This is why I watch

Sport is a beautifully horrible thing. For every winner there is a loser, for every elation there is heartache, for every missed opportunity there is a reward. They might be years apart, but things tend to level out on the playing field.

 If it wasn’t for the horrible losses, I’m not sure that I’d be as invested in sport as I am. Thankfully my selection of sporting teams has always been there to remind me there is more failure than success. As a nation we’re seen as a sporting prowess, which is awful kind according to the people who haven’t walked a mile in our shoes.

An honourable mention to Tony Vidmar who played a huge part in what would be the 6th entry on this list.

An honourable mention to Tony Vidmar who played a huge part in what would be the 6th entry on this list.

According to my research, I’ve spent 10,349 days living and breathing. Sport has been there from the start and one constant has been that heartbreak is just around the corner.  It’s with a heavy heart I write this list, as this morning the Boomers were unfortunate enough to not only add another chapter, but to give the top spot a nudge. This of course, has pushed me towards one question – What are the five biggest heartbreakers I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing thanks to a national sporting team?

1.Australia V Iran (Football), 22nd November 1997 – I hope this remains the worst thing I ever experience from a team in green and gold. A two-goal lead, 20 minutes left and a first World Cup in 24 years. Nothing could possibly go wrong, to the point where my dad told me I could safely go to bed. I woke up the next morning euphoric, we were off to the World Cup – the promised land. I’d heard the stories of heartache that my dad had experienced for 24 years and I was fortunate enough to have avoided them. Dad looked like he’d seen a ghost when he got up, and I simply couldn’t believe it. Eight years more heartache was waiting for me. I hate you Peter Hore .

2.Australia V Spain (Basketball), 22nd August 2016- If someone offered me one bad game from the Boomers and a top four finish two weeks ago, I’d have bitten their arm off. This is unquestionably the best Boomers outfit of my life. Halfway through the second quarter we were gone, but we found something. Baynes and Mills helped us put together a run and we had the lead multiple times in the fourth quarter. The one missing thing was back-to-back buckets when we had the lead. We had no trouble getting stops but we just couldn’t convert. Foul or no foul with five seconds left, watching the ball squirt into the backcourt as time evaporated at a rate of knots left me feeling sick to my stomach.

3. Australia V England (Rugby Union), 22nd November 2003 – I hope somebody decides Australia never again play sport on November the 22nd. If Elton Flatley’s conversion attempt of Lote Tuqiri’s try in the 4th minute comes off the inside of the post, we win. The rest of the game doesn’t change because the ball is kicked off in the same manner and we win 19-17 instead of losing 20-17, thanks to none other than Jonny Wilkinson, who kicked a drop goal in dying stages of extra time. The confidence from the squad and the media had made me believe for the entire week leading into the game that it was a forgone conclusion. I have absolutely no shame in admitting that a few tears escaped as that perfectly executed drop goal sailed right over the black dot.

4. Australia V Italy (Football), 26th June 2006 – The scene of the Tim Cahill show against Japan, a win against Italy would have afforded us the opportunity to play Ukraine, followed by Germany, followed by France. Call me a dreamer, but I thought we could go all the way. With a man advantage, we couldn’t penetrate the Italian back four for all the steins in Munich. A Fabio Grosso dive combined with a poorly timed Lucas Neill lunge and Totti used the last kick of the game to ruin something I thought I’d been through hell to see (see the clubhouse leader on this list and honourable mention Uruguay in November 2001 for further information). There is still nothing better than seeing Italy knocked out of a major tournament.

5. Australia V South Africa (Cricket), 5th & 6th of January 1994 – Chasing 117 at the Sydney Cricket Ground should be an easy task for the likes of Waugh (M), Boon, Border, Taylor and Slater. Especially when facing a bowling attack including a (very young) Allan Donald, De Villiers and Symcox. So how do you go from 2-51 to all out for 111? Losing 5-22 doesn’t help, and nor does having Craig McDermott top scoring with 29*.  At least that collapse was a blip on the radar as we went on to be one of the most successful sides of the next decade.

 

 

I did not enjoying finding or watching any of these videos. Viewer discretion is advised.

I’d love to say that this has been a fun list to write, yet all it has done has made me question why I love sport so much, while clearly reiterating that the reason for the emotional investment is because there is no shortage of positives for each of these experiences. Long live sport and I hope this list never changes.

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Minor flaws diminish FFA Cup coverage

The Fox Sports coverage of the FFA Cup is fantastic. Full camera main game coverage, goal updates from other grounds and great studio coverage but they’ve been caught offside with one simple decision.

