With Canada’s first ever victory at the FIBA U19World Cup, the addition of 3×3 to the Olympics, the success of our 3×3 Canada Quest, it is only fitting to discuss the growth and increase in popularity of our favourite sport – BASKETBALL!
If you haven’t seen it all over Canada Basketball’s social media, the tv, or any other media outlet, our Men’s National team recently brought home gold after defeating Italy in the finals at the FIBA U19 World Cup in Cairo, Egypt. Now this isn’t any gold medal, it’s Canada’s first gold medal from an international basketball tournament! Our U19 team will definitely go down in history.
3×3 is considered to be the number one urban team sport, and is becoming central to the development of basketball. The simplicity of the rules and facility requirements allows the games to be hosted virtually anywhere. With this, there is no surprise that it was recently named to the Olympic basketball program, beginning at the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo. This addition to the largest sporting event only solidifies the growth of 3×3 basketball, not only in Canada, but around the world!
The 3×3 Canada Quest kicked off early May in Calgary, and to date there have been over 300 teams participating coast to coast in 6 regional events. The Canada Quest Finals were held this past weekend in the West Edmonton Mall – yes in a mall! The tournament generated a lot of interest and all throughout the tournament, people filled the standing area to watch the teams battle it out. The 3×3 action continues this weekend as Team Montreal, Team Winnipeg, and Team Saskatoon represent Canada at the FIBA World Tour in Saskatoon.
Now if these reasons aren’t enough validation of basketball’s increase in popularity, here are a couple more:
New Generations – Basketball has increased in popularity among the millennials. Studies have shown its increase to the second most followed sport, behind hockey. Basketball also has the second highest participation rate, behind soccer. These numbers will continue to be on the rise over the next 20 years.
NBA – With the franchise expansion into Canada in 1995, the team has the third highest attendance in the league. Their success over the years with players like Carter, Bosh, and Lowry, the Raptors have brought generations of basketball fans. Having such a successful team in our country also inspires younger players and motivates them to work hard in hopes of one day playing in the NBA. I can’t go without mentioning the recent Canadian drafted to the NBA. Dillon Brooks was drafted 45th overall by the Houston Rockets and immediately traded to the Memphis Grizzlies. With Brooks’ recent selection, there has now been at least one Canadian in the past eight drafts. In 2014, when Andrew Wiggins was drafted into the NBA, Canada became the first country, other than the USA, to have back to back number one draft picks. Not only was it back to back Canadian draft picks, but two number one picks from the Greater Toronto Area! This again confirms basketball’s increase in popularity, and that our Canadian players are becoming more and more competitive!
List adapted from a SportsNet article.
Elizabeth Corey is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Sport Management at the University of Ottawa. She is the Student Domestic Development Coordinator at Canada Basketball, and is the Director of Events for the University of Ottawa Sports Business Club.