Last night at the Air Canada Centre, the Canadian senior men's team defeated the French national team 59-68 in preparation for the 2010 FIBA World Championships.
The FIBA World Championships, unlike the IIHF hockey championship, is not played in season, thus actually attracts pretty solid teams. The Americans, for example, are sending Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Lamar Odom, Rudy Gay and Derrick Rose. The Canadians have a few notables; while Steve Nash no longer plays internationally, Joel Anthony of the Miami Heat and two Gonzaga University standouts Robert Sacre and Kelly Olynyk are playing.
So how come, for a pre-tournament game, just 2,652 spectators showed up at the Air Canada Centre?
In the wake of the World Cup and the Olympics where we sat through all kinds of faux-sports purely in the interests of national pride, having fewer than 3,000 people to support the National team is just week.
Heck--go to the FIBA.com website, and take a look at the broadcast carriers for the tournament: Click, and scroll down and you'll see that Canada doesn't even have a TV broadcaster for the tournament.
Phone calls to Rogers and TSN were, of course, not returned, but I was able to get in touch with somebody at the CRTC who said that while he had no idea what the tournament even was, there's a good chance that international basketball doesn't appeal enough to Canadians to get one of our major sports carriers to cough up cash to show the events.
"If it's expensive, they'll probably pass on it and show us poker and darts instead," he told me.
Canada had four channels which offered pretty much round-the-clock Olympic coverage. Canada had two channels which shut off their regular programming for a month to show us the FIFA World Cup. The idea that one broadcaster won't bite the bullet to show a dedicated [very] few the FIBA World Championships shows our major sports carriers their business-savvy more than it does their commitment to complete sports programming.