Monday, May 18, 2009

Is Hoops & Soccer In The Same Boat?

I hate to compare the NBL to A-League but it is amazing how they almost mirror each other.

I came across this article by Gary Lord of FourFourTwo. An interesting read which I'm sure will spark some debate.

I USED to play a bit of basketball, way back in the day. It's a great game - fast and athletic, but (warning to kids) it does take a toll on your knees.

I played for the old City Of Sydney club, which later became the Sydney Supersonics. The Sonics then became the much-vaunted Sydney Kings, in a big blaze of publicity. But the Kings failed to win the league year after year after year, until finally the Sydney public simply lost interest.

The purple-clad Kings were dubbed "the Violet Crumbles" because of the way they shattered under pressure. Despite a dazzling lineup of stars and big-time investors, it took them 15 years to win a championship.By 2007, when Tim "Firepower" Johnston bought the club for $2 million, the marketing momentum of the "new" sport in Sydney was already dead in the water. A few years later, the club's licence was revoked, with around $265,000 in unpaid players' wages, and the disgraced owner fled into hiding (journos tracked him down in London two years later).

Of course, the Sydney Kings were not the only basketball team beset by perennial financial troubles, and now the economic chickens have come home to roost. This week the National Basketball League (NBL) announced a 2009/10 competition that did not feature a single team from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane. Most insiders agree the new seven team model is unsustainable. Legendary player and coach Phil Smyth has questioned whether basketball can even survive as a full-time professional sport in Australia.

Basketball officials are now seeking a new model for their sport, and looking to the A-League for inspiration But the A-League, as we all know, is having a few troubles of its own. Brisbane and Adelaide have both required FFA financial rescue packages, and the Jets also seem to be floundering. So is the A-League doomed to follow the NBL's downward arc?

Not if you believe Ben Buckley. The FFA chief insists that the Roar and the Reds are just having a few temporary difficulties, the A-League is in great shape, and everything will soon be apples again.But is that the gospel truth, or just a timely bit of spin?

I guess it all depends on how bad you think the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) is going to get. Our bankers and politicians are always speaking about "glimmers of hope", corners being turned, and brighter days just over the horizon. But they would say that, wouldn't they?

The people who will really decide when this crisis ends are the big investors, the guys who pony up their cold hard cash to keep the merry-go-round spinning. And right now they all seem to be hurting.

The latest list of Australia's 40 richest people doesn't even mention Clive Palmer, whose wealth is locked under the Pilbara and in an unlisted private company. But fellow mining magnate Andrew Forrest lost $5 billion, and the number of billionaires in Australia fell by half, so you can bet the pain is being shared all round. Even Frank Lowy has taken a big loss, with his estimated wealth falling from $US4.4 billion to $US2.9 billion.

Football fans, players, and club officials in Australia and around the world simply have to deal with this harsh new economic reality. But there's no reason to panic. At least, not just yet.

Money is basically just a big illusion, a shared fantasy that is underscored by trust. If I say that this piece of paper is worth two donkeys and you agree, then we have a working monetary system. If we can get our whole village to agree on the paper system, then we can all stop carrying donkeys around. But once people stop trusting the paper and demand to see real donkeys again, things go back to square one. The GFC is basically just a huge crisis of confidence. Trust has fallen through the floor. Everyone is demanding to see donkeys again, and a lot of worthless paper is being tossed on the bonfire.

But Ben Buckley is right when he says that Australian football is in a (relatively) good position. We have a huge registered player base across the nation, our clubs were all "stress-tested" for financial viability before they joined the league, we have contracts in place for players, stadiums and TV coverage, and so forth. Lots of donkeys out on the pitch, folks! LOL

Australia's football future should be fine, unless a global famine sets in and people start slaughtering donkeys for food. If that happens, a few professional players might need to go and get "real" jobs, and the FFA could just possibly end up like the NBL. The parallels between the Brisbane Roar and the Sydney Kings (also called the "Cardiac Kings" because of their penchant for exciting finishes, never mind the results) bear consideration.

For those of us who remember the old days, it's all kind of ironic. Before the NBL came along, the idea that anyone in Australia would ever make a living playing basketball was just laughable.

Sure, there were big stars like Doctor J and Larry Bird making millions in the USA, but there was no way an Aussie kid was ever going to make it over there - at least until they did. And there was no way our kids could make a living playing basketball in Australia - until they could.

I'm sure a lot of old Aussie footballers can relate to that sentiment. Even back in the 1980s, when Craig Johnston was playing on the wing for Liverpool, the idea that we would have a flourishing professional league in Australia seemed fanciful. Now it seems hard to imagine that it could disappear. But then again, it's hard to imagine Clive Palmer as a skinny, unemployed youngster lacking confidence and self-belief. Times change!

They say you don't know what you've got till it's gone. Let's all make sure we enjoy the coming season!


ClintDogg said...

In The Same Boat?.

Far from it.

When the soccer took the year off, they pitched and idea or vision to make the a-league, basketball already has the product for that vision.

They are totally different.

Anonymous said...

could the crocs quit the nbl by the end of the week for something eles ??

Clint Donkey said...

I didnt swear in my post....
WHy deleted?
Not coming back lost a fan