SPORT & BALLS

INTERESTING OBSERVATION

1. The sport of choice for the urban poor is SOCCER. (I’m sorry- in due deference to my Pommie mate- FOOTBALL)soccer ball

2 The sport of choice for maintenance level employees is BASKETBALL.2012 NBA All-Star Game

3 The sport of choice for front-line workers is RUGBY.rugby ball

4 The sport of choice for supervisors is CRICKET.cricket ball5 The sport of choice for middle management is TENNIS.tennis ball

And….

6 The sport of choice for corporate executives and officers is GOLF.golf ball


THE OBVIOUS CONCLUSION:

The higher you go in the corporate structure, the smaller your balls become.

THE OTHER OBVIOUS CONCLUSION: 

There must be a ton of people in the Government playing marbles!marbles

Just saying.

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NZ Golf- You’re Pathetic

The annual Halberg Sports Awards were held the other night and in one of the categories there was an impressive and notable list of ’emerging’ young sports stars. It was impressive because each of the young people nominated has already created an image on the world stage in their chosen sports. Jacko Gill (athletics), Shaun Johnson (rugby league), Sam Meech (sailing), Byron Wells (skiing) were the shortlisted finalists.

The list was notable because it not only didn’t feature a female, but World Champion 14 year old golfer Lydia Ko wasn’t part of the list. I believe that had she been nominated not only would she have made the shortlist from which the winner was chosen, but would have been at very short odds to win.

Oh! Wait!! NOMINATED!!!!???? There’s the problem. Lydia wasn’t even nominated! It seems NZ Golf in its infinite wisdom decided not to put her name forward for consideration! If this is true it is astonishing. I can only assume that they must have felt that Lydia is past “emerging” given she has had such success and is “emerged” (in the criteria there is the term “elite” used with reference to competition- given Lydia has won the world amateur championship perhaps that qualifies as “elite”?.)

This is an amazing talent and New Zealand can look forward to having a new and exciting profile on the international golf stage.Good luck, Lydia, and I look forward to seeing more and more of your exploits on courses around the world.

Promote The Game

The IRB (International Rugby Board) will be rubbing their hands together contemplating the enormous income that’s they will receive from the 2011 Rugby World Cup tournament currently under way in New Zealand. (At the same time the NZRFU [New Zealand Rugby Football Union] will be gnashing their teeth over the lack of income they will receive from the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Who’s fault is that? Surely it can only be the NZRFU’s!)

The IRB will be celebrating with the rugby watching public of New Zealand and The World over the fun results, the performance of most of the ‘minnows’ and, in general the quality of footy on display. The NZRFU will also be patting themselves on the back with the way the tournament is running- satisfactory crowds ALL of whom are well-behaved and having fun.

The IRB may not be quite so chirpy about the hiccups that have occurred that have taken a bit of the gloss off what should be a glowing show- heavy-handed bullying of local businesses who have (apparently) innocently infringed the rules of sponsorship, players’ after-hour revelries that should be a no-no, naughty tweeters who have been told not to but who think they’re above the restrictions, on-field cheating that is punished by wet bus-ticket slapping, and over the top punishments handed out to a couple of players who carry almost invisible non-official sponsorship on their mouth-guards ($10,000 fine each!!). Of course the IRB will have little problem in taking a ‘hands out’ position over these tournament problems by laying responsibility for dealing with such trivialities up to the NZRFU/Rugby World Cup Inc..

The IRB will probably be snorting at the fracas that have been caused by, at best the shortcomings, or at worst the displays of incompetence by some the referees controlling the games but will again shuffle responsibility for these issues sideways into the court of the International Referees Board.

So at the end of the day/tournament the International Rugby Board, over a few convivial drinks (Heineken?…or perhaps Dom Perignon) will congratulate themselves on another job well done, and move on to reviewing the laws to make sure they cater for the stodgey game played by some of the more influential/wealthy Northern Hemisphere countries (although, to their credit, some of the ‘smaller’ nations did stoop to quite a attractive running/passing game on occasions!) or restrict the mobility of most of the southern hemisphere nations, and to work towards commercial contracts that are more to do with television scheduling and sponsors’ imperatives than they are to do with benefiting The Game.

