Global vs. Local – Laboral Kutxa Vitoria made their mark in history by being the first team in 10 years to play a game in the Spanish ACB without fielding a Spanish-born player. They were players from Argentina, Italy, USA, Hungary, France, Germany, England, Senegal, and the Czech Republic. The team’s coach, Sergio Scariolo is from Italy. The club has two players on its roster who are from Spain, but Fernando San Emeterio was unavailable to play due to injury.
While the event was interesting to note, this could be a trend in leagues across Europe sooner rather than later. Domestic leagues are loosening their policies regarding the number of imports allowed on team rosters. More and more sports are blurring geographical lines as boundaries that once boxed teams in, and basketball is no exception. In Europe traditionally, fans follow sports for its competitive aspect making it more of a tribal war rather than family entertainment. But that is changing. The nationalities of players who play on the teams they support are less and less critical for them to identify with their beloved team. This is all a result of the basketball globalization.
Whether a particular culture regards sporting events as a “competitive war” or an exciting spectacle meant to entertain, big businesses wanting exposure for their brands are changing the landscape. As the world of business gets increasingly globalized, so too does their reach into the realm of professional sports. So don’t be surprised if one day the local team you support, that’s playing in a domestic league, has a team full of players of foreign nationalities. It’s a game and teams want to win. If that means bringing more talent from abroad, then it is a next and acceptable step in the continuing evolution of sports worldwide.