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Tall Blacks do not matter to NZ, yeah right!

Media statement
For immediate release
Wednesday, 16 August 2006

Tall Blacks do not matter to New Zealand, yeah right!

United Future sport and recreation spokesman Gordon Copeland expressed his disappointment today at the exclusion of basketball from Sparc's high-performance list.

"For basketball to be dumped from a program with the goal of assisting 'New Zealand athletes winning in events that matter to New Zealand' seems crazy to me," stated Mr Copeland.

"When you consider that basketball is arguably the most popular sport on the planet and the Tall Blacks are proving that New Zealand can compete with the very best, this decision by Sparc seems very short-sighted."

"In China alone 300-400 million people play basketball and the upcoming World Championships will be the second most watched televised sporting event in the world.

"New Zealand's success in this sport gives our tiny nation the coverage that it would otherwise never receive in markets where rugby, cricket and netball do not even register on the sporting radar.

"The achievement of the Tall Blacks to finish fourth in the last World Championships, higher than both the United States and China, is incredible when you consider that Basketball New Zealand's total budget does not even match USA star LeBron James' NBA salary. It's the ultimate David and Goliath sports story!

"On the back of that performance the Tall Blacks deservedly won the Halberg Award for Sportsperson of the Year.

"How then can basketball be categorised as a sport that does not matter to New Zealanders a mere four years later and on the eve of the next World Championship?

"Basketball is booming in this country," says Copeland. "It is estimated that 200 000 people participate in basketball every year in New Zealand, with about 50 000 registered players.

"Sparc is wrong to leave out on a sport that is providing so much success and satisfaction for New Zealanders, whether that be through participation, or like me, simply the enjoyment of following the Tall Blacks," concluded Mr Copeland.


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