Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sporting Politics

You may remember a rant I had about National's criticism of SPARC. Well, Murray McCully was on Morning Sport today and first I must go off track to two things.

1. This is the first interview I have ever heard on Radio Sport where the compere has actually let rip into the interviewee.
2. McCully is one smooth operator.

McCully refused to be drawn on his party's sport policy, but said it will be released soon. He said it will mirror John Key's speech earlier in the year, which was damning of SPARC.

McCully also criticised the SPARC programs aimed at young children [something which has been repeated by many National MP's] and it seems the party will remove this obligation on SPARC and direct they to direct ALL their funding at high performance atheles. Which I think is illogical [How do you get athletes to be great without funding them earlier in their career?]. I have my own personal beliefs on the SPARC programs, but am interested to hear those of others.

Current Minister of Sport and Recreation and Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove will appear on Morning Sport tomorrow to discuss the same issue.

As a side note, I am trying to get Back Benches host Wallace Chapman to have a show on the subject of sport. If it is successful, I hope to see you there.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Biggest Problem... Yeah Right

Remember after the last world cup, when all those All Blacks buggered off over to shag good looking French birds and drink wine, or if you were a forward, to fight football hooligans and sleep with fat English birds, Steve Tew and Jock Hobbs bemoaning the fact that all these fat cats with their big wallets were destroying the domestic competition for us? That it was causing us to rush players into professional rugby before they were ready for it?

I'm here to tell you a story of that very situation. In 2006 two holy groups joined together in domestic rugby bliss. A honeymoon period ensued where the new pairing celebrated their first point in the competition, were steamrolled by a dominant fathering union, before recording their first win in round three against a semi-rural team which had only just taken the big step up to face the big boys.

For those who haven't already guessed, I'm talking about Tasman. Now, I'm not going to get on the NZRU's back because at the end of last season they were certainly gone for all money and wouldn't have made too many noises if they had been dumped in the off season.

But, I think this years competition has been good [possibly due to the exclusion of the All Blacks] in evening the competition - If you had told someone at the end of the NPC that Southland, Northland, Taranaki, Hawke's Bay and Bay of Plenty would all make the top 8 two years later while Auckland, North Harbour and Otago would not progress past the knockout stage they would have taken the car keys off you and called you a cab to go home. Yet that is exactly the situation we have seen and I personally hope it continues. Those 'small' unions are slowly becoming more financially viable and signing/keeping their big players. [Hawke's Bay + Thomas Waldrom, good deal mateys. And Taranaki will be a good unit next season.]

Anyway, back to the Tasman thing. They've been competitive, rattling Wellington for a while and almost capturing the Ranfurly Shield. If Marlborough pull out of the merger though, the NZRU has said it will pull the plug. The entire board of Tasman has also just stood down in an effort to fix the rift between Marlborough and Nelson Bays, the two unions forming Tasman. Hang on, if Tasman collapses, who benefits from the whole three season ordeal? Oh yeah, the Crusaders, in receiving the services of Todd Blackadder [refer to earlier point about inexperience being rushed to the top] in some kind of South Island incestuous self-fulfulling prophecy.

In any case, if Marlborough pull out, shouldn't Nelson Bays be allowed to find another merger partner? In some weird way I could see West Coast or Horowhenua-Kapiti being keen to get out of the Heartland.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Sporting Funnies

This made me laugh, so I had to upload it.
Lush cuts off the BSport guys and they get their revenge the next day.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

The All Blacks 15 I'd take Up North.

This is the team I'd pick, based on Air NZ Cup performance if I was Graham Henry and operating under a 'well you Northern f***ers bring development 'first grade' teams down here, so we'll send one up to you guys'.

Edit: The ones I got right are in bold.

