Sad news. I’m sure we’re all feeling the credit crunch – you’re probably reconsidering buying that second gift for your loved one – but let’s think of the tragic Otago Nuggets for a moment. They won’t be playing in the NBL next year. Seems the financial crisis has hit Otago particularly hard, so much so that they couldn’t raise the requisite entry fee of a whopping $5,000 .
I’m sorry, what? That’s right: $5,000 . I know times are tough, but jeez, surely someone can fork that cash up. Not me… but someone. Even more shocking is that last year the Auckland Stars were initially disqualified from the playoffs for failing to pay the last installment of their entry fee. Installments? You can actually hire purchase to enter the NBL. It seems madness that this league makes absolutely no money whatsoever.
I harbour fond memories of watching the mid 90’s Canterbury Rams. Every Saturday Chris Tupu, Kenny Perkins and Ralph Latimore battled like champions in the cold and unforgiving Cowles stadium. These men were giants, playing out epic battles on a regular basis. I couldn’t have been more excited to watch. Didn’t matter that they probably weren’t that great – we had nothing to compare them to. We didn’t have access to NBA games back then, and in Christchurch it was my first experience of actually seeing real American basketball players (those mysterious beings who arrived on our shores with greater jumping ability and some vague connection to “almost making it”). We certainly didn’t have a team of the Breakers calibre playing in any Australian league. But still, it was a critical formation in my sporting life. It’s almost a shame that’s not there now for New Zealand youngsters. Every kid should go watch a Breakers game. Mandatory.
On another note, it will be interesting to see how the financial markets will hit other, traditionally more lucrative, sporting teams. David Beckham’s recent trip here was grossly undersold, even with two-for-one tickets on offer. I’m sure the combination of Christmas and tighter wallets had a part to pay. Rugby better make damn sure games are attractive next season.
But again, spare a thought (or some change) for the Otago Nuggets. A great shame – you know Mark “Sparky” Dickell got his start for them.