Basketball is the fifth biggest sport among youths in UK, ahead of Rugby League and Cricket, but it is feared the sport is suffering due to a lack of funding.
Basketball is on the rise in the UK with approximately 290,000 adults taking part in the sport twice a week in 2019.
With the NBA growing in UK viewership and a new four-year TV deal with Sky Sports, the NBA even has its own British star in Toronto Raptor’s guard OG Anunoby.
It is estimated that it would cost £1m to fund British Basketball’s teams which includes all of the men’s, women’s and youth teams.
UK Sport, which is in charge of funding for all elite competitors, has not been funding basketball due to it’s low medal-winning potential.
However, Sport England has been putting an estimated £4.7m into grassroots basketball projects across the UK with this four-year scheme ending in 2021.
The current level of funding was still damaging to the growth of the sport, with GB Basketball receiving £75,000 from the left over allocation from the Aspiration Fund from UK Sport.
Manchester Giants head coach, Danny Byrne, says he has noticed an impact by the loss of UK Sport funding – and says the decision lies with the GB Olympics committee.
“If GB Basketball cut the funding then that makes our programme suffer,” Byrne said.
“GB Olympics committee is happy to fund sports where they are guaranteed medals, it’s a bit of a false economy as they are trying to look good rather than taking the risk on developing sports and young talent.”
This statement is not just the views of Danny Byrne – according to media reports a source close to UK Sport admitted the government approved-remit was to fund ‘the best chance to win medals’.
The funding problems even led to a fundraiser on GoFundMe being set up to raise £300 for a GB Men’s Basketball assistant coach’s flight to Austria to be able to join up with the rest of the team.
The future of British Basketball is hanging in the balance, but with no Olympic team at the Tokyo Olympics this summer, there might not be a team in place for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.