1. Fakaa’naua Taumalolo
2. Andrew Hore
3. Neemia Tialata
4. Ali Williams
5. Anthony Boric
6. Scott Waldrom
7. Adam Thompson
8. Jerome Kaino

9. Jimmy Cowan
10. Willie Ripia
11. Joe Rokocoko
12. Ma'a Nonu
13. Conrad Smith

14. Zac Guilford/Hosea Gear
15. Jonathan Spratt


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Don't Vote for National

Now, although the title is deceiving, I don't want to stir up anything.
I think sport and parliament should be as far removed as possible, bar funding.
But this seems to have been forgotten. By this, for those too lazy to click the link, I'm talking about National leader John Key's speech on sport at a lunch. I'd like to draw attention specifically to this:

"Take Sport and Recreation New Zealand (Sparc). This is the government agency charged with promoting physical activity and supporting elite athletes. Last year, Sparc had 86 full-time staff. Fourteen of those staff were paid more than $150,000 a year, while 47 of them earned more than $100,000 a year.

You would hope those staff were busy putting funds directly into regional sports trusts, clubs, and national sporting bodies. But no, almost a third of the money Sparc receives - $35 million in fact – never makes it outside the Wellington office....

An incoming National Government will have a look at all these programmes, regardless of which portfolio technically funds them, to ensure we get the balance right between funding promotional programmes and telling people to lead healthier lifestyles, and funding actual sports organisations with actual facilities at which sport is actually being played.

It's clear that with a firm sense of priorities, and a disciplined approach to taxpayer funds, National will be able to free up meaningful additional funding for schools and sports clubs. "

That's a very longwinded quote (but then again, it's a political speech) but what Key is saying without saying anything is that he wants to pull SPARC funding and shovel it into education. I have nothing against education, but what I have an issue with is that SPARC seems to be perceived as operating solely as an elite sport body. While it is true that SPARC operates for elite athletes, it also focuses on schools. In fact, if it wasn't for SPARC and the Kiwi Kids holiday program (the actual name escapes me) I would have only stuck with cricket and football, without experiencing any other sport.

It is my personal belief that where SPARC does not perform is in the middle sector. The majority of funding goes to world class atheletes and children, but the high-school and university age athletes have to seek sponsorship or have their school foot the bill (as I have personally experienced).

Now, neither party has released a policy on sport (a point which was noted by a caller, Graham, on BSport yesterday) but we know Labour has a strong commitment to sport (what with there being a Minister for the Rugby World Cup - I don't neccessarily agree with this, but nevertheless) while National appears committed to cutting sport funding... To fund tax cuts perhaps?

As I said, don't take this to be influencing your vote. I just want to draw attention to an overlooked issue.

What are your thoughts? Should sport be governed independently or should the Government have full control? Should SPARC be funded by the Government or seek money from the private sector?


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It's Coming Closer.

Oh and


Monday, October 13, 2008

Will she be white, bro?

In case you missed it, Richard Boock wrote an article on racism in sport in yesterdays Sunday Star Times. BSport had a discussion on the subject, with Lonergan furious at what he percieves as a lack of representation on the board of SPARC and various other sporting bodies.

Now, I agree with Lonergan's points, but do we really need a quota of Polynesian/Maori people on sporting bodies? What is to says that Va'aiga Tuigamala [Lonergan's expert on the subject] is going to be any more representative of the group than somebody from a European-Kiwi background?

Let's not forget that this is New Zealand, where businesses and organisations are bound to stick to certain roles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

As to Boock's belief that there is a racist culture who believes that 'blacks' cannot play in pivotal roles in New Zealand, WHAT?

Mils Muliaina? Ma'a Nonu? Jesse Ryder? Michael Campbell? Piri Weepu?

Those who argue that the lack of Polynesian/Maori's at top level Hockey, Cricket, Athletics etc, I'd suggest you look at American sport. I was having a discussion on the subject with my flatmate who hails from Boston not so long ago. What he was saying was that the reason there are not many black quarterbacks or kickers is to do with the upbringing of these children, not the coaching structure.

What Ben was saying was that the majority of African-American's involved in NFL originally started on a path toward professional basketball. It seems that due to the way the American structure works, these kids get into NCAA Basketball, but get poached by football coaches shortly afterward as the athletic skills required by wide receivers and safety's are similar to those required by basketballers. Ben claims that this is now a career path that kids in the States actively pursue.

On top of that, he said that the kids from the ghetto areas are more likely to go after basketball as they know someone who has 'made it', can participate with friends and... The costs are low, with a ball the only equipment neccessary.

