Let the Games bloody well end!

Thank God the Commonwealth Games are almost over. I can easily avoid Nine’s tedious TV coverage, because I rarely watch that channel’s offerings anyway. But having the local ABC radio station dominated by frenetic commentary about third rate sporting events is extremely irritating.

I see John Quiggin has a post about the silliness of the walking events. But what about synchronised swimming, surely the most idiotic “sport” ever invented? And what about the silliness of the entire Games? I mean, the heavyweight boxing was just won by an Aussie named after a Hollywood film star, who managed to flog an Indian who looked almost as unfit as me (which is saying something). What could possibly be the point of a Games where both Australia and Great Britain have won more than four times the gold medals they managed to win at the last Olympics, simply because no other significant sporting nations are actually members of the Commonwealth? In fact at the Commonwealth Games Britain doesn’t even compete as a nation; it splits itself up into England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, presumably to enhance the illusion that there are actually a few competitive countries there. Maybe next time we could enter separate teams for each of the Australian states.

In fact you can mount a strong argument that the only event with a truly world class field has been the Refugee Runner Stakes. In that event, as at Manchester, it’s been Gold! Gold! Gold! for Sierra Leone, with Bangladesh and Tanzania dead-heating for bronze. The only performance that even went close was John Howard’s straight-faced claim that the Melbourne Commonwealth Games was better than the Sydney Olympics!! Is there no lie this man won’t tell for a couple of votes?

Update – I should never have attempted a snarky piece about the Commonwealth Games. No-one could compete with this gloriously malevolent post from The Hack at Spin Starts Here.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Rex
Rex
15 years ago

Bewdiful!

whyisitso
whyisitso
15 years ago

“Maybe next time we could enter separate teams for each of the Australian states”

Then you’d be complaining about the overbearing nature of NSW’s relationship with Tasmania (or perhaps with NT if they competed as a “State”. I notice though that Norfolk Island competed separately. The UK also had Jersey and Isle of Man as separate teams by the way. Fragmentation is obviously the way to go. Watch out for Quebec competing separately from Canada in a future CG.

The incident with Craig Mottram being brought down tonight in the 1500m brought back memories of Ron Clarke coming down during John Landy’s attempt at the four minute mile in the Australian Championships in Melbourne in 1956 and Landy acting the perfect sportsman he always was when he went back to see if he was OK

Actlually I found many of the events very watchable and enjoyable. Certainly better than watching Australia play Zimbabwe at cricket.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
15 years ago

I know you’re reliant on the NT News Ken but here’s what Howard actually said:

“Melbourne does these things better in my view than any other city because there is a sense of community cohesion and a common attitude and reaction in Melbourne like no other city, Sydney’s very different. To be fair to them the Olympic Games were absolutely fantastic, but Sydney is a more disaggregated city than Melbourne.

In short, the MCG is closer to the CBD than Homebush and the place is a relatively compact, grid-based,
duck-loving, large country town with efficient, winged tram transport services. Given the fact that he received heroic cheers from the Opening Ceremony crowd while Steve Bracks rated but a desultory handclap. You can’t blame the the little bloke for being on a roll.

But you’re spot on about the whole Comgames “watching privileged whities, with billion dollar sports funding, patronise lucky darkies” thing, (after the fashion of Vivien Leigh and Butterfly McQueen in Gone With The Wind) – ” I doan know nuthin ’bout winnin’ gold medals Miz Scarlett.

Maybe the next ones could be held in Sierra Leone? In fact, why doesn’t Jana move there in the interim?

Maxwell Smart
Maxwell Smart
15 years ago

Hi Ken, long time reader, first time poster.
The Americans should be invited back into the Commonwealth. That should lift the standard.
And don’t pick on John Howard.

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
15 years ago

Then there’s Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man the latter two of which I read in Wikipedia are “not part of the UK, nor the European Union, but is rather a separate possession of the Crown”.

So there you go.

whyisitso
whyisitso
15 years ago

It’s a furphy comparing the ComGames with the Olympics. We dominate the former of course, but even in the Olympics Australia’s results are well above our weight per capita.

It’s really just a preliminary to getting into real shape for Beijing. We do seem to have a lot of work to do in Men’s swimming, as there’s no guarantee Thorpe will figure much in them. What I’ve enjoyed was seeing the diversity of sports in which Australia is getting competitive – maybe one of the benefits of our immigration policies.

There’s been a lot of cringe ‘ashamed of being Australian’ in the media because we’re dominating so much. Well I don’t mind grinding ’em in the dust. Why not. It makes up just a little for being such doormats in rugby lately.

Gummo Trotsky
15 years ago

Well above our weight per capita? How about in relation to percentage of GDP spent on sports, or GDP full stop? Where would we rank then?

