With the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team returning from Australia, many are beginning to question whether or not international tournaments like this are necessary in collegiate sports.
On one hand, as the NCAA only allows each team to travel abroad once every four years, international tournaments can be a good time for new teams to gain experience against some of the best teams internationally.
However, many are wondering exactly why the Badgers decided to go to Australia instead of choosing a location like Spain or France. Here are our editors’ takes on whether or not tournaments like these are necessary for collegiate athletes.
Tournaments like these seem like a waste of time for college athletes. These are teams I don’t see any of our athletes competing against for the rest of their careers.
I would understand these games more if we were competing against teams of major concern to the Badgers. Scrimmaging against a Kentucky or Duke, who we need to gain experience against before March Madness comes around, would be valuable.
A trip we'll never forget #BadgersDownUnder 🇳🇿🇦🇺
— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) August 24, 2017
The fact that these also happen once every four years seems weird to me. Again, I would understand it if we were an Olympic team and this were an Olympic year, but we’re not, and it’s not.
It would be better if Wisconsin participated in a scrimmage against more collegiate teams, or if they perhaps hosted a tournament in September instead. I could see those being more beneficial in the long run.
The Wisconsin men’s basketball team traveled to Australia and New Zealand from Aug. 12-24 for a 12-day, five-game road trip as part of a strategy to instill new skills in a host of players lacking game experience.
Following the Badgers’ departure of four starting senior players a season ago, Wisconsin’s new starting five is in dire need of exposure to top talent, whether that’s abroad or here at home in the states. While many believe the debate here may be whether this trip was worth the trouble of traveling across the world for practice, it’s also important to recognize the recruiting implications of a trip as incredible as this one.
— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) August 28, 2017
For example, take the University of Michigan’s football team earlier this year in Spring 2017. Jim Harbaugh’s pack of Wolverines traveled across the Atlantic to Italy as part of a “bonding trip” for new and returning players.
From outsiders looking in, such as fans, this may seem like an excessive luxury to a silly degree, but to a player stuck between two schools who can’t figure out where to commit, the one offering an all-expense paid trip to a place such as Italy or Australia/New Zealand could very well tip the scale.
We tend to view our student athletes, especially our basketball and football players, as more or less professional athletes. That being said, we must remember they are still students first, looking to get the most they can out of their college experience. Unlike many students, players on the basketball team don’t usually get the opportunity to study abroad for any length of time.
For our UW players and players on other teams throughout the country, preseason trips abroad not only help athletes grow as a team but also cultivate their individual understanding of global culture. While the importance of this trip for the teams success this season is unclear, what is clear is that it provides our student athletes a valuable opportunity to travel and see places in the world that they may never otherwise visit.