Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Grantley Bernard Is On The Money

Longtime Herald Sun basketball journalist Grantley Bernard wrote an article earlier this week that was right on the money for my liking. Below I have included the whole article for your reading enjoyment. I beleive it was that good.

CHRISTMAS is supposed to be about celebrating the birth of a religious saviour, the folklore of three wise men and the miracle it is purported to be.

What the NBL would give for a saviour, three wise men and a miracle right now.

That might be overstating the situation for a league in transition (some would say turmoil), but it needs an awakening as it heads towards its own Easter with the competition's planned resurrection.

The problem with this resurrection is a danger of merely propping up a corpse in the corner until the smell becomes too much to bear.

It is a bit like Weekend At Bernie's, but without the laughs.

Seriously, the proposed reform of basketball in Australia, especially the NBL as the masthead of the game, is not reform. It is more like an adjustment that will have the NBL, or whatever it is going to be called, heading down a familiar path.

Having scanned the 163-page report into basketball reform, most of it is about business, corporate and administration structure.

Most of it has been said before. The most visible aspect of the reform process, the NBL, its teams and games, will not change to the extent that people see change.

The report is broken into sections and sub-sections, including one entitled "Critical Initiative 2 - Create a Vibrant Showcase", followed by various ways that goal will be achieved.

It is also quite obvious how those goals may not be achieved.

* Creating a new league completely dissociated from the old NBL new name, new licenses, improved resources . . .

The new league will not be completely dissociated from the old NBL because the same teams with the same names will be involved. Maybe even the NBL name will be retained.

* Achieving a higher quality of competition with fewer teams . . .

The league is now at 10 teams and the saturation of talent means there should be more teams rather then fewer.

* Ensuring financial and operational stability through challenging club selection criteria . . .

What if only three clubs can meet the challenging selection criteria? Then what? There is no league or the selection criteria has to be compromised.

* The new NBL must be secured for the long term by a new business model that protects the financial integrity of the competition . . .

Financial integrity means spending responsibly, which means spending less, which means a reduced - not increased as recommended - salary cap and better venue deals. They are the two core financial issues killing teams.

* The selection and engagement of the best professional players in Australia . . .

Apart from Andrew Bogut, Nathan Jawai, Brad Newley, David Andersen and Matt Nielsen, the best Australian players already are in the NBL.

* The implementation of equalisation arrangements in the form of salary caps and points systems to maintain a competitive balance.

The salary and points caps are already in place. Stronger policing is needed.

There is plenty in the report, but there's nothing to really make your head snap.

Hence the interim board overseeing the reform is heading in the same old direction and is destined to go nowhere.

What has to be realised is the NBL is not the AFL or NRL or A-League. Just like America's National Hockey League is not the NFL, NBA or MLB. But the NHL has rejuvenated itself since the owners locked out the players for the entire 2004-05 season and enacted reform.

The NHL was in crisis with expiring TV contracts, small crowds and player-salary blow-outs, so the owners took action to make their business financially viable and thriving.

"It was like taking medicine that tasted awful," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman recently told Sporting News."But you knew you had to keep taking it to get better."

The NBL needs to take a big dose of reform. All it is getting is a spoonful of adjustment


Anonymous said...

JR the font you used on Bernard's article is hard to read. Can you bump up the size in future? Some of your readers are older than you. Thx

John Rillie said...

No problem. Sorry about that.

Mili said...

are you saying JR has readers older than 65??