One thing which is sometimes repeated to the point of cliché is that sport breaks down the barriers of colour, race, ethnicity, religion and language. The thing is, it’s largely true.
Take a look at the World Championships or Olympics, where athletes of all creeds and backgrounds come together in the spirit of sporting achievement and international competition. Alternatively, take a look at the current make-up of America’s National Basketball Association… this season will see the first ever NBA regular season games played in Europe (following in the footsteps of the USA’s National Football League). The NBA regularly sends athletes to the farthest reaches of the world to provide inspiration through the Basketball Without Borders program. Meanwhile, what was once an American professional game is broadcast in numerous languages right across the world and features 84 international players from 38 countries (as at the start of the 2010/11 season).
Those players come together through the spirit of sport, making friendships, forming rivalries and decreasing ignorance of foreign cultures along the way. A perfect example of this mixing pot can be seen with the Portland Trail Blazers’ group of buddies comprised of Australian Patty Mills, Spain’s Rudy Fernandez and Frenchman Nicolas Batum. The trio have been of great support to each other, in what is a surprising mixture of ethnicities from varied backgrounds.
Of course, this melting pot can occur on more micro levels as well. It can bring sub-cultures together, in one community. And it regularly does, when any group of kids get together for a pickup game of basketball on a street court. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve done it myself and no doubt you have seen the same scenario played out numerous times. A person’s background, colour and socio-economic group matter little when you are putting together a collection of people to play some hoops.
The Sydney Kings have long been a gathering force in bringing together the various sub-communities of Sydney. Playing out of the city’s Chinatown, on game night Anglo-Saxon CBD “suits” can be seen mixing with Asian-Australians from Sydney’s West, surfies from the south and Europeans from Sydney’s inner-west. And that is just for starters.
The Kings have long recognised the binding entity that they represent·in this respect and have done a tremendous job over the years (to varying degrees with the various ownership groups that have been in place) in celebrating the diversity of the Australian ethnic makeup. One such example of this occurred on Friday night when the Kings hosted the Adelaide 36ers at the Kingdome.
Prior to the NBL matchup, the Kingdome played stage to a spectacle of the Filipino basketball community. Whilst being a smart marketing move by surely increasing attendance at the game, bringing in additional Filipino supporters, the occasion served as an opportunity for the wider people of Sydney to find a common bond they may share with Filipino-Australians.
The Australian Government, through the Department of Immigration and Citizenship recognised this contribution to cross-cultural pollenation and conducted some interviews before the game, with this video the result:
The night was presented with the collaboration of Hoopdreamz, an outfit setup by Marco Selorio, a Sydney-based Filipino basketball aficionado.