Well, while New Zealand isn't a parallel of that, I think that the 'minor' sports miss out on that Polynesian/Maori experience due to a lack of funding and exposure. When is the last time you heard of a New Zealand Hockey player being sent to Europe for a year to develop their skills? Or how about an NZ football signing a $2m contract?


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Live Blogging Bathurst

Thanks to Hadyn at Dropkicks for the idea.
I'm working today and started at 1300, so missed the first wee while (which I'm not too happy about).

LAP 28: Skaife is in for his first CPS. The Kelly/Dumbrell 16 has just been wheeled into the pits.
LAP 29: The lead car of Courtney/Besnard has also just pitted. Looks like Besnard has just jumped in the car. Besnard and the 51 of Wood/Noske just had a fantastic drag up mountain straight, with the 51 coming out on top. Looks like Lowndes/Whincup's 888 is now leading.
LAP 30: Courtney is being interviewed and looks quite happy and confident. Will be interesting to see if that changes as the race goes on.
LAP 31: Pit lane has sprung into life, with the 14, 33 and somebody else (looks like the 55?) all in. They stay in this order.
Besnard just put a fantastic move on 51 out of the Chase.
LAP 32: The 18 of Davison/Johnson is in. They dropped the car early and the crew member helping Johnson climb in got whacked in the head. He looks ok. #2 is also in, with a driver change.
LAP 33: Lowndes is sliding the 888 like a maniac across the top! Morris has just jumped in 39, after Ingall did well in the first stint. 25 of Bright/Macrow has also come in, but I don't think there was a driver change.
LAP 34: 888 is in, with half a lap to spare over Besnard in 4. Whincup has jumped into the car. Whincup has come out in front!!! Besnard did not try to pull alongside up mountain straight, but looks for the inside line into the cutting. Whincup shuts the door.
LAP 35: Whincup and Besnard continue. Besnard gained a couple of tenths heading up mountain straight anddddd. Ad break.

LAP 36: 51 is in the pits, looks like there was a problem as it's being pushed by the crew.
LAP 37: The 3 of Murph/J. Richards just blasted past Besnard into the chase. The top three is now 888, 3, 4.
LAP 38: No sooner than they get to second does the 3 pit for brake change. BIG PROBLEM FOR 12, the front is rooted. Looks like the took turn 2 too hard, swung out, spun and punched the wall on the inside.
LAP 39: 12 gets to the pits and goes straight into the garage. Ad break.
LAP 42: 6 just got around 4, I think Frosty is at the wheel of 6. They've interviewed Courtney and Ross Stone, so I think there may be a problem with the 4. Awesome super slo-mo footage of Besnard locking the front left just now.
LAP 43: Interviewing Tander, who looks hquietly confident. I must say, the number 1 is doing well. 39 went off at the Chase.
LAP 45: One of the DJR cars is in the pits, possibly 18. One of the tires ripped off was rooted and it looks like the car took off before the refueler was done.
LAP 46: Geez, the number 6 is looking tidy. 888 is in front of them by 27 seconds though. Ad break.

LAP 47: 9 is in for a brake pad change. Van Gisbergen is doing well so far.
LAP 48: Number 25, with I think Bright at the wheel, is all over number 4.
LAP 50: 18 is battling to get around the HRT #1!
LAP 51: Johnson's got a run on Skaife/Tander into turn one AND HE'S GOT PAST! Now the 55 is lining up for a crack and it looks like he got past too.
LAP 52: 34 is in the pits, so is the 5 on Youlden and Canto which has been on the pace more or less. Mix up in the 34, the driver got out (possibly Ritter) for a driver change, but there was nobody to jump in for him! He promptly got shoved back in by a crew member.
LAP 54: Coulthard's 111 is in the pits, that's another car that has been running well. 1 is in as well and Tander has just jumped in. Order is 888, 6, 39.
LAP 55: Ad break.

LAP 57: 4 is in the pits, Courtney has jumped in. 6 is also in, with Richards getting behind the wheel. I have to do some real work now, so will update in a few.

