With it being an Olympic year and the Rio games going on a question came to me. Does the US Olympic Basketball team inspire the next generation of kids to participate in basketball? The short answer seems to be no, the Olympics do not have a direct impact on participation of the US population and their desire to play basketball.
In the previous Olympic year, overall participation actually declined in 2011 by 1.9 million and the Olympic year of 2012 showed a decrease too. Now, I understand that since the Olympics are held toward the end of the year perhaps the effects can not be seen until the following year. The years 2009 and 2013 both showed decreasing numbers from the previous year too, which indicates that the Olympics had no positive impact on basketball participation within the US.
This poses an intriguing question: Does the USA no longer celebrate our greatness in basketball due to the recent level of expectations for our teams? Data is hard to dispute and it seems on the surface that we as a society are not inspired by our Olympians to the extent that we will take action. The data only looks at all participants, and to understand the data we need to breakdown the stats. Sports are fueled by the upcoming generation and the NBA is no different, so taking a closer look at data involving kids under 18 is next.
Eyeball testing the data of kids under 18 show “large” increases in participation compared to the overall participation in basketball after Olympic years. No statistical analysis was done in concluding the data as significant, but some of the data is eye popping. There seems to be a direct relationship between the USA team taking home the gold and the number of children who participate in basketball. From the years 2008 to 2009 there was a 2 percent increase in participation among children ages 7-11 and kids between the ages of 12-17 showed an increase of 9.6 percent.
These are the kinds of numbers any organized sports body wants to see after risking their greatest stars to injury for the sake of bring home not only gold, but also support and interest among the next generation of fans and NBA hopefuls. If the NBA teams and players are going to risk themselves and their careers to play for the USA, then it is clear some type of return for the risk must be made. This data indicates that it might even be in the best interest of the NBA and NBPA to provide teams with more insurance for their players and the players themselves to help encourage our best players to go for gold.
For players, bringing home a win is no longer the only legacy they can create for themselves, but by participating in the Olympics, they can become the legendary sports idols of tomorrow.
Written by Trevor Tow
General Editor: Macy Marin