Posts in April

Gambling on the Future of Sport
0

Gambling on the Future of Sport

Like many of you I love a bet. The horses on a Saturday afternoon, the dishlickers when there’s nothing else to do, snow in London on Christmas Day. That sort of thing.  And yes occasionally I’ll wager my hard earned on the football codes through pick the winner, margins and head to heads. Very occasionally I’ll put a dollar or two on the first try scorer or the first scoring play.  Every time I am separated with my cash it is more in the hope of a collect rather than in the knowledge that it will win. All too often I am wrong. The reason?  Sport is founded on uncertainty of outcome; the playing field is level before the protagonists cross the white line.  Whilst spectacular performance may undo the predictions of many with a favourite downed and an underdog victorious, the bedrock belief is always that the contest is fair and unblemished.  But nowadays this very bedrock on which sport is built is called into question on a daily basis. In Japan sumo, one of the oldest of all sports is shrouded in controversy as the rikishi stand accused of rigging their one on one bouts. Pakistani cricketers have overstepped the mark and been banned for spot fixing, Referees have been jailed for betting on games in which they were officiating around the globe and even the staid sport of bowls was rocked when a Kiwi side threw a match against Thai opponents.  In Australia we tend to regard this as a ‘foreign’ blight conveniently forgetting the Fine Cotton affair and the pitch predictions of a couple of cricketing heroes. More recently running dead to ensure precious draft picks and failed betting plunges on exotic rugby league bets. Whether it be Sydney or Santiago in every case the lowest common denominator is gambling feeding greed. No more no less.  Unless this scourge of game fixing is curtailed the loser will be sport. Our sport. With the seed of doubt sown in our fertile minds we will start to question every dropped pass, every crook decision, every unexpected victory, every missed shot at goal and every penalty. With the integrity of sport undermined, before long the foundations will crumble and sport as we know it will be but a distant memory.

This post first appeared as Monday’s Expert in the Northern Star on Monday 21st March

0

Knight in Shining Armour

Come this morning, the Newcastle Knights will commence their first full week under a new regime.  Just like Manchester United and Liverpool in the English Premier League, the New York Yankees and Red Sox of Boston in US Major League Baseball as well as the Rajasthan Royals and Deccan Chargers of the Indian Premier League, the Knights are now a privately owned club.  The coup was delivered in overwhelming fashion by an army of Newcastle Knights’ fans who last week voted to sell their club to Nathan Tinkler or more correctly the Tinkler Sports Group (TSG).  Such a structure is not particularly innovative in Australia but, as the examples illustrate much more the norm overseas. Results have been mixed however even among the European sporting elite let alone here in Australia.  Basketball and A League football have religiously pursued a private ownership model and the NQ Fury are no more as their owner’s largesse disappeared with the Brisbane Bullets similarly extinct following Eddy Groves’ much publicized cash flow problems.  Why even Tinkler himself took over from cash strapped Con Constantine as owner of the Jets. Tinkler seems to be different. Not only does he seem to have deeper pockets than many (his wealth is propelled by the rewards of the mining boom) but he is far from the helicoptered-in, ego driven sugar daddy that others seem to be.  He is Newcastle through and through mirroring the passionate white, blue and red bedecked mums and dads that bellowed “Newcastle! when he secured the club.  Although frequently shrouded in the pr bluff and bluster of modern sport business it is his parochialism that has shone through.  Nevertheless, he is an astute businessman with many interests including the highly competitive Patinack Farms, his thoroughbred racing arm. I guess the acid test will come with his reaction to winning and losing seasons? Will a successful team on the field see TSG leverage their investment and raise membership and merchandise prices or alter the home ground and disenfranchising real fans?  Will a losing side see recrimination and back stabbing?  Time will tell but for now Tinkler can bask in the adulation as a very real home town hero with unbounded potential.

This post first appeared as Mondays Expert in the Northern Star, December 6th

 

0

Tricky Ricky

This week has seen some curious behaviour from two of our sporting leaders, one of whom occupies the highest office in the land (that of Test captain).  Both happen to be named Ricky.  Firstly to Ricky Stuart who was recently handed the plum role of coaching the NSW Blues full time after a fairly inauspicious stint at the Cronulla Sharks.  Doubtless he will perform miracles as he exudes the requisite experience and would bleed blue if cut.  So why has he recently come out saying he won’t countenance former Origin players criticizing this year’s set up? He has even threatened the footballers nightmare of excommunication for anyone brazen enough to defy his edict! Surely these are the people best placed to just that provided of course it is both constructive and for the right reason)?  It smacks of pressure and will do little to restore pride in the Blues as they seek to arrest a five series-losing streak.  I’m left wondering how Stuart himself would have reacted if the boot was on the other foot and it was he who had been muzzled?  The other Ricky (or is that Rick?) has pressures of an altogether different ilk.  After apparently hurling a bat in frustration early in the interminable ICC World Cup, his schoolboy reaction to a fairly innocuous collision with junior teammate Steve Smith spoke volumes about this dead set legend of a cricketer.  It seems that hardly a game, be it a Test or a one dayer passes without Ponting embroiled in some sort of controversy.  Some see this as a sign of chest thumping passion and strong captaincy others are more circumspect saying he is disrespectful of the exalted position he occupies.  Yes he is fiercely protective of teammates and unflinchingly focused on winning but I guess the truth lies some place in between.  One thing is for sure – he runs the risk that in continuing his stellar career in this manner that he will be remembered not for his stirring deeds whilst wielding the willow but for his bad temper and petulance in its twilight. And that would be a real shame.

This post first appeared as Monday’s Expert in the Northern Star on March 28th

0

Boo, Hiss Boo!

Have our sporting icons become a little too precious? Should they be heading to Bunnings at the first available opportunity to buy some quick setting cement?  How else can the recent complaining about our sporting stars being booed be explained? Earlier this year Michael Clarke, our one-day captain was booed from the field following (another) dismal batting display. Critics rounded on the baying hoards claiming it was disrespectful of his haughty office, of his talent to give him such a rabble rousing send off.  And last week the much vaunted and all too frequently under achieving NSW Waratahs were similarly booed not once, not twice but three times in all during their desolate performance against the easy beat Cheetahs.  On both occasions apologists for the teams concerned have been quick to defend the athletes saying it simply isn’t fair to hiss and jeer.  Matt Burke even offered that because the crowd had never played under the pressure that Super 15 rugby exerts that they simply couldn’t know and therefore were under-qualified to boo! Ridiculous!! The people who pay the price of admission are entirely entitled to vent their spleen and hurl abuse when they wish, just as they can stand and pay homage. Indeed it is an essential part of sport. Our sporting stars can’t have their cake and eat it! They love the adulation, the standing ovations, the rousing cheers when it all comes together and things go well. They lap it up and positively revel in it and yes, profit from it. too  So when things go awry and the crowd mood darkens, the players must surely realise this is part and parcel of the game. The yin and the yang.  Far from whingeing  they should suck it up and see to it that it doesn’t happen again! Do our precious players want sanitised stadia, bereft of atmosphere where the crowd stay rooted to their seats and politely clap when the big screen tells them too?  I don’t think so.

This post first appeared as Monday’s Expert in the Northern Star on March 21st

Sport Business Resources