11 October 2009

Australian professional sport a turn-off

Several items on the TV news this week made me wonder whether Australian professional sport is heading for extinction.

First you had the Socceroos asking for more money when playing for Australia. Given the relatively small financial balance of soccer in Australia, that's a BIG ask. There's only so much money you can wring out of a competition that doesn't really deliver the spectator numbers that equate with wages. I thought it would be enough that the players would be honoured to turn out for their country, rather than make financial demands.

The Wallabies were at it, too, wanting to be paid for what amounts to training, for a Possibles versus Probables match prior to their tour of Japan and Europe, complete with a fourth irrelevant Bledisloe Cup match in Tokyo. So the national rugby union players also seem to have lost their pride in the gold jersey. On this season's performances they are lucky they're getting paid anything at all.

The national cricket team, fresh from victory in a seven-game, one-day series in England, had no sooner won last week's World Cup in South Africa, yet here the players were (in contrived regional teams) at it again in some limited-overs tournament in India. More money. Maybe that can work financially, as it seems the Indians have an unlimited supply of money to throw at a sport played in a handful of countries, just like ...

Netball. Last night I watched as some ridiculous international tournament was being played. It's ridiculous because, it's always the same few Commonwealth nations that play one another, so it's boring. But they have now given "fans" a shortened version of the game, the World Netball Series, complete with rolling substitutions, shooting from outside the goal circle and power plays. God help us. Never mind the "world tournament" has only six teams, including those "powerhouse" sporting nations of Malawi, Jamaica and Samoa. Interesting, no South Africa.

I'm just not sure where sports watchers can find the energy to watch this too-often-repeated diet of mediocrity. If they're like me, they have long ago switched off. I'm going for a swim.

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The PR Lab is a consultancy, specialising on research, reputation management, social media, media relations and the development of measurable strategies that produce results. It is run by Dr Greg Smith, a former journalist and PR professional. Greg worked on daily newspapers in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. He held senior PR positions in the Australian Defence Force, Sydney Olympics and national not-for-profits. He has also lectured in PR at Edith Cowan University and the University of Notre Dame Australia.