LAP 80: I'm back in action and it looks like Price has set a new lap record!!! 0.032!! That's lightening quick. But seriously, what's gone wrong with the timing monitors? Looks like all the tires are tearing themselves to shreds too.
LAP 81: Tander runs wide at the chase trying to get past the 39 of Morris/Ingall!
LAP 82: We're getting a technical explanation of negative camber (where the tire is fitted on an angle so when driving straight only a little bit makes contact, but during cornering the tire rolls so the full surface touches the road. Ad break.

Lap 84: Running order is Lowndes, Davison, Ingall, Richards. A DJR pit member just held a board out telling Davison to check his earpugs. I hate not having audio, but could this be a repeat of balaclavagate?
LAP 85: Lowndes has a 2 second lead over Davison. The top 10 are pretty compacted overall, which bodes well for the rest of the race. Ad break

LAP 87: Paul Cruickshank is being interviewed and says there may be a second car next year. Good to see him being interviewed. Running order is Lowndes/Davison/Ingall/Murphy.

LAP 100: What the hell? I do some work, come back and Murphy/Richards are in the lead, while Mark Skaife in the 1 has gone off the track!
LAP 101: Car 3 is in the pits. Richards has jumped in the drivers seat. I'm not even sure of who is leading what at this stage.
LAP 102: 888 is trying to catch 1. Not sure if this will put them a lap down, or if it is for position. Nope, it's for position, although Skaife has to pit again soon. Ad break.

LAP 104: Skaife has effectively ruined the HRT 1's chances, running wide after what looks like a tyre problem. Lots of race tape has been applied and the team will be hoping the light stays good, as their lights will be useless. Now what does this mean for Whincup and Winterbottom, who are chasing the championship?
LAP 105: Focusing on Luke Youlden in the second FPR car. OThe DJR 18 has just pitted, tyres only.
LAP 106: There's only been one safety car so far in the race which is odd. Whoops, I spoke too soon. Car 34 has spun and is deep in the gravel at McPhillamey Park it looks like. Safety car is on track. Car 33 also spun at the final turn, did a big four wheel drift trying to get around number 6.
LAP 107: Pit lane is busy.
LAP 108: Number 6 just got around 2 at the chase and now 111 is lining up for a crack.
LAP 109: Running order Whincup/Macrow/Winterbottom. 33 just punted off 777 at the chase, while 6 has rounded up Macrow.
LAP 110: Winterbottom is hustling!
Lap 113: Winterbottom and Whincup are getting closer. Ad break.

LAP 115: A freight train is forming behind one of the Jack Daniel's cars. Whincup/Winterbottom/Macrow is the order.
LAP 116: 25 is in the pits, I think Brighty will jump in. Nope, looks like tyres and fuel only. Two cars have pushed the 14 out of the way to get past and now the 51 and 4 are stuck behind 88, looking to out-drag the European pairing down Conrod. The 88 has a decent whack of horsepower, but 51 and 4 get him at the chase and 55 looks to get an inside run into the final turn. Yep, he's through.
LAP 117: Courtney (I think) is trying to round up number 51, but it looks like 51 is using some pretty sharp defensive lines. The SBR car got him down Conrod, while 55 rounded him up into the chase.
LAP 119: Car 3 just outdragged 88 along pit straight. Ad break.

LAP 122: Car 18 is in AGAIN (Another tyre is rooted) and Dick Johnson is having some stern words with Dunlop officials. Ad break.

LAP 125: Frosty's out on his own and pedalling hard.
LAP 126: 111 is in, looks like Coulthard may have jumped in. I'd guess he's going to double-stint to the end. Came out behind 18 and ahead of 25, which isn't bad! Meanwhile 33 is all over the back of 88.
LAP 127: The Kelly/Dumbrell 16 is back out, hunting for points I guess. Meanwhile the PMM 67 went deep into the chase and did a bit of motocross.
LAP 128: Safety car. Not sure what for, took my eyes off. Everyone is in to fill up and change drivers, looking to double stint. This is where it gets hard to know who is in what. 111 is back in for some reason. 6 has pitted too, with Richards jumping in! It looks like 67 went off that the chase again, which is possibly the trigger for the SC period. Ingall is behind the wheel of 39. The order appears to be 4, 888, 6.
LAP 30: Underway again. 888 rounded up 1 well, but Richards in 6 is stuck behind him over the top of the mountain. That tape can't help 1's aerodynamics, so I expect 6 will round him up down Conrod. Nope, I was wrong!
LAP 131: 6 has got past, but 3 is right on Richard's arse down Conrod, while Jamie Whincup looks like Dory from Finding Nemo as he is interviewed on mute.
LAP 132: Here's a spit roast you wouldn't want to join, Whincup is on the left and Craig Lowndes is on the right (in car camera, obviously). Ad break.

