Soccer’s #1 Opponent

– David Stern is would like to have an international basketball tournament every four years, just like soccer has the World Cup, and just like soccer Stern thinks the Olympics could be an under-23 competition.  The writer Avi Wolfman-Arent is cynical about this, seeing the move as one that undermines the basketball tournament at the Olympics.

I have questions about whether this would work.  As one of the commenters notes, the US is so much better than the rest of the world that the competition might not hold the same suspense as the World Cup, in which a good 7-8 teams can legitimately be considered contenders year-in year-out along with some darkhorses.  There is also the question of whether enough teams could fill out a 24 or 32 team tournament.  I’m guessing they would have to stick with 16, and even then there would be a drop-off after the US, Argentina, Brazil, Spain, Italy, and a few other Eastern European countries.

Nonetheless, I think Wolfman-Arent’s cynicism is misplaced.  Stern isn’t “sabotag(ing) a flourishing competition where player buy-in, competitive parity and talent level are all pointing up(.)”  He is realizing that the basketball is in a worldwide competition for athletes, and as such it needs its own elite competition which can make money that will be pumped right back into basketball development all over the world, just like FIFA does with its international tournaments (after it takes a cut for itself, of course.)  It isn’t just about the money, but about what is best for promoting the sport long-term, and I think Stern is correct that being under the Olympic umbrella ultimately diminishes the luster of the quadrennial basketball tournament and doesn’t make much business sense.








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