THE VIEW FROM DOWN HERE #109 – sportsportsport

Finals fast approach, international sporting events happen and I explain what the Commonwealth Games might actually be. All that and the ranting and raving of a sports-obsessed lunatic with too much time on his hands and no life to speak of.

Australian Rules Football
AFL Finals Week 1
Qualifying Final 1: Geelong 11.13 (79) def by St Kilda 12.11 (83)
Elimination Final 1: Fremantle 14.10 (94) def Hawthorn 8.16 (64)
            Bye, bye, Hawthorn!
Qualifying Final 2: Collingwood 17.22 (124) hammered Western Bulldogs 8.14 (62)
Elimination Final 2: Sydney 14.15 (99) def Carlton 13.16 (94)
            See ya later, Carlton!
Hot on the heels of everything we’ve read and seen about Ben Cousins comes the news a Hawthorn player has been suspended for 22 weeks for violating the AFL’s so-called drug policy. His club is saying that the fact they didn’t know about his problems earlier means they had trouble helping him; the AFL has responded that the players would never have agreed to a drugs policy at all if they knew their clubs were going to find out. So the privacy of keeping some one’s habits away from their employer when it could be detrimental to their job takes precedence over their employer being able to help them? The AFL has a designed a drug policy with one purpose and one purpose only – to minimise their own bad publicity. They do not care about the players or the clubs, just the bottom line and how they are perceived. Overpaid bureaucrats running a sport with one eye on a future political career, the other on their own publicity and being famous, more so than the actual people playing the game. And the fact that this poor youngster did not slip through the net like Cousins and has had his life irrevocably changed just makes the AFL head honchos puff themselves up and pat themselves on the back and say they’ve done a wonderful job, we’ve stopped a druggie, and leaving this kid, for all they care, on the scrapheap. If it were not for Hawthorn coming to his aid, this kid would most likely end up in a very bad way. But he’s not making them any money, so what does the AFL care?
SANFL Round 23
Central Districts 7.8 (50) def Glenelg 3.7 (25)
Port Adelaide Magpies 4.9 (33) def by North Adelaide 6.11 (47)
Norwood 8.15 (63) def West Adelaide 2.9 (21)
Woodville-West Torrens 4.3 (27) def by Sturt 9.11 (65)
            Before looking at scores and saying what a lousy round, this weekend has seen some of the worst weather in South Australia for almost a decade. Shocking to play sport in.
Bye: South Adelaide
Ladder at end of minor round:
Central Districts
Woodville-West Torrens
West Adelaide
North Adelaide
Port Adelaide
South Adelaide
None of interest.
            And why is that, you may ask? You would think that with both South Australian teams out of the so-called national (in name only) competition the AFL, the local league would be promoting the hell out of their final round and their own upcoming finals series. Wouldn’t you? Well, no. Not a bit. Being the lackeys of the AFL that they are, the SANFL matches have gotten about as much love as the local under-8s. Instead all they care about is the chance we might possibly one day get maybe, if things go well, football at AFL level in the CBD, potentially sometime in the future. No, don’t focus on the games and getting people in to watch the local product. No. That would be counter-productive to what the SANFL are clearly trying to do – destroy local football so that the AFL is the only game in town.

Rugby League
NRL – Round 26
Gold Coast 21 def Wests Tigers 18
Brisbane 16 def by Canberra 18
Parramatta 12 def by Warriors 26
North Queensland 8 def by Sydney Roosters 18
Penrith 50 def Cronulla 12
Melbourne 34 def Newcastle 4
            And Melbourne’s pointless season comes to an end with a win that will not even be registered.
Manly 24 def by Canterbury-Bankstown 30
St George Illawarra 38 def South Sydney 24
Ladder at end of minor round:
St George Illawarra
Wests Tigers
Gold Coast
New Zealand Warriors
Sydney Roosters
And the following missed out, and their seasons are now over:
South Sydney
North Queensland
Melbourne (though based on their actual results, they would have finished fourth…)
Now the police have been called in to the betting scandal. Of course, now that it’s official, no word is leaking about where the investigation is headed, but for it to go this far, you just know that things are not good.

The Pakistan cricket scandal just keeps on growing. Members of the Australian team have told of approaches to them in London (where they played Pakistan on neutral ground) which were reported to all relevant authorities at the time. So it’s not a new revelation, but on the heels of everything else, it’s damning. The result of a test against Australia in Australia is also being examined closely. Three Pakistani players have been suspended, and face treason charges back home, which comes with a death sentence, and now a fourth is also being investigated. Yes, that’s right – the Pakistani government, in the midst of having the Taliban use their country as a base, having a military that doesn’t mind playing countries there to help them against sides there to hinder them, having a democracy that is always on the edge of collapse and anarchy, have decided that killing cricketers will solve their problems. Of course, the players are denying any involvement and because of the Subcontinent bloc in the cricketing world, they will most likely get away with it even if they did do it. But what gets me about this whole thing was that it all came from a sting organised by a newspaper in London. Why couldn’t cricket’s much-touted anti-corruption people get that sort of information? What in the hell are they doing – just sitting in offices, making bland statements and raking in money? What? That IS what they’re doing?
            So that’s where the AFL learnt to do it…

