2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup: Sports And Social Aggregation

Because watching the World Cup is good, but watching it in company is way better

basketball

Because watching the World Cup is good, but watching it in company is way better

The 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup have finally come to an end, as Spain will face off with Argentina in the grand final this early afternoon in Beijing. As some of our hoop-fanatic readers might already know, Italy did qualify for the much awaited tournament, after a 13-year long absence, but did not make the cut for the quarterfinal, losing 60 to 67 against Spain last Friday.

But sport is not just all about winning. It’s also about participating, coming together and sharing joys and sorrows with mates and strangers. And this is truly what matters in the end, both for the players and for all those who watch a competition.    

We have discussed all of this with Raffaele Ferraro, founder of LaGiornataTipo (“The Typical Day”), an Italian blog about basketball followed by a large and passionate social community.

‘Mondiali Dove’: Where To Watch Italy’s Games

Through the years, LaGiornataTipo has launched several initiatives around big basketball-related events purely to involve its readership in the Italian National team’s sporting race for the cup.

One example of these is the creation of Google maps flagging all the locations, including private home addresses and business ones, that show on their screens the games of our Nazionale: the ‘PreOlimpico Dove’ (“Pre-Olimpics Where”) in view of the kickoff of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and the ‘Europei Dove’ for the 2017 European Basketball Championship.

So in occasion of this year’s FIBA Basketball World Cup, Raffaele set up the ‘Mondiali Dove’ (“World Cup Where”) map.

Map
Preview of the ‘Mondiali Dove’ map by LaGiornataTipo

“Nowadays all tournaments are broadcast by pay-tv and streaming platforms. On one hand this has allowed a greater quality of the service, but, on the other, it is something that has been limited only to all those sports enthusiasts who are loyal enough to their teams and their achievements to invest in tv subscriptions. In fact, the big public, which represents the biggest chunk of viewers and is less committed to the cause, is put off by such ‘pay-to-watch’ barrier,” explained Raffaele.

“That’s why we have thought of a map, hosted on Google Maps, in which people who have access to the games can pin down the address of their homes, offices, bars and pubs, and signal to others that their doors are open for everyone who wants to join.”

Those who register themselves on the map can do so free of charge, and people who are interested in the championship can head to the nearest location and view the matches without having to pay a ticket or a fee. It’s a hands-down win-win for everyone.

So imagine this situation with our hypothetical friend Mario, who lives in Turin: he wants to follow Italy’s first game against the Philippines, but cannot watch it as he has no subscription to satellite television platform Sky, which airs the match. This is where ‘Mondiali Dove’ comes in. Mario swiftly checks the map and discovers that there are 12 venues in his city that televise the competition. Problem solved. Mario is happy because he can support Danilo Gallinari and his teammates in good company, and the owner of the bar our friend headed to is glad about the cheering crowd ordering nibbles and drinks.

The Map’s Reception

By just having a quick glance at the ‘Mondiali Dove’ map, one can immediately tell that the initiative has been a major success. Italy is clearly studded with red pins and turquoise-colored basketball icons, but the biggest surprise comes when you zoom out: markers placed by expats and fans of the Italian squad can be found not just in Spain, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Serbia and Greece, but even as far away as in China and Australia.

Map
Preview of the ‘Mondiali Dove’ map by LaGiornataTipo

The public’s engagement to LaGiornataTipo’s venture is undeniable. “Many people have entered their information on the map, and many other managed to watch Italy’s games,” said Raffaele. “But the best overall answer to what we have organized, however, is the confirmation that sport means especially social aggregation.”

A testimony of that is a message sent to Raffaele by a follower named Mattia and published on the blog’s Facebook page during the 2017 EuroBasket championship. Thanks to the ‘Europei Dove’ map, Mattia, an Italian expat based in Vienna with no clue about where and with whom to watch the tournament, has found a match buddy and new friend.

‘A’ For Aggregation

Raffaele stressed that social aggregation is the most important aspect of any sport, and, when it comes to team sports, our Nazionale fosters this idea. The same goes for LaGiornataTipo, as it is “first and foremost an aggregator of basketball fans, who discuss together and confront each other for they share the same passion for that very sport.”

