grayscale basketball players

Why Is Basketball Popular With UK Students?

Oscar Frost June 17, 2022

Basketball is an American sport that has taken the UK scene by storm. It is the second most popular team sport in terms of participation in the UK, being especially popular in younger communities. With more and more students wearing their team’s jersey around, it begs the question of why? Why are more young people supporting teams thousands of miles away? Here are just a few reasons why this is the case.

The rise of 2K

NBA 2K is the basketball equivalent of FIFA. Giving players the opportunity to play against friends, build teams, and have your own basketball career in the NBA makes it incredibly engaging. In terms of getting to know how to play basketball, having a hands on experience through playing the game allows for a quick uptake in the rules and strategy involved in basketball. The MyCareer feature also makes gaining knowledge of the players even easier, as your own character plays alongside the current faces in the NBA.

With the rise of video games, there has also been a rise in gaming personalities that increase the popularities of these games. A tycoon figure in the basketball gaming scene is Chris Smoove. With 5.9 million subscribers, Smoove has cemented himself as one of the largest influences in the sports gaming industry. Churning out basketball videos, influencers like him create more than enough content to both learn more about NBA 2K as a game, as well as basketball more generally.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Basketball Media

The number of basketball Instagram accounts on UK discover pages is huge. Once they are introduced into the UK, American sports tend to be well suited to growth through the utilisation of short-form content. With attention spans becoming more and more limited, the importance of short highlights for sport cannot be understated. Basketball is a perfect example of this. Rather than one or two goals per match in football, basketball sees baskets coming thick and fast – appealing to the shorter attention span.

Accounts like Ballislife and House of Highlights display these characteristics, with my own discover page being inundated with videos of Stephen Curry hitting impossible shots from all over the court. Although football does have its exciting moments, it does not have the same constant action.

The impact of lockdown should also not be ignored here. With sport being moved into the online sphere, the opportunity for basketball to expand became similar to those sports given more traction through in-person emphasis. It was just as easy to keep up with these teams across the pond as it was to follow any English football sides. With this in-person incentive being removed, the importance of online content only increased.

Of course, there are many other influences, like basketball being a featured sport at the London 2012 Olympics, but I believe that these are the main reasons for the increased popularity of basketball among UK adolescents. The combination of quick and constant action with the ease of its availability during lockdown was a perfect storm for basketball gaining traction as it never had before.

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Hi, I'm Oscar Frost, and I'm a second year History student from Oxford. I study at the University of Birmingham, and am also a sprinter in the athletics squad. Sport is my passion, but I also love writing about anything and everything that I find interesting in the student world