I have always suffered under the impression (now obviously illusion) that sports administration is there to nurture, foster and promote the game (netball, rugby, athletics, soccer, etc.) It is now my belief that various sports are very poorly served by their collective administrations. This can hold true at the very basest level with clubs becoming more and more susceptible to the whims of the few who are prepared to put in the time but becomes more obvious when at a provincial or national level, then reaching a self-serving rock-bottom with international bodies such as IRB (or ICC, IOC, FIFA, and others.) These closed and apparently self-serving societies have had the sight of their prime imperative clouded by the influence of the mighty $$$. Professionalism has done little for the various sports than made them a trade that now generations of sportsmen and women have been able to make a healthy living from. Neither have the lesser nations gained from the advent of the professional game even though individual players from these countries have travelled to take up contracts in foreign lands. This doesn’t grow the game to the extent that I believe the international administration has a responsibility to do. I can cite the New Zealand national rugby team as an example. It is one of the most visible rugby teams in the world, and is even recognised by many who have little or no interest in the game. The All Blacks are a team that could be a boon to the growth of the game if only they were used as wider-ranging ambassadors. The World Olympic Champions in rugby are the United States but to my knowledge the All Blacks have never played a test in the States and neither have the All Blacks toured there. They have a following, especially among the universities of the Western US and with the success of The Eagles, the US rugby team in tournaments such as the World Cup and the ‘Sevens’ there is a ready market for the game to grow. All that would be required would be for the contact-sport loving spectator-dominated US public to see the stars of International Rugby teams performing live.

The same applies in many other nations of the world where rugby is played as a much more minor sport in soccer dominated countries, Central and Middle European the most obvious but also Asian and the once ‘Iron Curtain’ states. My Club Captain from WAY back went to Europe and Russia on business on a regular basis and he once told us, in the early 70s that when he was in Moscow he was told there were as many club rugby players in that city as there were in New Zealand. You would expect a country with such a player resource would be fairly active on the international scene, but this is certainly not the case. This is another country that has never seen the All Blacks. The All Black international involvement has been pretty much confined to IRB countries (no, not all countries are represented on this august body!) If we went through the list of participants at this year’s Rugby World Cup I am sure that the countries who have had tours by the All Blacks or who have played full Test Matches against them (outside the Rugby World Cup tournament) would be significantly less than those who deserve to have. I have singled out the All Blacks, but to varying degrees the same holds true for all of the other Test-Playing Nations of the IRB. And so I say the IRB are not fulfilling their role in promoting and growing the game world-wide. They should!!

Something that could help some of these underprivileged rugby nations is for the IRB to be convinced to extend their membership to include representatives from those countries on their Council. If you believe they should do this, you can put your name to an on-line petition that calls for Samoa, Tonga and Fiji to have a seat at the Council table as of right. Perhaps then these nations, and others who have largely been ignored by the IRB and the BIG BOYS of international rugby can get a fairer deal and the game can grow in those countries and not just by exporting their players to points around the globe, away from home, family and hardly benefiting the game ‘back in the homeland’.

FIFA

I read where FIFA has dedicated itself to eliminating anti-discrimination from the sport it administers. Couldn’t they be serving the game better for all by eliminating cheating? The displays of cynical diving when an opposing player’s foot comes in contact  (or even NOT making contact) is disgraceful but officials both on and off the field choose to accept the practice. It has been suggested that teams actually practise the ‘art’. We know extensive research has been done by Dr Paul Morris on the mechanics of falls and has identified a range of actions that are conscious ‘dive’ elements as opposed to instinctive defensive elements that occur when a player is actually brought down.

– Holding up both arms in the air, with open palms, chest thrust out, legs bent at the knees in what Morris describes as an ‘archer’s bow’ position.
– Clutching a body part which has clearly not been struck.
– Taking an extra roll when they hit the ground.
– Taking fully controlled strides after a tackle, before falling.

It was also suggested that football referees would be schooled in the findings so they could use that knowledge to clean the game up. Clearly most of those who got their tickets to perform in South Africa didn’t attend any of these courses!!!

It was GREAT to see a player booked in one of the early pool matches NOT for bringing a player down but for taking a ‘dive’. I hoped that this was a sign of things to come but, no. The further the tournament went, and seemingly the ‘bigger’ the team and the higher paid the players were the more prevalent the practice was. And the dramatic display of agony! Anyone would think that the poor player on the ground, rolling around and grimacing and grasping shin/knee/ankle, had suffered something tantamount to a collision with a front end loader or a rampaging cape buffalo! Slow-mo replays then showed the truth. THE CONTACT WAS MINIMAL, IF CONTACT OCCURRED AT ALL, AND THERE WAS NO WAY THE PLAYER WOULD EITHER HAVE BEEN BROUGHT DOWN OR INJURED. (Of course within seconds of the penalty being awarded for the performance the player is back on his feet running around with absolutely no evidence of injury.)

This practice does the game no good at all but FIFA are clearly of a mind to accept that it is a perfectly acceptable part of the game. Just another display of the arrogance and self-serving mindset of too many of world sport’s governing bodies.

Don’t get me started on the IOC, ICC, IRFU!