LAP 135: Huge focus on car 39, which has a little bit of blue smoke coming from the back. No! Keep going, win and turn my $5 into $175!!! 6 has pulled a reasonable lead away from 3.
LAP 136: A whole bunch of people were looking down the inside into turn two just now.
LAP 137: Jeez, that DJR car has balls, roaring up mountain straight.
LAP 138: Ingall's out! 4 is in the pits. So is 6! Lots of gravel in the front radiator. I don't think this was a planned stop.
LAP 139: 88 has spun! Looks like a safety car will be out.
LAP ???: Car 33 is stranded, safety car is out. Order appears to be 888/6/3. Ad break.

LAP 143: 6 is trying to hustle up to 888, but 3 looks around the outside at 2 AND HE'S GOT THROUGH! 6 comes back though before the cutting. He's pulling away now, but 3's oming back down Conrod thanks to the draft. 888 has about 2 seconds lead.
LAP 144: Slo-mo replay shows something flying from 4, but doesn't look too critical.
LAP 145: 67 is in the tyre wall! Looks like it might be at the end of the chase, where Radisich crashed in 2006. (Edit: Nup, it's at the final turn) Safety car is out. Ad break.

LAP 147: Restart and already HRT 2 is out! Straight into the tyres at turn two! And we get to see a dirty ginger in the HRT garage look disappointed. (Guess they really take this 'red' thing seriously huh?) In their defence, 17 took a wild dive inside and clipped the rear right, sending them out of control. Safety car and ad break.

LAP ???: Order is still 888/6/3. Frosty is looking pretty happy and is still in his leathers, so I guess there is a possibility of a driver change at their final stop.
LAP 150: Racing again. 17 has a black flag!
LAP 151: 4 is making serious moves to get past 14...
LAP 152: ... And it's continuing. Just keeps your cool James, don't bin it with 10 to go! 888 just breezed past 777, as did 6, 3, 14 and 4.
LAP 153: 3 is right on 6's ass, but the pair appear to be making subtle gains on 888. I just saw 021 is on the track on the timing monitor! Courtney just rounded up 14.
LAP 155: Although I don't want to admit it, I think the FPR 6 has conceded defeat to 888 and is looking to the longer situation, the championship.
LAP 156: SPECTACULAR slo-mo shot of something dripping out the back of 3. That was gorgeous.
LAP 157: 2 second gap between 888 and 6.
LAP 158: 6 is continuing to hold off 3, but struggling to gain any ground on 888. HE JUST WENT WIDE AT THE CHASE! 3 ALONGSIDE INTO THE FINAL TURN AND HE'S THROUGH!
LAP 159: Be interesting to see if 3 can chase down 888 with 3 laps to run. 777 has spun in a dangerous possie and buried in the wall, will this bring out the SC?! He's limping around the track. 3's catching 888. This is exciting! 4 has just pushed 6 out of the way!
LAP 160: Frosty Winterbottom looks really upset, he's just watched a podium slip away over the past two laps.
LAP 161: 2.8 seconds between Lowndes in the 888 in P1 and Murph in 3 in P2. At a guess I'd say Lowndes has it stiched up, I don't think Lowndes was gunning for it the past wee while. Lowndes has won! Triple 8 take three in a row!!! Murph/J Richards second and Courtney/Besnard third. For the record, Murph finished 2.4 seconds behind.


Circle driving: It ain't just about two races.

It's Bathurst weekend. Yet another chance for New Zealanders to pretend to care about motorsport and for the Holden 'fans' to come crawling out of the woodwork to slang the Fords. There was an interesting interview on Radio Sport with Mark Winterbottom yesterday, which proved this very point.

