In Australia, basketball is a sport that is played both inside and outside. With more than 450 million participants in more than 200 countries, basketball is the second most popular sport in the world. One in three Australians are interested in basketball, per Sweeney Sports data. In addition, almost a million men, women, boys, and girls play basketball in Australia. Basketball is the second most popular team sport in Australia as of March 2014, according to Basketball Australia.
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Australia witnessed a golden era of basketball from the middle of the 1980s until the middle of the 1990s, when the National Basketball League reached its pinnacle of success. But during the 2000s, attendance, media coverage, corporate sponsorship, and popularity all declined. Following a record number of Australians participating in the National Basketball Association (NBA) in the United States, the sport enjoyed a resurgence of popularity starting in the mid-2010s.
The Adelaide Advertiser is the first Australian newspaper to mention a basketball game. On Wednesday, February 17, 1897, the publication announced that OBI will play YMCA in the first-ever basketball exhibition in South Australia the following Tuesday at the opening of Our Boys Institute, which was reportedly the largest gymnasium in the colonies. The first basketball game was played in Australia on Tuesday, February 23, 1897, as there is no proof that the game was played previously anywhere. Six years had passed since the sport was created on December 21, 1891, by Canadian physical education professor James Naismith, who was teaching at the International Young Men’s Christian Association Training School (YMCA) in Springfield, Massachusetts. The YMCA and OBI were at the forefront of Adelaide basketball’s growth. Basketball is still one of the most popular participation sports in the nation more than 120 years later.
League of Nations
Australia’s premier men’s basketball league, the National Basketball League (NBL), was founded in 1979. With the inflow of American athletes in the 1980s, the sport saw fast expansion. In the big cities, national competition gained popularity. In Australia, basketball had a dramatic downturn by the late 1990s. Phil Smyth, the championship coach of the Adelaide 36ers, claims that Australian basketball officials took it easy in the 1990s. Smyth claimed, “They allowed the brand to get damaged.” “It’s that old saying ‘if you keep doing the same thing over and over again hoping for a different result, you’re a fool — and basketball was foolish.” The NBL’s popularity declined in the 2000s as a result of several clubs folding, erratic crowd sizes, and erratic TV coverage of the league.
Basketball had a resurgence in popularity in 2015, with a record number of Australians participating in the NBA. Despite their misgivings about the domestic league, Australians continued to adore the game. All-time attendance records were broken, nevertheless, as a result of a resurgence in interest in the league in the late 2010s and early 2020s.
In international basketball tournaments, Australia is represented by the Boomers, a men’s basketball team. The Boomers have not won a World Cup, although they have won 19 FIBA Oceania Championships (which are no longer played), one FIBA Asia Cup, a gold medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, and a bronze medal in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Their highest result up to earning the bronze in Tokyo was fourth in the 2000, 1988, 1996, and 2016 Olympics, as well as fourth in the 2019 World Cup.
The Opals are the women’s national team. In addition to winning gold at the 2006 FIBA World Championship and bronze at the 1998, 2002, and 2014 World Cups, they have also won silver at the Olympics in 2000, 2004, and 2008 and bronze at the Olympics in 1996 and 2012.