That Cadel Evan’s victory in the Tour de France was a triumph of the human spirit is indisputable. A magnificent achievement that has captured the imagination of cycling aficionados and casual observers alike both in Australia and in Europe. But will wearing the yellow jersey turn into lucrative marketing deals for Evans? Certainly the 600k he picked up for the Tour win will come in handy but this will pale into insignificance if he can translate success on the road to success off it. Although a cussed customer at times with the media, the manner of his victory will help propel him into deals worth many millions of dollars. Potential sponsors will want to link with his grit, determination and will to win as well as his success. He also has longevity on his side (having competed over a number of years) as well as the clean cut image that many organisations crave. Throw in proficiency in a number of languages and an understated personality and you have a complete package that will see his management presented with many opportunities. Although his profile in Australia will go through the roof with a consequent increase in endorsements here, it is in Europe where cycling is more mainstream that his real revenue streams will be. And of course there is the opportunity for him to link with charities and not for profits (perhaps extolling the virtues of a healthy lifestyle in general and cycling in particular for the Australian Sports Commission) as many athletes are wont to do. The result will see Cadel Evans as one of Australia’s most recognised and well remunerated athletes for the next five years, more if he can repeat his success in 2012.
Turning Yellow into Green…
It’s all About the Fans…
With rugby league’s Independent Commission set to become a reality very soon (no honestly), the spin has commenced with regard to upcoming television rights. With a deal due to be negotiated as soon as the 8 good people true start sitting as the ultimate big picture, decision makers of the game in Australia the portents are good. Rugby league is a superlative product that many tv executives would love to have in their quiver of lucrative sporting properties and sport per se has always rattled the cages of advertisers eager to link their products with wholesome family entertainment. In the background too is the AFL’s recently heralded $1.2 billion plus deal that warped the landscape and caused rugby league’s administrators to think big, really big. To add value to rugby league many ideas have been mooted from separating the rights for NRL, State of Origin and Test matches to national expansion. Most worrying however is the very real possibility that the game on free will in the not so distant future contain more adverts! Say it ain’t so Joe? Various statto’s have long seen natural breaks in play as opportunities to insert the latest celebrity head spouting skin care after time off has been whistled. Close your eyes and think about the time it takes to set a scrum or take a line drop out and imagine Katy Perry instead… you get the picture? Whilst this may increase actual playing time (although I’m not sure what the players association will make of it) it is a retrograde step. One of the, no THE true stakeholders of the game are fans – they are the lifeblood of the code. Fans sustained rugby league through some dark years before Tina Turner sang ‘Simply the Best’ and fans did similar when News Limited coldly cleaved the game in two. Fans kept Souths in the competition and continue to buy tickets, buy newspapers and stump up hard earned, eye watering amounts of cash for little Johnny’s guernsey when it’s tough enough feeding the family. Sorry but all fans yearn for the day that any game, all games are uninterrupted by the scourge of endless, mindless, useless commercials, much less more of the same. Are you listening?
Like some 2.5 million or so Australians (the rest were watching Masterchef apparently) I tuned into State of Origin on Wednesday evening. Unfortunately for those tinged with blue among us it was the Maroon side, not George or Gary that dished out the masterclass! And on Saturday night on the very same swathe of green it was the Reds who plated up a smorgasbord of delicious rugby to send their Cantabrian counterparts to bed without dessert. On the back of a stirring Brisbane Roar A League triumph and ANZ domination by the Firebirds we may well have witnessed the tilting of the Eastern Seaboard sporting axis. Should the Matilda’s have won last night or the Netball Diamonds see off New Zealand, Anna Bligh will doubtless claim it was due to the preponderance of banana benders in the squads or at the very least the result of a Gold Coast holiday during their formative years! So what are the teams north of the Tweed doing right? Yes there has been indescribable, heart rending tragedy throughout the State this year but such emotion can only carry you so far as the Crusaders, currently without a home ground but proudly, inescapably from Christchurch found. Queensland development programs in sport can’t be that different from those in NSW? Is there an X factor? We smirk a little at the unforgettable ‘Queenslander’ call of a charged up Billy Moore all those years ago but perhaps he encapsulated it in a single word? During Origin I was struck by comments that came from the effervescent crowd where I was watching. When a NSW player entered the field he was from Wests or Penrith but strangely this was not the case if the player concerned was swathed in maroon. He was a Queenslander pure and simple. Coming from the Sunshine State will never make up for poor preparation or lack of athletic ability but it does have some sort of galvanising effect which, when combined with a siege mentality and invective media makes a difference. Or at least it does for now. That sport is cyclical in all but the rarest of cases is indisputable but sooner or later the axis will tilt back. Won’t it?
Follow Me… Follow You
Apart from during an Olympic campaign and probably the awesome trans Tasman netball deciders I’m not sure I’ve ever witnessed more anticipation in women’s sport than for the Matilda’s tilt at the world cup that kicked off last night in Germany. They are an incredibly successful, annoyingly young outfit with an average age of just 22 years and seven players under 20. They represent Australia’s most credible chance of success on the global stage in the round ball game for at least the foreseeable future. But it’s not just on the field that they are setting new standards, off the field they have embraced social media and have placed themselves at the vanguard of the nexus between sport and this global phenomenon. Many sports administrators, invariably male and over thirty-five have found it difficult to comprehend why some of their younger charges are so entranced with the ‘big two’ of Facebook and Twitter. I was of a similar disposition until I mceed a sport and digital media conference in Sydney last year. Mid way through a range of presentations that were as gobsmacking as they were at times incomprehensible that that big light bulb went off above my head. I finally ‘got it’ but more than that I got the fact that unless we embraced such things, communication would become ever harder. Trying to get young adults to read emails, watch tv at scheduled times on a screen in the corner of the room or listen to the wireless is useless as the options now open to them defies belief. All have a place but have been largely superseded in a heady technological age that is destined to continue. I jumped straight to Twitter and almost immediately I was swept up, sucked in and seduced. I’m not one for people telling me where they are drinking coffee as some are wont to do, but Twitter is a great disseminator of information – information from all over the world that in most probability I wouldn’t have seen or heard about. And it continued as I started following few athletes to gain greater insight and yes, even more information. It’s one reason why I (@drsportbiz since you ask) will be following the Matilda’s (#gomatildas) and some of the brilliant talent such as captain Melissa Barbieri (@bubs_11) or their ageing coach Tom Sermanni (@tomsermanni) not just on my old fashioned tv but also on my phone, my tablet and my computer.