Letter to the Editor: Administering tough lessons to those who run sport

HEY THERE: Cavaliers first grade players say hello during a recent Orange District Cricket Association match at Sir Jack Brabham Park. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

HEY THERE: Cavaliers first grade players say hello during a recent Orange District Cricket Association match at Sir Jack Brabham Park. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

Why is sport dying?

For mine, the reason is simple: poor administration of players’ time, scheduling and money.

Some examples include cricket and golf, both of which need careful administration, as they can need relatively large amounts of time to train and play and, in some instances, travel to train and play.

A recent scheduling of the Central West District Pennants tournament had Wentworth and Duntryleague's top teams travel to Mudgee so as to be able to play on a 'neutral' course.

Over two hours travel each way on top of more than four hours playing. On a Sunday. Then think about associated petrol costs. Why not play the matches in Parkes, Cowra, Forbes or Bathurst?

Another instance is qualifying for any given golf club's championships, played on Sundays over 36 holes. Why, when on Saturdays we play 18 holes and the winner is determined via a countback?

A previous CEO of Golf Australia is on record saying that clubs need to seriously consider nine-hole competitions on Saturdays.

My experience with some business people is that they’d be interested in becoming regular golfers if they could “play nine” on a Saturday. But the old guard won't hear of that.

In Orange in 1984, there was 44 senior cricket teams. Now there's 21. Some play Friday night, then Saturday and then again on Sunday.

“We're playing in the Blue Mountains this Sunday, do you want to play? It's only two-and-a-half hours down and then back, plus 50 overs each way?” the selectors ask. Response: “nah, I need some rest.”

Why not play that game at Bathurst over, say, 35 or 40 overs for each side?

Some years back, Orange third grade was played all season as one-day games on synthetic pitches, while the finals were two-day matches on turf. Why, all of a sudden, does one need spikes?

The same happened this year with the under-16s competition. Synthetic all season, then dump the need and cost of spikes on players and families at finals time – relatively unannounced – just for a couple of games.

It’s just another cost. And two-day matches … why?

The above examples each add potential cost for players, most of whom are keen to play pennants golf or representative cricket.

But the constant drag on limited resources, I reckon, gets most to the point where they won't put up their hands to play, especially on a Sunday. So why not play some representative stuff on Saturdays?

As player numbers drop, what's the old methodology? Just put up fees to cover operating costs.

The response from would-be players is invariably: “nah, I don't like that. I'll either go to another club or sport or just give it away because I can't afford your fees and charges”.

As far as solutions to these problems go, some possibilities are listed above, but we urgently need some creative decision-making by people who will ensure player needs are put first, not tradition.

That philospohy is why the Big Bash League cricket is so popular.

If so-called administrators haven't noticed, the human body does need time to recover from work etc, apart from questionable playing schedules/times for their chosen sport.

PS: If we want our kids to be more involved in sport – as the big guys are saying it will help control obesity levels – methinks more attention to sports administration can help.

Why put young’uns through schooling and coaching only to experience poor administration at more senior levels?

On school physical education and sport related to obesity, well I think that's in need of attention, too.

But not here.

Mike Middleton​

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