I’m with Ken on the Refugee Runner Stakes (or the International Hide & Seek if you prefer) – those Sierra Leone dudes are truly world class.

Cameron Riley
15 years ago

On the idea of entering separate states; my grandfather used to tell all that would listen that Australian cricket is strong when NSW cricket is strong, and the same for Rugby League. If there were too many Westralians (especially if they weren’t fast bowlers) or too many Victorians in the Australian team he would shake his head in expectation of a poor year.

We could put that hypothesis to the test in the Commonwealth Games if the states enter separately.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
15 years ago

Sierra Leone are on a roll.
They were champs back at Manchester and the poms still can’t find them.

Why is sport the only thing which HECS is not applicable?

david tiley
15 years ago

Thanks Ken – I knew you’d get round to it, and I’ve got a list like that as well.

And Jen – how come so quiet?

The games are going on outside my front door as I speak, and I’ve grown fond of the sheer transformation of my daily ratlike routines as a result.

It’s not the games per se that are the problem, its the bloody trash attitudes of Channel Nine, endlessly carrying on about gold in the massed tiddlywinks breathholding or some such. It’s lazy of them, and just following Oz winners is so much cheaper than going out and getting stories from other countries about their athletic stories.

You know, all those victories we ignore, not to mention the PBs and those heartwarming “I walked off the high veldt and dodged lion and genocidal terrorists and I ran like the wind in Melbourne and I did fine until that bastard made me wear a pair of shoes..” stories.

In about twenty years when Australia suddenly has a very skinny bunch of dark coloured runners, we might find out what the Sierra Leone team is actually doing at the moment.

Or maybe they just went to a supermarket and got bewildered because the manager was still alive and there was no ammunition strewn across the floor and no-one had left the Minister of Education tied up in the cold store. They could have been led away to Footscray by some hospitable Somali-Australians who understand exactly the kind of culture shock they have been living through.

It’s called peace.

trackback

[…] The ABC has done pretty well, at least to Melbourne ears (though Ken at Troppo had a different experience). We could always fall back on Radio National when we got sick of them hopping around like a bunch of young fleas on a very juicy dog, and they always sounded humane and vaguely sensible. A much better representation of us as a nation than the drongos that Channel Nine was painting us to be. […]

whyisitso
whyisitso
15 years ago

“They could have been led away to Footscray”

Oh no, not Footiscray – they’ll be screaming to go back to Sierra Leone.

Phil
15 years ago

If they can have Jersey and Guernsey and other parts that are “not part of the UK”, can we have the bits of Australai that are no longer part of Australia, like Christmas Island?

Tony.T
15 years ago

Hey, what the?!? Since when did I become moderate right! Sack the bosses! Free the reffos! Yay the Yarts! Bolt = Evil.

See! – hard core.

trackback

[…] The ABC has done pretty well, at least to Melbourne ears (though Ken at Troppo had a different experience). We could always fall back on Radio National when we got sick of our local radio announcers hopping around like a bunch of young fleas on a very juicy dog, and they always sounded humane and vaguely sensible. A much better representation of us as a nation than the drongos that Channel Nine was painting us to be. […]

whyisitso
whyisitso
15 years ago

“Well above our weight per capita? How about in relation to percentage of GDP spent on sports, or GDP full stop? Where would we rank then?”

Ah the search for negatives never stops does it? Anything to pour shit on Australia. Now that the Games are over (the Closing ceremony is about to start) I suppose we can expect the usual spate of letters in the SMH starting “I’m ashamed to be an Australian…”

via collins
via collins
15 years ago

Strewth whyisitso, how in the hell do you draw that conclusion? Gold medal for Straw Man Creation.

I share David’s thoughts re: the bits of Channel 9 coverage, and the magical transformation of Melbourne for a little bit. I don’t have a clue who these medals winners actually are, I’m enjoying the whole experience. I cheered like billy-oh for the Australians winning the cycling road race tonight, but cheered equally for the Kenyan who came near last, but achieved way above anyone in his country has before. And the huge crowd were enjoying both equally.

Therein lies a fantastic story which as David correctly points out will never be told by 9 due to either a) a complete lack of imagination, or b) a direction to cover enthusiastically and relentlessly Australians at the lack of real narratives that are occurring in the event, and in the sports and tales behind them.

As an Australian living in the Howard years, I seek as much joy as I can in tales of the other, and of my own countrypeople. What shames me is the complete lack of imagination, and curiosity in my leaders, and the gatekeepers of the mainstream media.

Looking for negatives? Ashamed of being Australian? Not on your nelly. I feel as happy about being Australian as I do everyday. But I wouldn’t mind seeing the canvas expanded, coloured, perhaps a dash more mushy multi-culturalism? 25,000 people digging the Bollywood sounds at the Bowl last night was a great start!