Despite this noble intent though, the blog’s founder confessed that ever so frequently people in the sports’ highest echelons tend to forget about this key factor. “I believe this is the first reason why there’s a loss of appeal towards certain sports,” he added. So in order to avoid this sort of moral decay, sports federations must concentrate their efforts in promoting athletic activities, particularly considering the crucial role they play in our society and among the youth – after all, how many of us have learnt the true meaning of discipline, commitment, sacrifice and team spirit by taking the pitch or the pool?

“If these bodies disregard the social function that sports have taken on, the latter will cease bringing people together, and the former will keep on doing business for as long as the money will fuel their economic interests,” warns Raffaele. It goes without saying that finances are not what federations should be focusing on for the sake of the players and their supporters.

As the blogger pointed out, sports are capable of valuing and enhancing the potential, and not just the physical one, of the people practicing them, and reiterated they are per se “a formidable device of social cohesion and a natural tool of aggregation.”

So it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about basketball, football, hockey or cricket – sports unite people who come from different counties and belong to various ethnical and social backgrounds; and despite the diversities, all these individuals merge and communicate with one another as they gather under the same flag, that is, the sharing of a common passion and a genuine interest. “And that should be the starting point for everyone who is involved in sports,” concluded the basketball expert. 

Coffee And Matches At Patisserie Terrazza Sul Mare

Terrazza Sul Mare is a well known bar and patisserie in Porto San Giorgio, a charming beach town in the central region of Le Marche, on Italy’s East coast. The place is also one of the many business that have signed themselves on the ‘Mondiali Dove’ map, and the first one to do it on regional scale.

Roberto Mazzaferro is the talented, always-smiling barman standing behind the counter and the brother of the owner of the Terrazza. As a former basketball player and field officer, he told us that he has been reading LaGiornataTipo for years because he finds it to be the most interesting and followed online platform about basketball in Italy, for it covers both national and international hoop competitions. However, he admitted that, at first, he was unaware of the existence of the 2019 World Cup map, and that a friend of his brought it to his attention.

“He asked me: ‘Why don’t you take part in it? No one in Le Marche has adhered to it yet, you should totally do it.’ So I did and entered the information of my family’s business on the map straightaway. Then again, it wouldn’t have cost us anything, since we already pay for a Sky subscription, and maybe more customers would have come in given the importance of the whole event. So why not?” said Roberto.

Roberto Mazzaferro
Roberto Mazzaferro behind the counter of the Patisserie Terrazza sul Mare

That was a clever move, as after pinning the Terrazza on the map, dozens of people showed up to follow the games: Roberto’s friend brought along his mates, and plenty of passerby crossed the patisserie’s glass doors and took a seat.

Such a response from the local community did not come as a surprise given the decade-long basketball tradition that the town of Porto San Giorgio has. As a matter of fact, the Sangiorgese Basket team was founded all the way back in 1922 and reached the A2 league in the season between 1984-85 under the guidance of Coach Cesare Pancotto. To this day, residents are very proud of their hometown’s squad golden era, and that feeling certainly makes them still feel quite attached to this sport, despite it is not the most popular one in the country.

As for the idea of creating maps with the mere purpose of favoring socialization, Roberto praised LaGiornataTipo: “Initiatives like these are very nice and cost-free. These guys have made a tool just to allow basketball lovers to watch the tournament. There are no profits or revenue on their side, and they’ve done it exclusively out of passion for the sport. That’s absolutely honorable.”

The barista convened with Raffaele Ferraro, saying that sports indeed do stimulate conviviality: “I’ve seen people who didn’t know each other sitting around the same table, getting to know each other and conversing. That’s the beauty of sports: they are a common ground many. Unfortunately though no love stories were born while Italy played, but just because no women came to watch the games. Hopefully the thrill of the final will do the trick.”

The final is due to start at 2pm local time. Ladies and gents, join Roberto, have the best cappuccino of your life and tune in for Argentina against Spain.

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