April 17 marked 100 days until the beginning of the 30th Olympic Games in London. There is a duality that emerges as a major sporting event arrives. On a purely sporting level, excitement levels rise at the prospect of the best in the world competing against each other but at the same time the impending social and economic disaster becomes clearer in the public’s mind, resulting in mixed feelings. In the case of London, the duality is heightened by the fact that lavish spending on the games will be occurring at a time when savage austerity measures have been imposed on people by the Conservative- Liberal Democratic government.
It is a fair bet to say that when people think of the Illawarra they think of two things: Rugby League and the steelworks. Up until 2002 the steelworks was owned by BHP, until its “spin off” Bluescope steel took over. Illawarra rugby league has produced such legendary figures as Graeme Langlands, Bob Fulton, Steve Roach and Craig Young.
So, when it was announced that Illawarra Coal (owned by BHP Bilition) would be sponsoring Illawarra Rugby League to the tune of Aus $450,000 over three years, on one level, it makes sense; the most prominent company in Illawarra’s history sponsoring the most prominent sporting code.
The Australian team is now the one being called a joke. Yet when given the chance by Channel Nine, Australians voted for Australian player David Warner to be a man of the match, even though New Zealand won.
This is the duality of being a supporter of the Australian cricket team. After being the dominant team for so long, Australia is now only middle of the road. The dominance, though, remains fresh in the mind of fans and these expectations are translated onto the current team. This may seem harmless but it has expressed itself in a particular form of viciousness against one individual, Phil Hughes.
Fans of sport are used to advertising. A lot of advertising. In a typical cricket match there is advertising in between overs and during the lunch break; advertisements all around the ground, in the outfield, on the stumps, on the players shirts; even in the naming of a series (it is not a test match, it is a Vodafone test match) and most absurdly, during the drinks break people on Segways come out with giant inflatable drink bottles on their back.
Mostly these are accepted as something that is a part of the “modern game”, except for the use of Segways which is just too plain ludicrous for anyone to accept. However, mumours of discontent began when people turned on to watch the cricket from Hobart yesterday and found that the ground is no longer known as the Bellerive Oval but rather the Blundstone Arena.
If New Zealand were hoping to make up for their comprehensive defeat to Australia last week, the early signs were ominous. Firstly, New Zealand’s best batsmen in the first match and consistent off spinner, Daniel Vettori, had to pull out after aggravating an already existing hamstring injury during the warm up. He was replaced by left-arm paceman, Trent Boult, who would be making his test debut.
Secondly, on a pitch as green as kryptonite, New Zealand lost the toss and were asked to bat. The disappointment of New Zealand’s captain, Ross Taylor, was palpable.
Recently, the right-wing media made much of the increase in working days lost due to strike action. The Australian reported “employers declared that new figures showing there were 101,300 working days lost to strikes in the September quarter – the highest since June 2004 – represented a “huge wake-up call” for the government.”
The wake-up call being, of course, that the government must implement tougher anti-union and anti-worker laws than already exist. Well, the reactionaries may be horrified to hear that more working days will be lost, if Australian football players are forced to go on strike
Julia Gillard described this weekend’s Labor party national conference as “full of open, passionate & honest debates. I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved.”
The first part of this statement is simply not believable, the results of different motions were reported in papers before they happened, but the second part is absolutely believable. She deserves to be proud, as the national conference seems to be a victory for Gillard and almost exclusively a defeat for progressives.
On same-sex marriage, it is inevitable that there is a whole lot of confusion about what to think about the result at the conference. That is because the result was confused.