FIFA’s World Cup just wrapped up, but World Cup action won’t be on ice until 2018. There’s another top-level World Cup happening in a sport people actually care about happening this summer. Like, next month in fact. The 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup tips off August 30 in Granada, Spain. The United States is, as always, expected to win every international basketball competition, and Coach K and his crew will likely follow through on those expectations. Yet while FIFA’s World Cup is the single biggest thing on earth every four years, many NBA fans won’t be waking up in the morning to catch FIBA World Cup action, which this year expanded competition from 24 to 32 teams. FIFA may have its faults, but FIBA could learn a few things from their evil big brother of international sport governance.
Make sure the host nation doesn’t throw up a brick.
It’s good sport to see a country back its team on its own soil. Brazilian World Cup games were electric thanks to the atmosphere hosting fans delivered. Every kick of the ball was done at a higher intensity, and when Brazil played, the game—whether it was a Group Stage match against helpless Cameroon or a semi-final against Germany—felt like it mattered more. That’s why it sucked to see Brazil demolished 10-1 over its final two matches to bomb from heavy favorites to fourth placed afterthoughts.
This isn’t to say that the host nation should go on and run the table by divine right—it’s that getting beat 7-1 in one match is upsetting and traumatizing for everyone. FIBA appears to have hedged its bet by selecting Spain to host the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. The Spanish are the No. 2 ranked team in the world, and don’t forget, they gave Team USA a damned hard time in the 2010 Olympic Final.1 of 8
Get that flopping/diving/simulation/acting/lame shit out of here.
Nobody likes this. It’s cheating, uncool, and even if the flop fools the referee, the flopper won’t win any retrospective plaudits from anyone—just fines, suspensions, hate tweets, and potential Vine compilations and memes. FIFA doesn’t take a hard enough stance on diving in-game or with retroactive suspensions. FIBA, do one better than your big brother.
Everyone needs a cool haircut.
This is essential. Savvy sports marketers—from agents to organizations to the players—all see the value in on-court appearance. In an effort to sell sports to every person alive who has an interest in something, hair is easily translatable. NFL safety Troy Polamalu is like rich forever off of shampoo commercials. LeBron’s non-haircut/receding hairline has been a running internet joke since the dawn of Twitter. DeAndre Yedlin’s 112 minutes of electric play off the bench for the United States in this year’s World Cup might speak to why the MLS has a $6.5 million price tag on him for European suitors, but his wild hair situation might see that value increase exponentially with every new ‘do.
Unfortunately, basketball players lack the imagination of their soccer-playing counterparts when it comes to hairstyles. Even players like Pau Gasol (who should honestly know better as a beautiful Spanish athlete) are resigned to lion-like manes of unkept tangled locks. We could definitely see Kevin Durant pulling off a Cristiano Ronaldo-style design.3 of 8
The logo should be able to be flipped into a meme.
Purposely having a crappy logo designed that can easily be seen as a meme is almost like free marketing. Sure, the logo will take millions of dollars to be created by some pretentious design studio, but the legwork afterwards to spread the image is all done by the assholes of the internet. Free promotion baby. The 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup logo kind of resembles two characters from Chicken Run, so run with that, internet.
Don’t be an economic and/or communal burden on the host nation
“I spent $14 billion on the World Cup and all I got was a 7-1 loss and a flood of boos when introduced at my country’s own match”—Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. Hosting a World Cup in any sport should be an “award,” not a nightmare. Committing that amount of money to FIFA while evicting hundreds of thousands of Brazilians from their homes to build stadiums and crappy infrastructure that may or may not have legitimate future uses is just as bad as planning a major international sporting event gets.
Credit to FIBA for being ahead of the curve here. Only one $91 million arena had to be built after Spain was awarded the World Cup bid, and a first division professional basketball team in Gran Canaria already calls it home. In contrast, the $270 million stadium that Brazil built in the Amazon jungle claimed the lives of three construction workers won’t serve much future purpose, although there’s a proposal to turn it into a jail. Let’s hope that FIBA continues to operate in contrast—not in comparison—to FIFA in the economic terms of host nation selection.
Unite the global basketball community for this World Cup.
Odds are, the average NBA fan doesn’t know that there’s a basketball World Cup taking place next month. There’s a disconnect between the NBA, the Olympics, and FIBA on international basketball terms. The NBA has its own grand vision for spreading basketball globally, the Olympics thinks their men’s basketball is the shit because the NBA let’s its players play, and FIBA is out here trying to throw shade at the NBA season. Right now, the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup is seen as a preview to the competition at the 2016 Olympics, not as a main event. That should change if the hoops governing body can capitalize on national fervor.
Get that corruption shit out of here.
Google searches for “FIBA corruption” and “FIFA corruption” couldn’t be more different. The latter has millions of relevant hits, while the former spits back a squeaky clean search. Maybe FIBA isn’t relevant enough to attract greedy and exploitive individuals yet. FIFA’s continued shady operations are a true black eye for the sport and cast a pall over the legitimacy of Ws and Ls.7 of 8
Global parity is vital.
Whether or not competitive parity is important to specific leagues is up for debate, but when it comes to international tournaments, it’s no fun seeing one or two teams run over the field. This World Cup was so great because, until 7-1 happened, there was no clear favorite. Before the tournament started, championship cases could’ve been made for at least five different countries. At the 2014 FIBA World Cup, the field boils down to this: Wait to see how long Spain can hang in against the United States in the final. It’s a terribly boring foregone conclusion, even if guys like LeBron, Melo, and Chris Paul opt to sit out the trip to Spain.8 of 8