Broadcasting A-League teams when you don’t need to.

I understand there are going to be days where only A-League teams are playing and for obvious reasons it’s Westfield_FFA_Cup_logounavoidable but when there is an all NPL clash, that’s what I want to see.

Why? Because the FFA Cup is about the experiences for NPL teams they aren’t going to have every week. Balmain won’t get to play the Victory every week, but the Victory are going to be on TV every week. It’s a tough break for Balmain, but South Hobart and Sydney United or Gungahlin United and Sydney United should have been the broadcast game last night.

As a football fan I want to see the little guys getting the exposure. Show me the 2015 South Springvale over the reigning A-League champs – purely because there is a greater entertainment value in games where you have two unknowns than one unknown and one known (Balmain lost 6-0, South Hobart and Sydney United went to penalties and Sydney Olympic needed an 82nd minute winner to see of Gungahlin).

It’s great to see the magazine style show “Field to Dreams”(awful movie ripoff alert) before the pre-game coverage, but do I really need a 15 minute infomercial on the history of an A-League club? No. There is no new information. When the opportunity presents the most important thing is to give consumers information they don’t know, not a story they’ve heard multiple times.

Tonight sees another night of action with Sorrento FC and Sydney FC the main broadcast game, the Northern Territory have their first foray into the Round of 32 when Darwin Olympic face Adelaide United, Rockdale City face Perth SC and the Croydon Kings take on the Queensland Lions to round out the action.

Needless to say – there are games I’d rather be watching.

I DEMAND EQUALITY

The Women’s World Cup Final was both an entertaining game and a bust. The Women’s World Cup as a whole shows the great leaps being made by women’s sport both in Australia and abroad. Fans are demanding equality…. Where it suits them.

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The Pararoos in action and the recent Cerebral Palsy World Championships.

The Matildas had a wonderful campaign in Canada. They progressed further than any Australian team has at a World Cup and gave a new generation of heroes to young football fans across Australia, and more importantly gave female footballers a look at what they can achieve.

After the final yesterday Social Media became flooded with posts talking about the need for more women’s sport on television and I couldn’t agree more. What I don’t agree with is the push for equality when the equality is convenient for you. If you want equality you want it across the board or you don’t want it at all.

MEN’S AND WOMEN’S SPORT MUST HAVE EQUAL TELEVISION RIGHTS AND VIEWERSHIP. That’s nice, even though it isn’t true. The demand isn’t the same, so the money won’t be the same and the exposure won’t be the same. Which brings me to my main point.

You love equality? How much of the Cerebral Palsy World Championships did you watch from England? They were on at the same time. After all you want all sport to be recognised, yes?

The last twelve months have seen some fantastic coverage for the Pararoos, however it was for all the wrong reasons after funding was cut. At times it looked like there would be no more Paralympic Football in Australia, a huge loss not only for those who aspire to be Pararoos but for those who use football as a form of physical therapy (yes, that’s a real thing).

The Pararoos headed to England with their sights set on qualifying for the Rio 2016 Paralympics, which would have been their first games since Sydney 200o should they have qualified. They returned home the eleventh best team in the world, unfortunately missing on on Paralympic qualification in the process.

On numbers alone from their last World Cup performance the Pararoos finished slightly lower than the Matildas and well above the Socceroos, yet most people wouldn’t be able to name one player in the team.

Eleventh for a team who a year ago had their funding cut. I’m not asking for FTA coverage as I know it’s unrealistic. You could watch every game of the CP World Championships live on YouTube. Why weren’t the FFA promoting the life out of this? I’ll never know. Across the board Women’s sport gets centre stage 1-2 twice a year. Do I think that enough? Of course it isn’t. Paralympians get once every four years, and the winter athletes get treated like more of a novelty than the summer athletes. Tell me again how female athletes are the most marginalised in this country?

Sadly there is only so much space in the media (although the space is expanding). That space goes to the sports and athletes that are going to generate the most revenue and interest (in that order). Women’s and Disability sport will do neither of those things as well as Men’s sport will. The solution? Make noise. Go to games, get on Social Media, annoy all of your friends to watch, write about what you’re seeing. If there isn’t a market and you think it exists, make it happen. Just don’t talk about equality for what suits you. Make it happen for everyone.

There isn’t an athlete at any level who doesn’t deserve to have the spotlight of the world shining on them. The fact of the matter remains that the world isn’t big enough yet, so the light can’t be as bright as we’d all like.