The Popularity of Basketball in France

action backboard ball basketballBasketball is a popular sport played almost all over the world. Although it was invented in the United States, many countries have also appreciated the sport and has grown in popularit. It is a solid proof how well basketball has spread from the place where it was invented.

The sports most played in France according to popularity are football (soccer), tennis, rugby union, rugby league, and basketball is in the fifth place. The game of basketball was invented on December 1, 1891, in Springfield, Massachusetts by a man named James Naismith. It was first played in France in 1893.

The first European game was held in Paris on December 1893. It was an era when American culture enticed French youth to play basketball. French teams were at the forefront of European competition in the 1930s and post-World War II period.

France’s period of glory in the history of basketball began in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The French basketball team led by Robert Busnel won an Olympic silver medal at the 1948 Olympics which took place in London. It was the first medal in France’s basketball history. The game ended with France losing to the United States who won the gold medal at that time.

France won two consecutive medals under coach Andre Vacheresse. They won bronze at the Eurobasket in 1951 and 1953. However, in the 1960s and 1970s, French basketball team was in a low spot. Their teams had disappeared almost completely from the major world competitions.

Until the 1970s in France, even though there is a French national basketball team, there are were no basketball games shown regularly on TV. There were often basketball gyms available but many kids didn’t own a basketball to play with. In the 1980s NBA games started to be shown on TV and this started a growth in popularity of the game.

This next generation of players included French basketball icons such as Richard Dacoury and Jacques Monclar. With a great line-up of players during this decade, the French national team had the opportunity to return to the Olympics in 1984 and in the FIBA World Championship in 1986.

Young French players were not attracted to the NBA games just because of the style of the game but it was also because basketball started to become a part of French pop culture. The NBA game and culture created new a new generations of fans. It imparted the fashion, music, and sneaker culture that surrounded the sport in the 1980s and 1990s.

Michael Jordan was also one of the major reasons for this change in France. He was really the most effective athlete of his generation ad marketed world wide as a great instrument in popularizing the NBA around the globe including France.

France competed in the Eurobasket in 2003 with a talented team that included NBA players Tony Parker, Jerome Moiso and Tariq Abdul-Wahad. The team also included future NBA-player Boris Diaw and Euroleague players Laurent Foirest, Cyril Julian and Florent Pietrus.

The French national basketball team has had strong results in competing internationally over the years. Many French nationals have entered to play in the NBA. There are 22 French citizens that have played in the NBA in the United States and in Canada as of the 2015-2016 season.

Like other young men, French NBA players left home to chase their dreams in the U.S. at the top of the sport. Many have left their mark on the sport such as five time NBA champion Tony Parker as well as many others. Soccer may still on the top spot when it comes to the county’s most played sport but basketball is continuing to gain popularity.