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Top 5 Stories Of 2021: Basketball

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Top 5 Stories Of 2021: Basketball

For the fourth part of the 2021 in-review series, Ministry of Sport continues to highlight the top five stories from each major sport in 2021, this time looking at basketball.

5 – Basketball Australia Labelled ‘White Boys Club’

2021 saw an increase in diversity in Australian sports, however, in the early months of 2021, the Australian Human Rights Commission claimed Basketball Australia (BA) has a “white boys’ club” mentality.

The racial equality review conducted by the Commission involved 21 confidential submissions from past and current national players, coaches and family members, resulting in 12 recommendations for BA.

The recommendations in the review were split between three key focus areas: Leadership and Governance, Cultural Safety, and Inclusion and Pathways for Progression.

In response to the report, Basketball Australia chief executive, Jerril Rechter, acknowledged the recommendations and said action has already been taken to act on the recommendations.

“Led by the board, Basketball Australia has committed to adopting and implementing the recommendations within the report, which will also feed into the organisation’s Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan,” Rechter said.

4 – NBA Sponsorship Revenue Breaks Record

The 2021 year saw Ministry of Sport covering record breaking numbers, particularly in the NBA sponsorship business.

The NBA has reached a record US$1.46 billion (AUD$1.9 billion) in sponsorship revenue for the 2020/21 season according to a new report from IEG.

IEG global managing director, Peter Laatz, said the introduction of the NBA’s jersey patch sponsorship for teams has played a key role in the growth, as well as increased investment from the technology sector, with nearly US$115 million (AUD$153 million) attributed to new spending from technology.

“NBA sponsorship revenue is close to reaching the heights of the pre-eminent National Football League (NFL) that had total sponsorship revenue of US$1.62 billion (AUD$2.15 billion) last season,” Laatz said.

3 – Front Office Changes Aplenty

Ministry of Sport covered a wave of basketball front office changes in 2021 to our audiences, kicking it off with the resignation of Basketball Australia CEO Jerril Rechter.

Less than two weeks later, the new chief operating officer for the NBL was announced (see our 15 April article), with Vince Crevilli taking the stand.

2021 also saw Adelaide 36ers naming a new CEO in late June, taking talent from A-Leagues front office.

Nic Barbato was appointed for the position, and he most recently served as Perth Glory’s chief commercial officer, with over a decade worth of experience across Australian sport, including a stint with Sydney FC.

After the resignation of Jerril Rechter detailed above, Basketball Australia finally found its new CEO in early July after a three-month search led by consulting firm SRI.

Former Nine Melbourne managing director, Matt Scriven, was announced as the organisation’s new CEO, with Basketball Australia chair John Carey highlighting his experience in media.

“He also has an extensive network of relationships with CEO’s and CMO’s across Australia,” Carey said.

“He has significant experience in digital and social media, data activation and content creation which will be invaluable for understanding how the modern consumer or participant wants to engage with basketball,” he said.

The replacement for Vince Crevilli was announced soon after, with Melbourne United announcing the appointment of former Western Bulldogs chief commercial officer, Nick Truelson in early July.

And finally, in the 2021 Australian basketball world, we saw a new head of the WNBL appointed.

The current Melbourne Boomers general manager, Christy Collier-Hill, will be appointed the new head of the WNBL and is also currently a member of the 2022 FIBA Women’s’ Basketball World Cup marketing and communications advisory committee.

Basketball Australia CEO, Matt Scriven, showed support for the welcoming of Collier-Hill.

“Christy is a highly respected sports administrator who is well placed to drive the growth strategy of the WNBL,” Scriven said.

2 – Broadcast Deals

2021 saw the securing of multiple broadcast deals in both Australia and international basketball, kicking off in May with Amazon securing exclusive streaming rights to Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) games.

The multi-year deal awarded exclusive global streaming rights to 16 regular-season games per season making it the first professional basketball league to stream live on Amazon Prime Video.

A few months later in July, it was reported that Foxtel managed to secure NBL’s “Biggest deal in the history” of the NBL.

The deal involves a three-year agreement in which every game of the season, including finals, will be live on ESPN, Foxtel, and streaming on Kayo, with NBL owner and executive chairman, Larry Kestelman, saying: “This is the biggest deal in the history of NBL.”

The NBL also gained more exposure in the 2021 year, with the NBL and Network 10 announcing a three-year partnership that will bring the NBL back to Network 10.  

The deal replaced SBS with Network 10 as the free-to-air home broadcaster, in a deal worth a reported $45 million.

Lastly, the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) announced an extended broadcast partnership with Foxtel, Kayo and ABC covering the 2021/22 season.

Basketball Australia CEO, Matt Scriven, said: “This broadcast deal is a win for the fans who are at the heart of every decision we make.”

“The WNBL showcases the best talent in the country, and this broadcast deal ensures all the fans will have access to quality coverage throughout the season,” Scriven said.

1 – Basketball Australia’s Olympic Success

The 2021 year saw the Tokyo Olympic Games take place and the ending of the medal drought from international Australian basketball.

The Boomers took home a bronze medal, beating out Slovenia in the final game.

Ministry of Sport got in touch with Basketball Australia (BA) chair, Ned Coten, discussing the organisation’s preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in July.

In the exclusive interview, Coten discussed the resignation of BA CEO Jerril Rechter, and the role she played in preparing the organisation for the Olympics.

“We’ve got really good plans in place, and one of the things Jerril Rechter did incredibly well developed our new strategic plan, which will be launched soon,” Coten told Ministry of Sport.

To view part three of the Ministry of Sport 2021 in review series looking at the top five stories of 2021 for women in sport, click here, otherwise, keep an eye out on the Ministry of Sport website and social media channels for the next release in the series.

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