Basketball is played by millions of people around the world and it is considered the fastest-growing sport with its popularity rising each year globally.
How many people in the world play basketball? FIBA states that at least 450 million people worldwide are playing basketball today. There are 213 countries that have professional basketball leagues and national teams and is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world. It is also estimated that China has over 300 million Chinese people playing the sport as of right now.
Although these are just estimates, the game of basketball is fairly cheap and easy to get a game going. The popularity of basketball has grown also due to the way the National Basketball Association (NBA) markets its product Internationally.
Quick Fact: F.I.B.A stands for Fédération Internationale de Basketball
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Why basketball is so popular?
Basketball is one of the few team sports that you can watch then get off your butt, head over to the court where people are playing, and join in. People young and old take up playing basketball because its fun, challenging and you get a great workout without even realizing it. You don’t need any special equipment or a certain amount of players to get a game going. There are so many games you can play and even create. From 1 on 1 to five on five there’s always a game ready to be played. You can even go to a hoop and play by yourself. Yeah, I know maybe not as much fun as with some friends but try creating some games on your own if there’s no one to play with. Need some ideas click here for basketball games you can play on your own.
The game of basketball is an easy game to learn the rules but difficult to play, that’s the challenge for us all. But the game is nothing short of exciting, as you can be right in the action immediately. The best part about basketball is that you can learn to play while having fun, the health benefits are great to get you in shape and lose a couple of extra pounds while you play without even realizing it. For every hour of play, you can burn anywhere from 200 to 800 calories depending on how hard you work your body. It’s an excellent way to meet new people when you are on a basketball team with four other players. I can’t tell you how many people I met through the game of basketball.
But what exactly makes the sports so popular as it’s a difficult sport to excel at and play?
Growing up I love the game of basketball, as kids, we would shoot the ball at anything a street sign, a garbage bin, it didn’t matter we just love to play the game. I couldn’t afford to play any sport that involved a lot of money. Basketball was the cheapest sport for me to play, it was free all you needed was a basketball. We had basketball hoops and courts everywhere. My friends also had back yard hoops, the adjustable kind that I would go play on all the time and do all sorts of dunks on. Going to a park and getting a game going was relatively easy.
My love for the game grew further watching the NBA in an era where Michael Jordan was dominating his competition and winning title after title. As kids, we would replicate his moves whether it be dunks, fadeaways, or impossible layups, that was the fun of it. We would have games where I was Jordan and my friend was Charles Barkley and vice versa. Usually, you would do the moves that the player you were mimicking was known for.
The NBA is very smart and how they promote their product. They are constantly finding ways to entertain and create new fan bases in different countries. Especially to young kids, the Superstar players in the N.B.A. alone are some of the most popular athletes in the world. This alone attracts spectators to the sport and these players are celebrities by default. Every kid wants their shoe and every kid wants to be them.
The Growing of International stars in the NBA
According to the N.B.A., there are 108 international players from 38 countries and territories. While there are 450 players in the N.B.A across all teams in the league, International players account for just over 25 percent. That is remarkable in which at a time most of the NBA thought scouts were wasting their time overseas or across the border searching for International talent. This is just not the case anymore. Click here for the list of International Players that play in the N.B.A. and you will be taken to the N.B.A. website.
This has me thinking about what one player can do to change a country’s interest in the game if he becomes successful and makes it into the league. Because now that player’s home country has a reason to follow their the game and track these players moves hoping he has success. This gets more people interested even kids, this player is a role model.
Making it into the NBA is an Impossible Dream just based on statistics alone, it’s 3 in 10000 chance or 0.03 %. That’s 10000 really good players I would imagine. The odds of making the N.B.A from overseas is even greater, if you are not playing Division 1 basketball you must dominate the professional league as someone who is very young or at least someone who shows promise. Scouts are constantly looking for the next Greek freak and they will go far and wide to find him. Are you him?
Will the N.B.A have an International team in the league?
There have been rumors for years that the NBA was going to add a foreign team to the league. But it was quite obvious that traveling would be an issue for players and teams especially for the foreign teams as most of the games away would be in the United States. It would have to make sense to have stretches of games away overseas and stretches of games at home in the U.S. Either way the solution would be difficult to make simple with the schedule of an 82-game season.
Quick Fact: The NBA has been playing exhibition games in Europe since 1978.
But if they somehow could make this work it would be the reason for many new fans to watch the N.B.A. and alongside with and more kids would picking up the game of basketball to play.
In Canada, we have one team the Toronto Raptors and every province in Canada is cheering for them to win the championship every year. 38 million people 10 different provinces cheering for the Raptors, now if this was hockey it’s a completely different story. I could imagine that if you had one European team it would be the same as many of the other countries would cheer their European friends on.
Yao Ming Effect
Yao Ming is a classic example of a successful basketball player that stood at seven-foot five inches tall, all the way from the other side of the world, China. He became the first Chinese basketball player to make the NBA. Soon followed was a huge market for the NBA. Yao Ming had the whole country of china on his back of almost 1.4 billion following his every move. Do you know how many jerseys he probably sold?
Yao Ming played for the Houston Rockets, while every basketball game Houston played it was broadcasted on tv in China. Although it would be early in the morning because of the different time zones. Yao was actually really good and Houston was making the playoffs almost every year, how they did is another story.
The success of Yao Ming has the NBA forming and funding academies in China and in India, you could probably guess that the reason for this is the number of people that reside in China and India. If they could just get a drop of the market in India it’s big money. These academies are where the best players in those countries play, train, go to school and live basketball.
You could imagine what the NBA is trying to do, billions of people in China and India if they can just get another player to be good enough to make it to the NBA you get the Yao Ming effect. China already loves the game. But India is still far behind they have their cricket and soccer which makes it two of the most popular sports in the world.
If the NBA can find that one player in India to uplift the country, it will spark a trend of one of their own playing basketball at the highest level. The NBA would love to capitalize on this as it did with Yao Ming.
India almost had their man but he fell short in 2016, but he was a 7’2 basketball player named Satnam Singh who almost fulfilled a dream. You can check out this documentary on Netflix called “One In A Billion”. The issue with the academy that he was in is they don’t always have the best coaches and we are talking about coaches that have coached at a high level. A Coach that knows what it takes to get to the pros. While also playing someone his own height to gain that experience.
The days are over for just being tall in the NBA, at 7 foot five with little to no skill isn’t going to happen, as players who are over 7 feet seem to be able to dribble and shoot better than the smaller guards in today’s N.B.A.