JOINT PRESS RELEASE: Australia’s basketball community has established a taskforce to tackle the challenges from grassroots to elite competitions caused by the ongoing impact of COVID-19.
Basketball Australia, States and Territories, NBL, WNBL, NBL1, clubs, ABPA and players have come together to build a comprehensive plan to restart the sport when the threat of COVID-19 eases.
The taskforce will be led by Basketball Australia Chair Ned Coten and the Owner and Executive Chairman of the NBL Larry Kestelman and include prominent members of the basketball and business communities.
Allan Yates, Nicola Ellis, Tony Hallam, ABPA CEO Jacob Holmes, Brian Delaney and Jerril Rechter will represent basketball and they will be joined by independent business figures Ruffy Geminder, Diane Smith-Gander and Rickard Gardell.
Chair of Basketball Australia Ned Coten said: “We are very mindful of the millions of Australians doing it tough and, quite rightly, they are the number one priority support right now, particularly those who have lost their jobs and are suffering financial hardship.
“Basketball is not immune to the impact of the COVID-19 and, like the rest of the community, we need to do everything we can to get through these challenging times but also work together to restart the sport when the time is right.
“Basketball is one of Australia’s highest participation sports with over 1.5 million active participants. It is the number one family sport, is incredibly inclusive and diverse and is a source of enjoyment across all levels of the community. Importantly, 38% of our participants are female and we have two of the leading men’s and women’s leagues in the world in the NBL and WNBL.
“The game employs tens of thousands of people across the country and generates significant economic impact as well as a range of health and social benefits for the wider community across both genders and all ages that will be needed more than ever as we recover.”
The Owner and Executive Chairman of the NBL Larry Kestelman said: “Unlike other sports, basketball leagues do not derive the bulk of their revenue from broadcast agreements. With a significant amount of Australian homes now having a basketball hoop in the backyard, the sport can play a crucial role in getting the country active and back to normal, but we need help more than ever.
“Under the restrictions imposed by COVID-19, the sport has come to standstill for now. This includes not just the NBL and WNBL but also Australia’s premier winter league NBL1, the 3x3Hustle and all community and grassroots leagues right around the country.
“The NBL attracted almost one million people last season and is now widely considered the second-best domestic basketball league in the world after the NBA. We are an entertainment product built for live attendances.
“Unlike other codes, basketball cannot fall back on revenue from television if restrictions are still in place to crowds and would need assistance. We are not seeking special priority but rather simply asking not to be forgotten to ensure we can continue to deliver the sport that we and so many Australians love.”
The taskforce will consult with all areas of the sport to develop the recovery program for Australian basketball.