Sportsmasnhip

NBA ratings take a dive post HK/China saga

Last October, Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey tweeted his support for the Hong Kong protesters. Little did he know that the Rockets, the NBA and several key basketball stars of the game bowed to China by slamming Morey and apologizing on his behalf.

Rolling over was no surprise for the league given the attempts to drive the game into that populous market to make lucrative sums. LeBron James stands to make up to $1bn from Nike by the time he is 64 thanks to the China market.

Unfortunately, fans at home seem displeased. If the lessons from the NFL kneeling drama weren’t evidence enough, the NBA has also seen ratings plummet so far. Could it be that fans only watch to escape the stresses of a large mortgage, family and work?

Variety noted,

Viewership across ESPN, TNT and NBA TV is down 15% year-to-year overall, according to Nielsen figures. TNT’s coverage is averaging 1.3 million viewers through 14 telecasts, down 21% versus last year’s comparable coverage, while on ESPN the picture isn’t much prettier. The Disney-owned network is down 19%, averaging 1.5 million viewers versus just under 1.9 million viewers at the same stage last year.

Yet more evidence of how getting woke makes you go broke.

Naturally the league has blamed it on the absence of key stars due to injury. Or maybe it is because paying customers are sick of being lectured to?!

Rugby Australia chokes on its own incompetence

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After exchanging a politically correct, vomit-inducing and nose-bleedingly insincere prepared statement drafted by professional media consultants -not lost on anyone – the fact remains that Rugby Australia (RA) is the loser in the Israel Folau saga. We can forget the original source of the dismissal and the rights and wrongs of it. If RA thought it had a proper case, the legal fees (which it claimed were worth saving and settling out of court) would have been way less than the $10m payout he was demanding. So much for supporting the very communities the RA plasters all over its website.

The outcome was the result of management incompetence in thinking that appearing woke trumped legal due process. In full knowledge that Folau had a $1.6mn war chest (courtesy of Christians, free speech advocates and rugby fans alike) to take up the case against his former employer, the board was forced to buckle and issue an apology to the former rugby star, which would never have been necessary if it had a smidgen of judgment in the beginning.

RA CEO Raelene Castle can laugh off “wildly inaccurate” speculation on the $8mn rumoured settlement but the fact is the board knows the exact amount. Israel and Maria Folau wouldn’t have been grinning like Cheshire cats were he to have signed away for less than his rescinded contract. It will be fascinating to see the composition of the 2019/20 reported figures that will be published in due course. Expect some accounting trickery to fudge it into the numbers.

Castle said a few months back that the franchise could weather paying out Izzy Folau’s $10m claim. Although CM is not sure that paying out $10m + costs – which would wipe out almost 2/3rds of the $18mn in cash on the balance sheet – is something a CEO should think is worth boasting about. What she has long needed to focus on is arresting the declining operating performance. Yet she stated emphatically that the RA won’t have to make changes to the budget. Maybe her lawyers pieced together a multi-year drawdown of the sum to be paid to smooth out the ultimate impact. 

The RA franchise is the laughing stock of the rugby world. So transparent is the lack of accountability, woeful internal coordination and deteriorating financial results that it requires nothing more than a drastic overhaul if the entity is to thrive.

Former coach Michael Cheika let loose that it was no secret he had no relationship with the CEO and a very poor one with Chairman Cameron Clyne. This coming from the very individual running by far the biggest RA franchise. Despite possessing by far the worst performance record of any Wallabies coach, management persevered with a man who didn’t have a leg to stand on but cast aspersions on the executive team.

Therein lies the problem. RA can push all of the woke causes (e.g. LGBTQI+, gender equality) it likes, but if the ultimate end customer derives no value from it, it is a fruitless exercise which can’t escape the scrutiny of the free market come time to pay bills.

Castle may believe that this was a commercial decision for the sake of providing certainty. Had she done the right thing from the start she could have avoided getting embroiled in a scandal that has exposed the poor governance within.

Isn’t it odd that the LGBT activists are now attacking the very institution that set out to promote them – RA. CM has never thought much of his tweets but the reaction to them has been so over the top. The faux outrage mob finds oppression in everything.

Castle should resign and if she won’t the board should fire her despite her defiance against the bleeding obvious – she is in over her head. Fans won’t return with the status quo.

Get woke, go broke.

The last time an Aussie captain folded to the whims of Warner…

Oh the irony. So critics want Paine removed as captain of the Aussie test side because they didn’t let David Warner go for a record. Is it up to the captain to indulge individuals at the expense of the team, which has a sole purpose to win? Remember the last time that an Australian test captain indulged David Warner? He was sacked for the ball tampering scandal because he buried his judgment and folded to his Vice-captain Warner in South Africa.

CM has zero time for the opener. A fantastic talent in his own right but such a dreadful role model.

Sadly this isn’t far off the truth in 2019

In the whacky world of trying to justify the ridiculous, this parody is a great stab at identity politics in sport…

Ben Stokes walks on water

Utterly amazing innings and thoroughly deserved. Ben Stokes played a 1-day innings with one wicket to spare. What a talent. Amazing game. On the edge of the seat stuff. One of the all time classic matches.

Stupidly, Australia wasted a review which ended costing them when it mattered but that’s the pressure of the game. A dropped catch and a fumbled run out. It doesn’t take away the 73 Stokes helped get for the last wicket. Australia had chances and failed to execute.

Arise, Sir Ben?

The magic of varied ability sports

Having been so touched at the Invictus Games last year, it is so nice to hear another story of a young boy, Joseph Tidd, missing a limb sharing a magical moment with a player, Carson Picket who has the same condition. USWNT would do well to study how true champions interact.

To be honest while one can appreciate the efforts of an Usain Bolt, Marlene Ottey or a Michael Phelps in the Olympics breaking new records, there is a mystical spell cast when you see people missing limbs, blindness or another condition, overcoming incredible odds to compete.

Coming first is great for the varied ability competitors but every time you will see winners stay back and encourage those yet to finish to get across the line. The energy that brings to the crowd and to the athletes is nothing short of mesmerizing.

Forget the chest bumping of the elite athletes doing it generally for themselves. If one intends to go to the 2020 Olympics, forget it. Buy tickets to the 2020 Paralympics instead because you will literally see the impossible happen right before your eyes. It is utterly uplifting.

Note in Australia there is a group called Heroes with Abilities which gets groups of people with varied abilities to play rugby league. Same sort of passion and you’ll see people play for the joys of it rather than the trappings that come from it.