Mark Upcher
Mark Upcher
15 years ago

Shouldn’t Rythmic Gymnastics be consigned to the closing ceremony?

Francis Xavier Holden
15 years ago

TonyT – Calm down – Parish hasn’t got a category for outright pricks yet.

Stephen Bounds
15 years ago

I know no-one cares, but from the Commonwealth Games Federation constitution:

“In the Commonwealth Games there is no scoring by countries. A roll of honour of the names of the first 6 competitors (and not less than 4) in each event shall be compiled by the OC, and shall be delivered to the Federation.”

It’s not bloody about how well countries do relative to each other! The medal tally is a media invention, pure and simple. If you think about each gold medal as representing an Australian who is not only the best in the country, but the best of over 70 countries — it’s still an achievement that those athletes can be justly proud of.

For those who want to argue that the medal tally should be used to judge our “success” in these Games, may I humbly refer you to the Wikipedia article discussing how to make your country look best: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Medalstats.

Only David appears to have thought about the idea that these Games, like the Olympics, are meant to be about individual excellence rather than one country grinding another’s nose into the dirt. Settling old scores should be left to team sports like cricket, rugby and soccer ;-)

david tiley
15 years ago

The penguins on Macquarie Island would be dead set winners for the synchronised swimming, specially if the routines had to contain a backwards leap onto the side of the pool.

Personally I think all the swimming events should take place in the presence of marine carnivores. But that is just a matter of taste. Or tastiness, if they are not fast enough.

observa
observa
15 years ago

Well I think all future Commonwealth Games should be rotated among the Aussie states ad in finitum because it’s triffic for the economy and we do it best and we win lots of gold and it’ll piss off the Kiwis and besides South Oz needs some fit young immigrants to pick grapes and stuff…..

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
15 years ago

can someone tell me why Cyprus and Sierra Leone are at the games.

They haven’t caught the naughty SL in Manchester yet.
Will they have better luck in Melbourne?

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
15 years ago

so your saying they are camerooned here!

Gummo Trotsky
15 years ago

The 2010 New Dehli Hide and Seek event is going to be a real corker. From the Indian sub-continent, contestants will be able to get up into the whole of the Eurasian landmass, or take their chances on the South-East Asia/Indonesia route to Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!

Tony.T
15 years ago

Thank you, FX, I love you, too.

Guido
15 years ago

I have a sneaking suspicion that Canada and the UK countries are not that fussed about the CG as we are. I think that many athletes have not bothered to come. I believe that Canada did not send a basketball team.

However these Games serve a purpose and they are an important reason why Australia is punching way above its weight during the Olympics. The CG offer many athletes a taste for the real thing two years later. I am sure that there are many potential Olympic medalists that will find the experience of the games invaluable. It also offers training and coaching staff an opportunity to fix any problems that were shown up. For instance the men swimming team has not performed to expectations and it is opportunities such as the CG that can show any deficiency.

I think that there are ways to make things better and I would pursue two strategies in order to make the CG more relevant:

1) Give the games to ’emerging countries’. If I am correct most of the CG have been shared between the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. That was because until recently they were the only countries affluent enough to host the games. However many Commonwealth countries have now reached a level of affluence that they could also afford them. Kuala Lumpur (I think was 1998?) was an example and now New Delhi in 2010 is another. Maybe Singapore could host them and South Africa as well. This would make the Games more interesting culturally, and it would give the opportunity for these countries who have now achieved an advanced economy to do something that was the prerogative of ‘old wealthy nations’.

2) The other is to continue to have sports that are primarily played in the Commonwealth. While we can argue that the field in sports like track and field, swimming, basketball was not to a world level, sports such as netball, bowls and squash are. For instance there is so much insignificant cricket played around the world with a plethora of one day matches and now this 20/20 stuff, why not have cricket at the CG when all the countries that play it are members of the Commonwealth? Cricket is the Commonwealth game per excellence.

I would also introduce foootball (soccer). Here he goes again you may say, soccer raises its head again. But seriously, look at basketball which has been included in the CG this time. Apart from being invented by a Canadian, it cannot be said is much of a ‘Commonwealth’ sport being played mainly in the USA and continental Europe. Soccer is more of a ‘Commonwealth’ sport. I think a tournament with England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Nigeria, Australia, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and South Africa, could be a quite good one. Of course it could not be with senior players. But at a junior level, like in the Olympics it could work. It would give many players invaluable experience and Scotland and England can play for Gold, something that they can’t do in the Olympics as the English, Scottish, Welsh and Norther Irish federations don’t want to amalgamate their teams for the Olympics and therefore there has never been a UK Olympic football team (as far as I know). But this would not be a problem in the CG as these nations compete separately.