But it was odd, because D'Arcy Waldegrave comes from a motorsport background, having done commentary for the then Shell Helix Motorsport, as well as this years Rally New Zealand. On a side note, BSport is a far better station and I encourage you all to listen to it, for the simple fact that [to coin a cliche] they ask the hard questions. Just listen to the interview with Steve Tew from last week and this will be apparent. But I digress.

I can remember going to the old Mobil street races in Wellington and meeting Peter Brock (my mother was a flag marshall) and watching Bathurst a couple of times as a kid. My father had a good run in go-karts and Formula Ford during his university days, but oddly, my family is not motorsport orientated. I'm the odd one out.
It was the 2004 season, at the age o 16, that I saw my first race. My father had been flicking through tv channels and I was laid up on the couch with the flu. All of a sudden, a wet race track comes on tv right as Marcos Ambrose at the Eastern Creek round goes off and gets collected as he reenters ahead of Todd Kelly.

That was it. I was captivated. I made my father promise to take me to Pukekohe that year (we were living in Auckland at the time) and he did so.

So, as an avid (meaning I spend at least two hours at work each day catching up on the V8 news) V8SC fan, it really irritates me when Bathurst rolls around. I love the race. I love the track. But what it is is this sudden feigned interest by broadcasters. My father once told me that Pukekohe and Bathurst are 'the only races that matter' (during a debate on the merits of Greg Murphy, to put it into context) and I think this is true of the New Zealand media. I'm so glad that TV3 have wrestled the rights off TV ONE, where for years I had to deal with staying up until 1am on a school/work night to watch a race held 7 hours previous.

But still, if you watch the news from this week, it's all just Greg 'Murph' Murphy and Jason 'Jase' Richards (Nothing against you Jase, but I hate Nelson so I can't root for you). This was evidenced when the TAB had them priced as third favourites in a year where I struggle to remember either breaking the top 10, bar Jason's fantastic drive at Winton.

Where is the love for Lowndes/Whincup? Tander/Skaife? Winterbottom/S. Richards (go you beauties)? Ingall/Morris? Dumbrell/Kelly? (Feel sorry for Dave Reynolds, touted as HRT's answer to Lewis Hamilton and last year doesn't get to turn a lap when McConville's engine gives out and this year gets his place taken by Kelly after Radisich bins it in practice. PS hope you're ok Paul, and not reliving 2006 too much.)


Saturday, October 11, 2008

BLACKCAPS should ship up, sell out.

It's been a while since the last posting, but with a new motivation to blog, I shall attempt to re-start this thing, and it is possible I should branch out into sports other than rugby.

Hadyn of Dropkicks and Public Address fame has taken to discussing uniforms, one of my favourite aspects of sport. By far the worst (and weirdest) uniform to come out of New Zealand this year is that of the BLACKCAPS. For starters, it's got those weird shapes that only a geometry professor can love. Secondly, there was all the discussion of the 'technological advancements' the uniform. Seriously, aside from climacool, what the hell else could benefit a cricketer? Skins, to aid their muscles from all that running (or not) that the fielders do?

Anyway, the point of this post was to talk about advertising. I am of two minds when it comes to advertising in sport. While I don't like to see good uniforms ruined by massive logos, I do like to see creative advertising, such as that on the back of an NRL team I can't remember's shorts, where it would make the logo of the company. (I think it was either the Titans or Dragons, but can't find it on either. And yes, some of us are still upset about the disappearance of the Illawarra Steelers.)
Now, while watching the second test of the BLACKCAPS current tour of Bangladesh, I couldn't help but wonder... Why does nobody advertise on the face of the bat? We've got advertising on helmets, wickets, uniform, even the boundary rope. But if you think about it, in a 50 over match, with every ball bowled, you'll see the face of the bat 600 times. That's not including slow-motion replays. If you could get your logo on that piece of real estate, you'd be a lot more visible than a logo on the chest (because, when you think about it, batsmen stand side on, bowlers always have an arm in the way and fielders when standing still always have their bloody arms folded!

Imagine how nice a National Bank horse would look on Patel's bat as he smacks a six to make the tail wag. Something to think about, I reckon.