David Lammy MP questions reasons behind lack of basketball funding
By Sky Sports News
Last Updated: 20/02/18 4:50pm
David Lammy has asked an MPs' debate if discrimination plays a part in basketball's relative lack of public financial support when compared to other, more middle-class sports.
The debate on the sport's future funding was arranged by Alex Sobel MP, the chair of the all-party parliamentary group for basketball, and Tottenham MP Lammy was a key speaker in a well-attended 90-minute session in Westminster Hall.
In a series of points directed at Sports Minister Tracey Crouch, Lammy said basketball was a largely black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) sport in the United Kingdom and was popular in disadvantaged, urban communities.
Crouch was asked by Lammy why sports such as canoeing, cycling, equestrian, hockey, rowing and rugby league "all do so much better" in terms of public funding than "this urban sport".
"Where is the equity in that formula?" he asked.
"Can she satisfy herself that there is no unintended or unconscious bias in the way that judgements are being made about that funding?"
Crouch did not address Lammy's question about bias directly - despite other MPs also raising the matter - when she spoke towards the end of the debate, but did commit to a review of how elite sport is funded after the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Crouch also confirmed she would ask elite funding agency UK Sport to reconsider the case for funding the new Olympic format of 3-on-3 basketball as the sport's international federation, FIBA, has yet to announce the qualification process for Tokyo.
Both of those commitments had been requested by Sobel, although Crouch refused to agree to funding for Great Britain's eight men's, women's and age-group teams for the next three seasons, although she did say "this debate is not the finale of this discussion - we still have time to find a solution".
British Basketball on the brink
Great Britain's basketball teams could be disbanded because of a funding shortfall of almost £1m.
British Basketball requires £1m a year to enable the teams to fulfil their international fixtures but only has £100,000 guaranteed after March.
UK Sport has refused to fund basketball since London 2012, as it believes the sport lacks medal potential.
But Sobel said UK Sport has admitted to him that British basketball, particularly the fast-improving women's team, has medal potential within 12 years.
He also claimed the agency failed to take into account the 3-on-3 format for the sport when it made its Tokyo funding decision.
Crouch defended UK Sport's "no compromise" approach, saying it had enabled the GB Olympic and Paralympic teams to climb the medal table.
Lisa Wainwright, British Basketball chief executive, also raised concerns over the lack of funding available to the sport.
"We need about £1m for all eight teams - about £10,000 per player - to see us through the year," Wainwright told Sky Sports News.
"We hope we can do that short term until UK Sport, Sport England and the government look again at their policy on funding.
"We have done great up until 2012 but it's probably time to look at broader aims which we can contribute towards, not just medals."