January 21, 2010

Australia planning 'IPL' of basketball

So get this: impressed by the media frenzy and commercial success of the Indian Premier League (IPL) of Twenty-20 cricket in India, the Australians are planning a similarly-themed basketball tournament to boost the games popularity in their own country.

From the Brisbane Times:

A radical $250,000 basketball tournament, being billed as the Indian Premier League of hoops, is being planned to help revitalise the sport in Australia.
The week-long tournament, to be held in Adelaide in April, will feature eight privately-owned teams competing for a cash prize and playing under amended rules to encourage high scores and entertaining play.

Teams would earn money according to how far they progress in the tournament, in the same way tennis players do.
The rule restructures are being kept under wraps but may involve cricket-style power plays, where a team is reduced by a player for a period of time, or extra incentive to score points at various stages of the game.

Some of the biggest names in Australian basketball are likely to take part, while owners also have the option of securing the services of overseas stars if deals can be reached.

Now, I've been discussing a possibility of an NBA-inspired basketball league in India for while. In my interview with Indian basketball starlet Divya Singh, Divya said that she believed "... a league will increase the competition level, provide regular games and exposure for players, and will be attractive to the fans.”

Australia already has an NBA-style National Basketball League (NBL), but now they are looking forward to emulating the success of the IPL. I think the intentions are good: more exciting basketball, marketed the right way, will increase fan interest. But this is a dangerous model for us in India should get too romanticized by. I mean, the ideas of 'powerplay' of playing five on four on the court, or points counting more at certain times of the games just make me cringe. These silly rules only end up leading real basketball towards silly exhibitionist stuff, like a Harlem Globetrotter-esque show, or worse Slamball.

An exciting thought, and I would be excited to see if, over the course of time, the BFI create something similar in their footsteps in terms of marketing and increased TV coverage, but please let's not lose the fundamentals.

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