Turkish Basketball’s Rise to Global Popularity
According to most sources, basketball was first played in Turkey at an American college in Istanbul in 1904, since then many leagues have been formed with the premiere of these being the Turkish Basketball Championship. Founded just over 50 years ago , Turkey’s Basketball league has in recent years become increasingly popular not just in Turkey, but all over the world. In recent years many international stars of the game have signed with Turkish teams and with a spike in interest, the popularity has become worldwide.
Turkish Basketball Championship becomes the Turkish Basketball Super League.
In the 1966-67 season of the Turkish Basketball Championship, the league was declared defunct and was transformed in the Turkish Basketball Super League as a newer incarnation of a top tier basketball league throughout Turkey.
From the six teams which competed under the older Turkish Basketball Championship, the new Super League has expanded in its 50 years to include 16 top tier professional teams from all over Turkey who compete against each other twice during the season, jostling for their position on the tournament ladder. The top eight teams are then pitted against each other in playoffs to determine the season’s champion.
Turkish Basketball’s worldwide position
Over the years and especially in the last 15-20 years, many international players have left their home teams at the highest level of the sport, such as the NBL in the USA and have been bought by Turkish clubs to play in the league.
With an increase in the quality of Turkish basketball players and an influx of international stars of the game (due also to unrest in Turkey), so too has interest from a global audience come to the Turkish Super League and its teams’ successes. In fact, this year the champions of the Euro League Basketball title were Fenerbahce who won the title to a home audience in Istanbul against Greek legends Olympiakos; according to the Euro League, the event’s broadcast reached a record 214 countries around the world.
An increase in interest in Turkish basketball has changed the sport’s status in Turkey from its humble infancy in the high schools of Istanbul as a part of physical education classes to a major sport in the country. Worldwide interest has increased and more and more international stars are coming to Turkey to play basketball. As more and more spectators are watching, betting, and cheering on their teams it seems like Turkish Basketball will only become increasingly popular, not just in Turkey but also around the world.