Time to show you care, T.O.

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:33 PM ET

It is about time basketball fans in this country start putting their money where their mouths are.

This corner constantly fields complaints from so-called hoops supporters who lament the dominance of hockey in the Canadian sports media and the underplaying of basketball.

While it is true basketball doesn’t get the attention it deserves, Canadians could help heavy hoops coverage become a necessity by doing a better job of showing that they care.

“It’s like you know they exist, but it’s almost like an underground crowd, a guerilla crowd,” said Canada Basketball CEO Wayne Parrish on Wednesday night.

“This is all about kind of putting a stake in the ground with respect to creating a brand around the national team,” he added.

Canada’s senior men’s team is at the Air Canada Centre for two exhibitions against France on Thursday and Friday night in advance of the FIBA world championship which tips later this month in Turkey.

With lower bowl tickets available for dirt cheap, not counting the absurd Ticketmaster fees, there is no excuse not to attend if you truly believe you are a Canadian basketball fan.

Raptors broadcaster Eric Smith had a good rant on the subject Wednesday and I agree with him completely. Go out and buy a ticket. Don’t let it be a disaster like the last time Canada played at the ACC when few fans made it out.

The other day in Vancouver, when 4,845 took in Canada’s blowout win over China the more vocal of those on hand backed China.

Though Canada has lacked a star player since Steve Nash last suited up and though Parrish doesn’t have a huge problem with the opposition getting support since filling the seats is just as important as having a home-court advantage, Canadian fans should do better.

Canada Basketball does not have the money or resources to heavily market its events, but that shouldn’t be a huge factor if there really are as many basketball fans in this country as it seems.

This is a hard-working squad that battles. Toronto fans seem to love the type of player so it is not exactly a chore to get on board ­ even without the poster boy for that breed, Matt Bonner.

That said, Parrish said getting a hefty house was a lot easier when Steve Nash and Yao Ming were on the bill, as they were when Canada and China last squared off in Vancouver in front of a packed house eight years ago.

“I guess (low turnouts are) disappointing if you stack it up against 18,000 people going nuts for the Raptors, but we really are building something here,” Parrish said. “We are hopeful that fans that are there will have a good experience, tell their friends and try to get them out next summer.”

Canada is moving towards becoming an international contender and though people will undoubtedly jump on the bandwagon in about five years when 15 Canadians are likely in the NBA, it would be nice to see more people taking an interest now.

You can’t have it both ways. If you want a bigger basketball presence, fill the stands, watch the broadcasts. Because if you don’t, you forfeit the right to complain about it.

ryan.wolstat@sunmedia.ca


Photos