (Plunkett research,2005-2010)[12] that in the 2008-09 season the NBA the revenue raised by basketball associated activities was $3.2 billion. This financial stability in America is a very large part of why America is ranked 1st in the FIBA world rankings according to (FIBA,2011)[13]. The strength of the competition has been maintained over a number of years with some of the world’s best players playing in the NBA at some point in their career. Although the NBA is the pinnicle of basketball competition they are faced with uncertainty on playing the 2011-2012 season with the curent lockout.

NBA Lockout: Currently there is dispute among the owners in the NBA and the players association regarding their CBA (collective bargaining agreement). In January 2011 22 of the 30 owners claimed that they were going broke. The league wanted to decrease player’s salaries by 40% or the equivalent of $800 million. The teams replied that they wanted a soft salary cap of 58 million and a hard cap of 45 million but the union declined, then in May the players association filed a complaint to the labour board and once again the claim was dismissed. The issue of decertification came into play which allows all players to put in an antitrust claim against the league which can result in a law suit. Then in June the owners offered a flexi cap which limits salaries to 62million minus penalties but once again an agreement was not made which then the players offered back a $500 million cut in salaries over 5 years which results in 57.7% to 54.3% in revenue. The owners are becoming sick of the negotiations and put forward a $2 billion cut annually for 10years which is resulting in the 2011 and 2012 season in doubt where pre season has already been cancelled and 2 regular season games cancelled, players are beginning to sign contracts overseas to play.

Although this is not good for the sport in America, clubs from Europe, Asia and Australia will benefit as already Patty Mills is back playing for the NBL and Andrew Bogut was going to sign with the Sydney Kings but a deal wasnt able to be made due to insurance issues but has indicated to stay and help develop basketball in Australia [14]. Also the biggest stars from the NBA including LeBron James and Dwayne Wade are set to play two games in Australia as part of a world tour due to the NBA lockout, resulting in Television deals and player payments ranging from $100,000 to $1 million which is going to rase revenue of basketball in Australia, improve the image and give basketball in Australia a massive boost [15].

International Level[edit]

Australia and USA[edit]

Basketball Australia fields an international team in the FIBA competition and the Olympics, according to (FIBA,2011)[16] Australia’s national team is currently ranked 9th in the FIBA world rankings which indicates there is still some improvement for basketball in Australia to become a formidable force in world basketball, with incentives such as the $500,000 grant from Federal sports minister Mark Arbib will assist in building a stronger future for basketball.

The governing body for basketball in America is Basketball USA which was organised in 1974. Basketball USA are responsible for the selection, training and fielding of America’s teams that compete in the FIBA sponsored basketball competitions and the Olympics [17].

As the USA national team is currently ranked 1st in the FIBA world rankings this indicates that they are one of the worlds power house nations in basketball. With the huge amounts of money that is involved in American basketball it allows their organisation to fund all areas of the sport which gives basketball room to improve over time.

The difference in the rules and regulations involved with the FIBA and the NBA certainly don’t pose a problem in their domestic competition but can pose problems at an international level where for example an American team is use to a larger three point line and a team from Australia would have to readjust their shooting in international competition to compensate with the difference in rule changes.

Marketing: A big part of sport and the entertainment industry includes marketing to the basketball audience. Michael Jordan is one of the most marketed sports figures in history. Teaming up with Nike which is now a powerhouse in the sporting equipment industry came up with his own brand of shoes “Air Jordan” making Nike the number one basketball brand thanks to Jordan. With great success with the sneakers Nike spun off Jordan brand apparel.


Business, politics and sport are intrinsically linked together throughout all sports and if not coordinated together problems may arise, it has been highlighted that both Australia and America are looking to improve from the local level to the international level but there are many differences and problems that need to be overcome.

In conclusion I feel that the major difference in basketball in Australia and America is the sheer greatness of financial stability the NBA has resulting in attracting high profile players which hand in hand attracts fans and makes for a very impressive competition, even though they are in the middle of negotiations with the lockout. While Australia has a fairly relaxed season in comparison to the NBA with only eight teams America has a long season with thirty teams travelling around the country and Canada in a very crowded schedule which allows more fans to attend games to raise revenue in the sport. It is fair to say that Australian basketball has long way two go to reach the standard of American basketball but is on the improve with government grants, supporting grassroots basketball which America are lacking and signing up and coming players like the Gold Coast have with Jason Cadee before an American university has, resulting in keeping Australian talent in Australia [18].


  1. Crawford Report, Work Safe Victoria, The future of sport in Australia, 23rd November 2009, viewed 17th October 2011,,
  2. Basketball Australia, News, Sengstock welcoms Crawford Report, 17th November 2009, viewed 17 October 2011,,
  3. Basketball Australia, News, Funding boost helps Basketball's rise, 26th November 2010, viewed 17th October 2011,,
  4. USA Basketball,Donate to USA Basketball and help America’s Basketball Teams in Their Quest for Gold!, veiwed 18th October 2011,
  5. NBA, Cleveland Cavaliers, Education, Cavaliers/FirstMerit Scholarship Program, veiwed 3rd October 2011,,
  6. Basketball Australia 2010, Tigers in the community, viewed 3rd October 2011,,
  7. Basketball Australia 2010, NBL HQ, viewed 10th October 2011,
  8. Hoopedia the basketball wiki, Basketball Australia, viewed 10th October 2011,
  9. Kogoy,P 2008, Andrew Bogut signs multi million extension with Bucks, The Australian, viewed 10th October 2011,
  10. Altius Directory 2008, National Basketball Association Overview, viewed 11th October 2011,
  11. Reimer, A 1996-2009, FIBA & NBA rule differences, 11th October 2011,
  12. Plunkett Research Ltd 2005-2010, sports statistics, 11th October 2011,
  13. FIBA 2011, FIBA ranking for men, veiwed 12 October 2011,
  14. The Age, Andrew Bogut's NBL deal called off 7th October 2011, viewed 24th October 2011,
  15. Herald Sun, NBA stars may play in Australia 20 October 2011, viewed 24th October 2011,
  16. FIBA 2011, FIBA ranking for men, veiwed 12 October 2011,
  17. USA Basketball 2010, USA Basketball history, viewed 12th October 2011,
  18. Meers, D 2010, Future star Cadee sign of times, News Limited, 12th October 2011,