Why Does America Dominate in Basketball?
When it comes to the game of basketball, America really does do it best. From 25 Olympic gold medals to NCAA rosters that would put other countries to shame, to the NBA where the best basketball players in the world congregate to play. But just why does America dominate in basketball?
Below, we are going to review some of the reasons why America and the United States is such a powerhouse when it comes to basketball. Although the answer may seem obvious, there are a few extraneous factors that help to explain America’s dominance in the sport.
Basketball Was Invented in America
Although baseball may be America’s sport, it is basketball that was created and invented in the United States. The history of basketball is one that is deeply entrenched in the American psyche. Started by Dr. James Naismith in Springfield, Massachusetts, Naismith was looking for a way to keep his gym class active on a rainy day.
Rejecting other ideas from his assistants, Dr. Naismith would invent a game in which players would pass the ball to teammates an attempt to score points by tossing the ball into baskets which had been mounted to the wall of the gymnasium.
Although basketball would evolve considerably from those early days, it has remained one of the most popular sports in America.
Basketball Doesn’t Require Much to Get Started
Unlike hockey, football, and golf, basketball is a relatively simply sport to understand and generally requires little additional equipment to get started. Now, don’t get us wrong, getting started as a professional or minor league can be daunting and requires a substantial amount of equipment.
However, for casual players, a game of basketball can be started with a simple basketball and basketball hoop. In basketball, as compared to many other sports, little additional equipment is needed to get started and players are often seen playing pick-up games in casual clothing.
Basketball Can Be Played Individually
Furthermore, basketball is one of the only sports that can be played individually. From practicing your shooting to completing rebounding drills, basketball is not dependent on a large group of players to practice and train for. rather, some of the greatest basketball players of all-time would spend countless hours on the gym practicing alone and away from their teammates, coaches, and spectators.
For this reason, basketball has an edge over other sports. Whereas it can be difficult to practice football, baseball, or tennis without another player, basketball allows motivated and determined players to practice on their own and without the need of other players.
Basketball is Popular in America
While the global popularity of basketball is staggering, it remains one of the most beloved games in America. Named as the second favorite sport to watch, behind football, basketball still remains one of the most popular sports in the country.
In fact, NBA games garner billions of dollars in television rights and are some of the most popular games broadcast on national television. In addition, the 2021 NBA Playoffs, excluding the NBA Finals, averaged 4.25 million viewers across ABC, ESPN, and TNT, up 35% from the 2020 postseason.
And the NBA Finals performed even better. The 2021 NBA Finals averaged just under 10 million viewers, a 32% increase from the 2020 NBA Finals. And the final game between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Phoenix Suns drew an estimated 12.52 million viewers in America alone.
With such popularity in basketball and the NBA, it’s no surprise that basketball has such a strong foothold in the American psyche. Often, parents and coaches will encourage young children to pursue basketball as the sport of choice, particularly with the recent scandals plaguing American football and the NFL with regards to brain injuries.
America is Filled with Basketball Courts
Another reason that America is so dominant in basketball is due to the sheer number of basketball courts found in the country. As one of the most popular sports in the country, states, cities, and counties go to great lengths to provide basketball courts as an additional amenity for their residents.
And from a county and city perspective, basketball courts are some of the easiest and least expensive amenities they can offer. Utilizing a concrete surface and double-rims, cities and counties can offer basketball amenities for a fraction of the cost of creating a soccer, football, or tennis court.
With such a high number of basketball courts situated across the country, individuals are more likely to pick-up the sport and engage with other players for a quick game. Inevitably, some of these individuals will rise to the top and succeed in the sport at the highest level.
The NBA Offers the Highest Pay
Lastly, when it comes to America’s dominance in the sport of basketball, the simple fact of the matter is that money talks. And in America, playing in the NBA is one of the most lucrative careers a professional athlete can take.
With the average NBA player getting paid over $7.5 million per season, it’s no wonder why the sport attracts athletes from all walks of life. Being drafted to the NBA can be life changing and can result in a significant financial windfall.
As such, with money being a main motivator, many young athletes pursue the sport for the promise of riches. No other sport guarantees its professional athletes as much in lifetime earnings and the potential to make millions per year.
And the financial incentive doesn’t stop at a yearly salary. Many NBA players explore additional sponsorship opportunities, whether with big name shoe companies or with niche sports accessories to further their earnings potential.