August 17, 2009
Awesome Live Sport
I went to the Blacksticks vs Malaysia game on Fri at Park Island, Napier, courtesy of Shea McAleese (thanks mate and well played too) and I have to say I was really impressed. The skill of all the players was super sharp and the pace of the game surprised me (and the sausage sizzle was yum!) The stand was nearly full when I got there and we eventually found a seat down with a bunch of school kids who were laughing, shouting and generally having a great ole time. I was briefly just a little irritated with these cheeky kids when they kept jumping on the seats, sending vibrations up my spine and making a loud clunking sound in my ear… but when I thought about it, I quickly realized that this was the real essence of live sport. That these kids are the fans who deserve to get the most out of these events. Some had “NZ” painted on one cheek and “#25” (Sheas number) on the other and it was clear they knew all about the players especially their local hero. I end up really enjoying the excellent game (2-2 draw), these kids enthusiasm and the atmosphere during and after the match with a very reasonably priced beer and a chat in the clubrooms. As I walked back to my car I concluded that this sport (which I have never had much time for before I met Shea) is onto a winner here with their “product” and that the Blacksticks “brand” is a good one. The fans were looked after, the game itself was easy to follow, the players skill level was very high and they made themselves available to the fans after the game. Well done HB and NZ Hockey! A bit later I was thinking about live sport in general and the comparison to televised sport and my attitude to that lately. I started thinking about my lack of interest in my beloved NRL this year and also my dissatisfaction with all things rugby recently (thank God for this years Air NZ Cup!).
Why Im struggling to watch live sport on TV
I was a Warriors season ticket holder for 5 or so years. I tried to never miss a game. I took my kids, my mates, or would just go on my own…. I just loved the atmosphere of a Warriors game at Mt Smart (Larry in the row behind me made sure of that…) and loved seeing and hearing the sounds of the actual sport itself…the body contact, the look in the second rowers eyes as he would pick out Stacey and run at him…the flying sweat when Francis Meli would put one of those shoulder charges in..(ask Brent Tate?). I really felt like I was getting value for the cost to me in time, money and stress that I would invest and endure to follow my team.
I am also a huge All Blacks fan. I admire the history, the culture and feel pride in their record but I’m not one of those that feel that the ABs should have your loyalty as a NZer as of right like what the NZ Rugby Union seems to try to impress on us.(that “stadium of 4 million” thing is a little arrogant I reckon). Anyway, I have noticed lately that the NRL, the Super 14 and rugby international Test Matches don’t grab my attention and following like they used to. To be honest, I’m getting quite sick of the behavior of NRL players and their attitudes toward women, alcohol and sponsors. These boofheads are putting me off the exciting and entertaining game that is NRL rugby league. I watch them on TV and cant help thinking to myself that these guys just don’t deserve the accolades that some heap on them. The Anthony Watmough incident where he slapped a stalwart club sponsor was unbelievable and what about Nate Myles, who was found drunk, naked and lying in public in his own crap….sheeesh! Interesting to note that of the 4 featured NRL players (Greg Inglis, Brent and Glenn Stewart and big Manu Vatuvei) on the official NRL promo ad campaign that “The Beast” is the only player who has not somehow fallen foul of either the NRL or the cops. Great effort Manu!
My issue with rugby is a different one. The players still misbehave a little but I struggle to accept the “entertainment” that they offer me through Sky Tv. The Super 14 and Tri Nations competitions are quite frankly….boring. The concept is reasonably good for both but for one reason or another we are served up a half baked competition full of compromises, common sense defying cash squeezing conditions and sometimes….just poor quality rugby. There seems so many better ideas for both comps and that is what really frustrates me. I like the Tri Nations every 2nd year idea and an extended tour in between years. The Super 14 would be better to look at home and away rounds and the final played alternatively between the 3 countries. Or move away from our friends in Africa and replicate an NRL type comp. Why not? It clearly works! I dont feel any allegiance to any Super 14 team and the bullying or self serving tactics of the major unions just piss me off! The NZ Rugby Union have shown very poor leadership the last few years and I constantly find myself disagreeing with nearly every decision they make. I dont like their “Product” and Im slowly being turned off the All Black “Brand”.(this may be a little to do with coaching and selection issues also…but that is a different subject) I dont think Im alone either. However………I am just loving the Air NZ Cup and think they actually have got this one right! I also agree with the next years plans too. As a Magpies fan, its great to have a provincial team that I feel something for the way I do for the Warriors. Oh…I’m making the effort to watch it on TV too.
I realize that both the NRL and the NZ Rugby Union have a little more on their plate than the Hockey guys do. Larger crowds, more financial commitment, pressure to entertain etc…. obviously make it more difficult to keep everyone happy so I’m certainly not saying that there is a direct comparison. There is a comparison though in that I enjoyed watching a live sport event that Ive never really had an interest in, more than watching on TV the sports Ive played and followed for years. Someone’s doing something right and someone is doing something wrong. So thats what I reckon….I would be interested if anyone else has the same thoughts as me on this subject….
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