House of Commons Library

The future of basketball in the UK

Published Friday, February 16, 2018

A Westminster Hall debate on The future of basketball in the UK is scheduled for Tuesday 20 February 2018 at 9.30am. The Member leading the debate is Alex Sobel MP, a member of the Backbench Business Committee. The debate was appointed on the recommendation of the Backbench Business Committee.

Jump to full report >>

Structure of basketball 

Basketball England is the national governing body for basketball in England. The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) is the international governing body. The British Basketball Federation (BBF) is responsible for British teams playing in FIBA competitions.

Basketball strategy 2016-2028 

In 2016, the BBF, Basketball England, Basketball Scotland and Basketball Wales launched a new strategy for the sport. The aim is “to unify all major partners in Britain to work together to build the sport from grassroots to world class GB teams by engaging people in the sport”. 

The strategy claims that successful delivery of its objectives “will leave the sport healthy, competitive and enjoyed by millions of fans and players across Britain”. It also says that transforming basketball in Britain “will create positive social impacts on individuals and communities”. 

Further information and updates on the strategy are available from a “Future of basketball” website.

All Party Parliamentary Group on Basketball

There is an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Basketball. Its purpose is “to promote the development of the sport of basketball at all levels in the UK”.  In July 2014, the APPG published a report on “the ability of basketball to make a difference to the social challenges affecting young people, particularly in the UK’s inner cities”. 

According to the report, a combination of the sport’s characteristics make basketball unique to the challenges of inner city communities. These include the facts that basketball:

  • is very physical and athletic, while essentially non-contact;
  • appeals to and is played by both sexes;
  • has huge street credibility, globally;
  • is perceived as being ‘cool’;
  • has a strong affinity to music and lifestyle;
  • can be played with very little in terms of equipment, space or money;
  • is a team game, but one which can be played and skills honed as an individual;
  • has a global community with many routes to achieve success locally, nationally, in European clubs, in US colleges, and for the very few, in the NBA;
  • lays claim to almost all of the top players being from deprived communities;
  • requires a route to success almost exclusively through further education, because of the unique role of US colleges in global talent development, and the increasing role of UK universities, which are recognising basketball as a way of enticing overseas students;
  • features global superstars who are primarily BME; and
  • boasts professional players who are exceptional proponents of the value of education, aspiration and sport as a route to success, unlike any other relevant sport. 

Participation in basketball 

Based on Sport England’s Active Lives Survey under 1% of population participated in Basketball at least twice over the last 28 days prior to survey. This puts basketball in a lowest third of the top 25 sport activities by participation. Just under 8% of respondents participated in teams sports overall.

The Active People Survey data suggested that 231,000 people participated in basketball monthly in 2015/16, compared to 330,000 thousand in 2007/08. Weekly participation decreased from 186,000 to 151,000 over the same period (see chart below). (Note that Active Lives and Active People surveys are not comparable due to changes in methodology. For more information refer to the House of Commons Library briefing - Sport participation in England.)

Data sources for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are available in section 2.2.

Commons Debate packs CDP-2018-0034

Authors: John Woodhouse; Lukas Audickas; Sarah Pepin

Topic: Sports and Olympic Games

Share this page

Stay up to date

House of Commons Library

The House of Commons Library provides research, analysis and information services for MPs and their staff.