The annual ELPA Player Representatives Meeting was held in Barcelona on Tuesday to bring together Euroleague Basketball executives and protagonists from all 18 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague clubs around the many initiatives underway to enhance the dynamism and the community profile of the continent's top competition during the upcoming 2022-23 season.
New Euroleague Basketball President Dejan Bodiroga and CEO Marshall Glickman opened Tuesday's meetings with a discussion about ways to work together on improving the league's standing, boosting basketball's place in the entertainment marketplace, and making an even bigger positive impact on communities – all with the active participation and influence of the players.
"After 22 years in which we have seen this league grow, now it is time to bring it to the next level," Bodiroga told the players. "This is a new beginning, and you are a critical piece in the future evolution of the league. Players are the true protagonists of the game and we will work further at elevating your profile, on and off the court. I want to wish you and all of your teammates a healthy and successful season."
"The players' voice should be the most important voice," Glickman said. "This is a players' league. That's what people are paying for, to come see players. And it's not only to see them play: They want to see and feel some connection to the players, and that is really important."
The players received a breakdown of the competition's fan engagement through television, social media and digital avenues, showing where the largest and most active fan bases are. This was followed by a discussion on brand, commercial and social media strategies, including an exchange of ideas on ways to improve the league-player communication or the audiovisual content, amongst others, after which they reviewed a report that looked at medical services across the league and its concussion protocol.
"This meeting is definitely great. We put together a lot of ideas, different minds, to take the next step and make basketball in Europe more popular," Ismet Akpinar of Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul said. "This is something that I really like, that players have an influence on our own future. There are already some ideas that are being planned that I had not even thought about. So many creative things to take the next step in the digital world or, like I said, the influence of basketball in Europe and worldwide. This meeting is a step in the right direction and I really like the ideas here."
During a session entitled "Planet: How I can be a relevant voice", the players learned about Euroleague Basketball's sustainability plan and were educated about the opportunity for players to become sustainability advocates. They discussed how important it is for players to join as ambassadors for the climate efforts that Euroleague Basketball and its partners are developing. Each attendee was invited to measure their carbon footprint, choose a sustainable development goal and to commit to making a positive impact in that area.
"Every basketball player in Europe wants to play in the EuroLeague, so we have to understand the situation that we are in," said Valencia Basket guard Martin Herrmannsson. "We are blessed and happy to be in this situation and we need to take advantage of that opportunity. I think all the players are willing to do whatever to help society. Some guys like it better to be in the spotlight and some guys don't like it, but we have to work together. The players sitting in this meeting have the same goal: expand EuroLeague and make it better as a brand."