Ben Simmons is an NBA All-star with a US$170 million contract.
He sent a message to the Sports and Documentary worlds by signing on as an executive producer of THE AUSTRALIAN DREAM.
- Passion Pictures‘ feature documentary captures the struggle of Aboriginal professional footballer Adam Goodes.
- Goodes was driven from the local game by unrelenting racial abuse, on and off the field.
Footy Fan + LeBron
- Ben Simmons grew up in Melbourne, where he became a diehard fan of ‘Footy,’ Australia’s unique local code.
- He is now a star with the Philadelphia ‘Sixers,
- Simmons is reported to have been introduced to Passion Pictures’ John Battsek by the multimedia company Uninterrupted, launched by the politically outspoken NBA superstar LeBron James.
- LeBron is an executive producer of the 2019 HBO documentary What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali
Footy & Race
- Two documentaries about Adam Goodes (above) premiered this year: one each at the Sydney and Melbourne Film Festivals.
- They are driving a national conversation about the rights of indigenous Australians.
Source: Global Sports Salaries Survey 2018 Sporting Intelligence
Context: NBA’s Unique Economic & Cultural Structure
NBA players are unique among world professional players.
- The NBA enjoys enormous global appeal that drives multiple revenue streams.
- Team rosters are small, and superstars have used their leverage to obtain greater power versus team owners than players have achieved in all other team sports.
- The NBA culture is strongly African-American, and players have are becoming increasingly outspoken on national issues — both as individuals and as teams.
- Public displays by NBA players of their contempt for president Trump have gone unpunished.
- Even mild protests in the NFL have seen American Football stars banished from the game.
What You Need To Know Now!
- Racism and various forms of discrimination are becoming major issues in professional sports — worldwide.
- Players are more assertive in both reporting offensive behavior and in addressing broad political and cultural issues.
- The documentary format is in the zeitgeist as a popular and powerful form of expression.
- As well as financial contributions, the super-athlete’s involvement is a great promotional benefit for producers.
- My prediction is that more and more cashed-up professional players – men and women – will become engaged in documentary projects as funders and as promoters.
Who has the money?
- The chart above from Sporting Intelligence lists Player Average Salaries for the Top 9 team sports worldwide.
- Cricketers fit in the list too, but their compensation is hard to compare because stars play for multiple leagues like the Indian Premier League and their national teams.
- The context: NBA stars have seized their conversation about Race / Equity / Justice // The New York Times
- Raheem Stirling and How English Premier League footballers got woke // The Guardian
- Two documentaries about Adam Goodes are driving Australia’s national conversation about race // The Age
- The multimedia company Uninterrupted, launched by NBA superstar LeBron James // The Hollywood Reporter
- The Australian Dream reviewed at Telluride // The Hollywood Reporter