Sunday, Jul 21, 2019
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New basketball chief faces test of maximizing financial potential

Last week, the top leadership of the Bahamas Basketball Federation (BBF) changed. In a smooth transition, Mario Bowleg succeeded Charlie “Softly” Robins, the three-term president, and he now has the huge burden of taking the basketball product to the height of its financial potential.

Basketball, unlike any other sports discipline in the country, has one mega event (Battle 4 Atlantis); and two other collegiate-flavored events (Summer of Thunder and Junkanoo Jam) at its disposal. The BBF settled years ago, it has been reported, for a meagre $10,000 from organizers of the huge National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)-endorsed Battle 4 Atlantis.

The BBF endorsement fees for the other two figures to be much lower. For quite a number of years, basketball folks have been agitating for the BBF to renegotiate terms for endorsement of the events. In the case of the Battle 4 Atlantis, the high-profile institutions that send teams, are said to be handsomely rewarded, far beyond what the BBF gets.

I have pointed out the imbalance in this space on more than one occasion. It is largely because of its lack of finances that the BBF has not come close to realizing its potential in terms of covering costs to fund camps and attract the best Bahamian basketball players, who are scattered all over the world in colleges and professional leagues.

Presently, two of the finest players in the National Basketball Association (NBA) are eligible to play for The Bahamas. No matter how deep the (DeAndre Ayton and Chavano “Buddy” Hield) interest is, in representing the country of their birth, accommodating them throughout a preparation period for a major competition would be costly.

Bringing in the rest of the best, available to the country, to surround Hield and Ayton, is another high financial demand.

The federation is seeking a spot at the upcoming Pan American Games in Lima, Peru (July 26 to August 11). National Coach Norris Bain has informed me that basketball has qualified, but thus far, the Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) has not been able to give confirmation.

I submit that a financially-stable BBF would not be in borderline situations when it comes to qualifying for major regional and world events. If the best Bahamian basketball talents could be brought together annually, the country would have a realistic chance to qualify for the Olympics. A strong financial base is essential, however.

This is the backdrop, financially, from which Bowleg now has to work upward. He must know that a quality legacy as basketball president hinges on how much he improves the status of the sport.

The business as usual approach won’t do. You’re the national basketball chief now, Bowleg. You’ve got a highly marketable product.

Let’s see what you are made of.

• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at e-mail address sturrup1504@gmail.com or on WhatsApp at (242) 727-6363.

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