Ever since our childhood, the majority of us have played team sports, from dodgeball to football, volleyball, and of course basketball. An American-made sport, once played only in the US, basketball has risen in popularity and spread fast onto other continents. And it is easy to understand why. Fast pace, a lot of physical contacts, dribbling and shooting, made basketball really popular on local courts.
Sparking the Interest
Originally from the USA, it has expanded to other continents in a matter of decades. Some countries like Spain, Argentina, Serbia, Croatia, Russia (SSSR at first), and Lithuania, quickly adopted the sport and became powerhouses on their own. However, not until the NBA, the largest and without a doubt the best club basketball association in the world, decided to let their star players (Dream team) play on the Olympics did the popularity of the sport begin to rise.
When the rest of the world saw the level of basketball so high that first Dream team obliterated rest of the opponents by 44 points average margin on the road to the gold medal, everything changed for basketball. From then on, its popularity has been increasing, and with it both the player base and the number of people betting on this sport.
Basketball courts are also easy to build and maintain and are often free to play on, unlike, for example, tennis courts, or volleyball courts whose nets require regular maintenance. That is why a lot of small open door basketball courts are being built to increase general interest in this sport among youngsters.
Not to mention that there are so many variants of the game, to the point that some of them can’t even be called basketball anymore. For example, 3vs3 variant is widely popular street version which now has its own championship and leagues.
Where Exactly Is It Popular…and Where Not so Much?
If you look at the top 10 lists of most popular sports by the fan base, basketball is not even in the top 5. It is surpassed by soccer (no surprise there), volleyball, cricket, and even table tennis! For instance, it is estimated that basketball has 800 million fans, while cricket has 2.5 billion of them! Reason for this lies in the fact that, outside the USA and Europe, there are few to none high-quality basketball leagues. And in Asia, the most populous continent, people have so far shown little interest in this sport.
However, realizing the potential for a huge new fan base, the NBA is putting serious effort into expanding into Asia. Summer camps where NBA stars go to practice with local teams and show them their skills are being organized every year in various Asian countries. Last summer, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, players of the current NBA champion, Golden State Warriors, visited China to promote the sport. And in 2017, Kevin Durant set the world record holding a basketball lesson for 3500 children in the largest training in sports history.