Australia is known for its deep love and passion for a wide variety of sports. Some seem to be ingrained in the very fabric of the country, whereas others have taken a little longer to catch on and grab the masses if you will. One such sport that took a little longer to build a fan base has been basketball, but that has completely changed, and it is now one of the fastest-growing sports. According to an AusPlay survey conducted in 2019, the sport had made its way into the top 10 and had more than one million participants. That’s no small number and even more, it went on to show that 3.5% of the country’s entire population age 15 and older were actively participating in the sport.
So, what led to this rise in interest and popularity? Let’s take a closer look at how basketball has managed to carve out a niche for itself in Australia.
It Has a Long History
Even though the popularity of the sport has only been on the rise for the past decade or so, the sport itself has a long history in Australia. While it got its start in the United States back in 1891, it didn’t take long to stretch to other countries. It was in 1897 that Australia held its first game. From there, it spread to smaller cities and towns and word got out what a fun sport it was.
It took until 1931 for the sport to set up organised associations and events, and then the Amateur Basketball Union was formed in 1939. These were all mens’ teams/leagues, however. The women had to wait until 1957 before they formed their first team. Then in 1981, the Women’s Basketball League was created, which was a milestone in itself.
Basketball continued its spread outside the professional organisations into schools, local parks, and even backyards as more and more adults and kids realised just how fun it is.
Usher In Ben Simmons
And while the sport seemed to be doing a good enough job for itself building a following, it was Ben Simmons that truly propelled it into the spotlight. Simmons, who is from Australia, is a professional basketball player who made his debut in the NBA (National Basketball Association) in the 2016/2017 season when he signed with the Philadelphia 76ers. Unfortunately, he was injured during the training camp and had to sit out the entire season.
Then finally in the 2017/2018 season, Simmons was able to hit the court and show them what he was made of. Simmons is now a force to reckoned with in the NBA and is a three-time All-Star.
All of this just helped to make basketball more well-known in the country and inject even more excitement into the game.
Basketball Has Also Made Its Way into the World of Gaming and Pop Culture
As the popularity of the sport gained momentum around the world, savvy gaming developers took notice and began releasing basketball-themed video games. Today, some of the most action-packed games are sports-related and basketball is no exception.
Basketball also happens to be one of the most popular sports to place wagers on. You don’t have to search hard to find NBA betting tips, meant to help even beginners to place a smart bet. It’s just another way for people to get in on the action.
And as for the pop culture angle, all you have to do is take a look at the amount of NBA branded merchandise that is sold, basketball equipment and gear, and memorabilia, and it’s clear that there is a robust revenue stream.
Breaking Down the Demographics
For those curious about who is actively engaging in the sport, there has been an age breakdown. The highest proportion of players are under the age of 18, but very close behind is the 18-24-year-old group. These two age groups far out-compete all other ages.
Don’t Expect the Popularity to Wane
While not every sport can maintain the same level of popularity at all times, so far basketball is showing that a slow rise to fame is the smartest possible move. The game has now become so part of everyday life that there are no signs of its popularity waning over time.