Australia 0 drew with Switzerland 0
A-League Round 5
Central Coast Mariners 2 def Melbourne Victory 0
Melbourne Heart 1 def North Queensland Fury 0
Sydney 1 def by Adelaide United 3
Newcastle Jets 0 drew with Brisbane Roar 0
Perth Glory 2 def Wellington Phoenix 1
All the soccer news involves players wanting more and more insane amounts of money for playing a game where you basically kick a ball around for ninety minutes with a bit of deft footwork, some small bursts of speed and a lot of jogging. Players want to change clubs and are asking their own clubs for cash. The reason soccer is so popular is because it is so easy. If skill mattered, gymnastics would be the most popular sport in the world. And I’ll say it again – soccer is the McDonalds of world sport. And you don’t see Maccas kitchen hands being traded for obscene amounts of money (“They say I’ll get $24 per zit each hour. Can you match it?”), or Big Macs selling for $1.2 million on eBay (even if they do have the face of Christ in them), so why should soccer players get twenty times more per match than those guys trying to find a cure for cancer get in their entire working lives?
            Oh, and one last rant. I’ve done some research (real research, not just throwing opinions out there) because of the World Cup Soccer claiming to be the biggest sporting event in the world. Their claims are dubious. ‘More countries are involved in FIFA than any other sporting organisation, including the IOC.’ Well, no. The numbers are exactly the same. Every country is a member. Neither organisation has officially banned any country from being a member. They might be barred from competing, but not from being a member. ‘More people watch the World Cup than any other event.’ Again, no. They have a higher total TV audience because the World Cup takes place over four weeks, whereas the Olympics over 2. In countries where TV ratings are recorded, World Cup finals are definitely amongst the most watched single sporting events in the world (but that title still goes to the Superbowls of the NFL) but across the board, more Olympic events are watched by greater numbers. ‘The World Cup involves the largest number of athletes of any sporting event.’ This is because they count all the qualifiers for the World Cup, those matches that determine who goes on to the big month-long party. Is that fair? Why not include all the Olympic qualifying events as well then? Or the Asian Cup, second only to Olympics in sheer numbers?
            So in order to make their sport seem more important than it really is, soccer puts out these dodgy figures. And, look, as far as individual sports goes, soccer is the most popular in the world. Yes, I agree. But popularity does not mean greatness. McDonalds is the most popular fast food outlet. Jacqueline Susann’s Valley Of The Dolls is the most popular novel by a female novelist ever. To paraphrase Penn Jillette: Popular sure doesn’t mean it’s any good.

International Test
New Zealand 59 def Australia 40
New Zealand 40 def by Australia 46
            And Australia wins the inaugural Constellation Cup.
Most netball news concerns the upcoming Commonwealth Games. There are not too many times when many netball playing countries come together to show their thing, and the Commonwealth Games is one time when this happens, so all the focus is one this event. But that’s for a little later on…

Other Sport
Rugby Union
South Africa 39 def by Australia 41
            I’d consider this an upset, and it puts Australia second above the South Africans in the Tri-Nations table.
US Open
As this is an Australian sports report, let me list the Australians doing well in the final Grand Slam event of the year:
            Samantha Stosur.
What? That can’t be right. We play tennis here. Australians have won Grand Slam events, singles and doubles. We’re really not that bad. Let me check again.
            Samantha Stosur.
            That’s it? I mean, seriously? Maybe another in doubles, but no Australian pairs. Just one girl representing her country. Yes, she’s good. But one? ONE?!
            How much money do we pay the tennis academies in Australia for this sort of lame-arse result? Too much, I’m reckoning.

Commonwealth Games
I’ve mentioned the Commonwealth Games in this report, so I thought I’d better share exactly what this is before it dominates everything about Australian sport.
            Okay, history time – here’s a bit of the dry history stuff.
            Basically, the Commonwealth Games are the Olympics for wannabes who cannot compete on the world stage on their own terms. Actually, that’s unfair, because Australia always punches above their weight at international sport and Great Britain are no slouches either. Even Canada wins things occasionally.
            No, the Comm Games is where countries in the Commonwealth of Nations compete every four years, between summer Olympics. The CoN, by the way, is all those countries who still find themselves inexplicably linked to England because they didn’t have the guts to do what the USA did and tell them to go f**k themselves. Some are completely independent of England (e.g. Canada), some still hold the Queen as head of state (e.g. Australia), and some are actually a part of Great Britain (e.g. Isle of Man). The event started in 1930 as the British Empire Games, some time after World War 2 they became the British Empire and Commonwealth Games, were the British Commonwealth Games in 1970, and boring old Commonwealth Games from 1978.
            For Australia, the Comm Games are very important for one reason and one reason only – we tend to win a lot. Sure, we have lots of athletes get involved, and they represent their country on the international stage and they have good memories for the rest of their lives, we know all that feel-good stuff. But winning is the only thing that matters in the world today, and when it comes to the Comm Games, in recent showings especially, we win a lot. In 2006 in Melbourne, our medal tally was: 84 gold, 69 silver, 69 bronze for a total of 222 medals. In 2002 in Manchester, we achieved 82-62-63 for a total of 207. In 1998 in Kuala Lumpur it was 82-61-57 for 200 in total.
            The sports are similar to the Olympics, but not all are shared. For example, rugby 7s, netball and squash are Comm Games sports. And lawn bowls. Cannot forget the lawn bowls. I mean, this sport tends to get almost as much coverage as the swimming in Australia. It’s bizarre, but it’s just something that makes the Comm Games all that more… well, different.
            This year the Games are on in the first fortnight of October, being held in Delhi in India. This in itself has caused some issues, as a few countries are considering not sending teams because of security threats. In Australia, the choice has been left to individual sporting bodies and athletes, much like the Moscow Olympics in 1980.
            And that’s the Games. You will hear a lot more about them when they start, and then they will be forgotten by all except those who had family members and friends compete. In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t mean that much. It’s not the Olympics, and there are very few sports where the very best in the world will be competing. But it is a feel-good time for those countries that cannot even qualify for the third level of Olympic competition.

And that’s the View through to September 6.

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