What a shame that UK Sport has stripped basketball of its elite funding

Inner-city kids are unlikely to turn to well-funded sports like rowing or sailing

Share

If you’re one of the thousands of kids with Olympic hoop dreams it looks like you’ll have to cancel them. Basketball has again been stripped of its elite funding.

Hoops have popped up on playgrounds all over the Britain. And wherever they are you’ll likely see multi-racial groups of kids trying to emulate LeBron James and the other stars of the America’s National Basketball Association.

But sadly it seems that this is not enough 

The more talented among those kids will have to seek alternatives if they want to pursue Olympic ambitions, unless they can find a way to get in front of scouts from American universities. 

Like, perhaps, sailing. Or maybe rowing.

Here’s the problem. There aren’t many sailing or rowing clubs in inner-city Britain, where much of the best young basketball talent is to be found. 

These are, for better or for worse, middle-class sports, that tend to be taken up by kids in comparatively well-to-do areas. You need specialist equipment to get involved. It’s true that you might not have to buy it, but hiring still costs money - certainly a lot more money than the price of a basketball which you can throw at a free hoop. 

If the kids who can afford to get in at ground level prove to have elite potential then they can get funding to carry on with their sports. The sort of kids who shoot hoops for fun are left out. Does that seem right?

Look, this should not be seen as an attack on those sports. Far from it. I’m not here to decry our promising sailors or rowers. I also think that it’s great that they provide us with so many golds come Games time. I watched both sports on the highlights, and sometimes on live TV, at the last Games and I’ll do so again. Like much of the rest of country I’ll loudly cheer the participants from Team GB on.

I don’t even blame UK Sport for concentrating its resources on those sports where we stand the best chance of winning (the poor chance of medalling led to basketball’s defenestration).  The supply of money is not limitless and, as a result, it makes sense to play to our strengths.

The proof of that pudding is in the eating. From the dismal single gold medal in Atlanta, the count jumped to 11 in Sydney, slipped back to 9 in Athens, before leaping to 19 in Beijing, followed by a bravura 29 in London.

 

Basketball was always going to struggle to be part of that tally, or of future tallies if we’re honest. The US is utterly dominant (although they have been shocked in the past) and battling for silver and bronze are a host other nations with established and competitive leagues that attract decent crowds. By contrast we’re a poor relation.

It’s also a team sport with just one set of men’s and one set of women’s medals and team sports are expensive to fund by comparison to individual events. 

But there are still very good reasons for making basketball a special case. Many of the kids who play won’t have much opportunity to get involved in sport beyond it and the ever-ubiquitous football. Don’t they deserve inspiration?

Is it worth pointing out here that much of UK Sport’s funding comes from the National Lottery, whose tickets are more likely to be bought by those kids’ parents as opposed to the parents of kids who sail, or row? 

I declare an interest here. I love basketball, and play the wheelchair version, which still gets funding for the Paralympics, where there is the prospect of success at the Rio games.

So those with of us with disabilities (wheelchair basketball is open to all but not at elite level) are okay but our able bodied cousins are on the outside looking in. That’s not something you can say very often. 

All the same, UK Sport’s decision is wrong and it needs to think again, because less fortunate kids should have a shot at Olympic funding too. It’s called Sport for All. Remember that?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Female Support Workers / Carers - From £8.00 per hour

£8 - £12 per hour: Recruitment Genius: To assist a young family with the care ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Executive is required...

Argyll Scott International: Commercial Finance Manager

£55000 - £70000 per annum: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world lead...

Argyll Scott International: Commercial Finance Manager

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world leading services pr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Police officers attempt to stop illegal migrants from jumping onto trucks headed for Britain in the northeastern French port of Calais on October 29, 2014  

Tighter security in Calais won’t solve the problem

Nigel Morris
 

Football needs its Martin Luther moment, and soon

Boyd Tonkin
US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines