On Sunday I made a last minute decision to pass on using my Warriors season ticket, for a variety of reasons which really aren’t worth talking about here. When the weather closed in as the afternoon moved toward evening, and the tempterature gauge in my car plunged down to 6 degrees, and rain turned to hail – all these factors made me feel pretty smug. I got a text from fellow season ticket holder Julian early in the game complaining about the bitter cold, and I recalled what the great Brendan Telfer (come back to the radio Telf! It’s all morons without you!) said about Mt Smart: that it felt roughly 10 degrees colder than anywhere else in Auckland.
With all these self-congratulatory sensations running through me I sat down to watch the game, and after the first 20 minutes of dour, hardscrabble rugby league there was little to suggest that I’d made a bad call. The Warriors looked better than they had in a few weeks, sure, but you got the feeling that was more due to the opposition loathing the conditions than any heroics on our part. Then one of Marshall’s kicks headed the way of debutant winger Kevin Locke, and all that changed. Continue reading
What’s going on with this Warriors side? For years the Auckland-based franchise has been one of the most flamboyant in the NRL, sparky, unpredictable, but capable of going on ferocious try-scoring rampages which meant games were in play for longer than they should have been. It’s always been tough being a Warriors fan, simply because their inconsistency has historically sat somewhere between maddening and psychotic. But this season is shaping up far more predictably, and not in a good way.
The team currently sits tenth on the ladder, only one point outside the eight, for sure, but it seems a fair position a third of the way through the season based on the team’s performance, and while it’s a position we’re used to, the manner we’ve achieved it is wholly unfamiliar. The team’s averaging a shade under 18 points a game thus far this year, down from 21 in ’08 and and 25 in ’07. The last three weeks we’ve averaged just 14, and it feels like the entire attacking impetus of the team has dissipated.
When you’ve got players like Vatuvei, Jones, McKinnon, Hohaia and Ropati in your squad you should be able to score tries. But there’s an uncertainty about the Warriors attack at the moment which is brand new for ’09. Similarly, there’s an imprecision to the kicking game, a sense that we’re kicking because it’s the fifth tackle, and it’s the thing to do. But that we don’t really have a plan, or if we do, any faith in it. Continue reading
Due to an act of vandalism which has rendered my home literally powerless and hamstrung my already limping productivity (not to mention the recent spate of depressing DeadBall headlines), I’ve found myself forced somewhat willingly to place the following post instead of the photo essay from Saturday’s Warriors game. Like a good 80’s film, the clips below contain within a delightfully watchable mix of naivety and life-affirming charm. Both are triumphant, and both speak of the potential that sport (whether amateur or professional) has to energise the spirit of it’s participants, as well as it’s audience.
This isn’t exactly “T-Mac Scores 13 Points in 33 Seconds” material, but hey, T-Mac hasn’t exactly been up to much lately, so let’s not beat up on a bunch of 7th graders just because they have a better free throw percentage than me. That’s right, you’re about to watch 7th graders play basketball – so without further ado, I present the students of Buffalo Grove and Elk Grove:
It’s t-27 minutes until the start of The Halberg Awards, the venerable sporting institution which has seen off the ultra-crap People’s Choice Awards and according to one press release, turned the Vector Arena into ‘Auckland’s largest dining room!’ Which you must admit would almost border on mildly interesting if you were at a doctor’s waiting room and they only had dated back issues of NZ Home & Garden to distract you.
Anyway, just while we’re filling in time, here’s a picture of Murray Halberg, the man who started at all, and one of the original gangstas of New Zealand’s killer athletics era. There’s some talk that Vili’s gold will lead to a wave of nostalgia for those glory days and get her the overall Halberg, but let’s just state for the permanent record that DeadBall (or at least Duncan. Dave is here but I’ve not asked him) is opposed to any such award. As well as she did, the Brickyard is history, and anything other than a Scott Dixon Supreme Award will PISS. ME. OFF.
One final thing before we get into the awards proper: I do think it’s super cool that there’s a Supreme Award winner. They don’t do that anywhere, not the Oscars, Crufts or the VMAs… That’s all of them right? Actually they do in Crufts, but I’m pretty sure they don’t do that very often at other awards ceremonies, and it’s definitely cool. Continue reading
Hair is heaven’s water flowing eerily over us
– Bill Knott
A big year for hair in sports, due in large part to the efforts of one man who took it all on his shoulders. Literally.
Back in March of 2002, a journalist for the University of Wisconsin’s campus paper The Daily Cardinal wrote this about Kirk Penney:
“Kirk Penney looks to me like the kind of guy who goes in to get his hair cut every two or three weeks. He looks like the kind of guy who puts at least some time into his hair every morning and I think anyone who does that harbors some feelings of insecurity.”
The article is interesting as it paints Penney as an athlete who maintained his hairstyle with strict and unwavering discipline. In 2002, he sported what could be described as an American-style crew(esque) cut, short back & sides with a little room to manoeuvre on top – classic, sharp, focused, with military undertones.
So as the 2008 NBL season began, it was a surprise (a sexy surprise) to see that Kirk Penney had unleashed the beast in the off-season, allowing his hair to express itself as freely on the scalp as Kirk does on the hardwood. Penney appeared to be giving no firm directive to his hair – he was saying to the hair “you go out there and play your natural game. I have faith in you, I know you will make the right play”. Continue reading
The DomPost reports today that the research of a Wellington based analysis firm has concluded that salary caps no difference in the competitiveness of professional sports competitions.
The study followed teams from the past five seasons and looked at their mobility within the league. If teams have a greater ability to move up (or down) the ranks and contest for championships (or wooden spoons), the code is rated higher in competitiveness.
Interestingly, the stufy found that Rugby Union competitions were some of the least competetive. The NZRU is yet to comment.
The study suggests that rather than salary caps, the best way to make a competition more competitvive is a form of revenue sharing where a precentage of ticket sales gets pooled and then redistributed to all teams regardless of the size of their market. This, it follows, helps teams with a small population base more than limiting how much money teams from larger markets can spend.
Here’s how they ranked in terms of competitiveness (salary caps are italicized): Continue reading