After a very busy evening reading a lengthy and continuous Twitter conversation between quite a few individuals, Can Ball Ray has put together the interesting point that was being discussed here about Canadian Content, or currently lack thereof, in the newly formed NBL Canada ...
There was a whole lot of chatter last night on Twitter about the National Basketball League of Canada and for good reason: There seemed to be a rash of Canadians being cut from the Canadian teams. That was enough to start a whole, big, long discussion amongst a few basketball fans and coaches and it got pretty serious.
Now I normally let this types of talks play out and enjoy chuckling at the things that come out of them and usually they are some really ridiculous ideas on how to improve a situation like throw money at the problem (when there isn’t any money to through in the first place) for instance. But last night’s ranting got me thinking about the NBLC’s current mandate for Canadian players and these guys had a very valid point: why is there only a mandated two blue blooded Canadians per team.
There were a lot of very good Canadian players on training camp rosters and there was much optimism for them actually making opening day rosters. There were many familiar names on these training camp rosters like Antwi Antuahene who was a Senior Men’s National Team invites this summer and Sherone Edwards who was a star at UPEI the previous year. Both were released in the last few days and this calls into question just how committed to the Canadian ball player the teams and the league are.
Now this is not to say that either these particular players, or other Canucks, were cut because they were not very good or that there weren't other factors. That really isn’t the big concern here. The concern raised by those in the Twitter dialogue was that if this is a Canadian basketball league based in Canada, why were there not more Canadians playing on these teams?
The mandated two Canadians are nice to have but if the league cannot protect the Canadian content by this way then maybe the league should look to increase the mandatory amount of Canucks for each team in the very near future.
The league has stated that it wants to be a landscape to build and cultivate Canadian basketball talent. But without more Canadians, how are they exactly developing talent – two players at a time? That will not cut it I would think.
Now, I understand that there is a need to be competitive and a competitive product breeds success. Success should then breed fans that will in turn breed survival through increased revenue. But in a case where there is a burgeoning league in a country that for the most part doesn’t have a very deep historical basketball culture, I think there is an even greater need for said league to attach itself to the Canadian players that can play at this level.
But I temper that with some realism. Am I saying stock the entire roster with Canadians right now, no of course not. As much as I’d like to see it happen that is not the best thing to do, at least at this juncture. As a basketball country, we’re not at that level yet with this league and really if you’re good enough to play overseas than you’re likely playing there for more money. At least an increase in the amount of Canadian content on the rosters would be a solid move in that direction. Stocking the teams with recognizable, homegrown guys is a good starting point to draw in the local audience. I can’t imagine that a player who is from Oshawa, or the surrounding area, wouldn’t draw a few more people there to specifically see him play. Likewise for a kid on the roster for Quebec who’s from Quebec and well you get my point.
I think the teams, like many others I’m sure, at this stage are missing the point. Having more Canadians on the roster would do nothing but increase the connection that the fans would have to the team and ultimately the league thus breading support. I know that not all players are capable of playing competitively at this level and that’s just how it is but there should be a concerted effort to draw had and retain the players that can of who hail from some part of our great country.
Someone suggested a move to a European league type set up – all locals and two or three imports. I like that idea but I don’t think that is feasible right now. The talent level isn’t there just yet in my opinion nor is the money there to compete for those who are playing in Europe right now. I would think that down the road that would be a great option though but right now that’s not the reality.
We can’t breed interest in a Canadian basketball league if there is nothing to draw the Canadian basketball fan to it other than the fact that the NBA is still in a lockout. No matter how high the quality of ball is this is not the NBA. The lack of the elite of the elite basketball players with instant name recognition requires another way to draw and captivate and I think this league will only get through year two and beyond if the Canadian content is increased. And as basketball loving Canucks, I feel we should all (and by that "we" I mean everyone from coast to coast) be better represented on the league rosters.
You can check out the NBL Canada at their website here. You can also check out the individual team site there also.