Sports Fan Poll: Player Behaviour and Punishment

Yesterday, Queensland Reds player Karmichael Hunt pleaded guilty to the possession an illegal drug and was punished both under the criminal justice system and by the Queensland Reds.  The punishment received by Hunt from the Reds has been widely debated.  Interestingly, the views of among my circle of family and friends are completely divergent from those of people that I follow on social media.  On the one hand there is a feeling that the punishment from the Reds is not on all fours with community standards whilst on the other there is a feeling that punishment is about right, if not a little harsh.

I have no interest in rehashing that debate here.  Regular readers will know my views.

What I am interested in discussing though is this quote from Queensland Reds CEO (in his letter to Reds Members sent by email):

“In determining our course of action, you have my assurance that we will always regard, as our primary concern, the long-term interests of the game, our Members, fans, partners and stakeholders.  However, the welfare of our players is paramount.” (emphasis added)

The statement is internally self defeating in the sense that it commences with a declaration of primacy that it then reverses in the very next sentence.  Whilst I am in violent agreement that player welfare is an important aspect of the management of players by any sport club, I struggle with the notion that the interests of player welfare trump that which is in the best interests of the sporting code or those who fund the game through their membership, payment for tickets and sponsorship.

I am left to ponder:

  1.  Whether the manner in which the Queensland Reds have dealt with Karmichael Hunt represents a new paradigm for dealing with player behaviour or whether the interests of code, the club, the members, the fans and the sponsors have always been secondary and I have just missed it in the punishment phases of the other scandals that have befouled sport in this country.
  2. How long will it be before a player gets into trouble again but is not punished in a fashion that has his (or her) welfare as the paramount focus and appeals his punishment.  Will the Carmichael “doctrine” become an appealable (litigious) point for a player at some point in the future?

I am, of course, aware that often in these matters I do not possess the popular view point so I thought I would open this question up to the readers for a poll the results of which I will publish in a week’s time on this blog.

The poll question is this:

I look forward to seeing how the results of this poll come out in a week’s time.


NFL Championship Games Selections

The Super Bowl is not far away but before then there are two cracking games tomorrow for the NFC and AFC Championships.

NFC Championship Game

This fixture pits the Seattle Seahawks against the Green Bay Packers. The Seahawks are the reigning Super Bowl Champions and the prohibitive favourites in this game. The Packers are hoping their hobbled QB Aaron Rodgers can get through the game. Neither team looks like they have a lot of points in them so I am keen to take the unders on the total game score in this one.

Tip: Total game score less than 46.50 points.

AFC Championship Game

In the AFC the New England Patriots host the Indianapolis Colts. The young bull, Andrew Luck, faces the old bull, Tom Brady, and a mouthwatering match up of two fantastic quarterbacks. The Patriots are playing in their sixth straight play off series and have the experience and the home crowd behind them which makes me think they will best the young Colts here and end up winning by at least a touchdown.

Tip: New England Patriots to cover the line (-7 points) against the Indianapolis Colts.

If you put these two tips together and win your return will be $3.65.

As always:

1. Please gamble responsibly.
2. Whilst all care is taken with these tips no responsibility vests for losses incurred.

Good luck and good punting!

Horse Racing: 5 questions for the anti-racing lobby (and associated keyboard warriors / bandwagoners)

Yesterday the Melbourne Cup was run and won at Flemington.  In the aftermath of the race two horses sadly passed away.  In case you missed the news:

  • Admire Rakti collapsed after the race in his stall and died on course.
  • Araldo was spooked by a spectator on the way back to the mounting yard, suffered multiple leg fractures and had to be euthanized at the Werribee Vet clinic.

The death of these horses is a stomach wrenching event that no true fan of the sport of horse racing will consider with anything other than sadness.

Unfortunately, and not surprisingly, the loss of the horses has been used as a launching pad for an assault on the sport of horse racing by both the protest lobby that is a constant in the horse racing industry and the usual key board warriors looking for 30 seconds of social media fame.

Let me be clear here: I am a horse racing fan.  I have been since my grandfather Col first talked to me about racing as we listened the scratching report on a Saturday morning when I was a 10 year old.

Even if I was not such a fan though I would be absolutely infuriated by the response from those with everything gain but no investment in the industry taking advantage of the death of these two horses.  To those taking said advantage I want to ask 5 questions:

  1. Do you concede that the death of Araldo, if fault is to be vested for the horse’s death, rests with the idiot waving a large flag at the horses and the lax security staff that allowed the flag to be in the race course? Could you explain to me how that conduct is the fault of the horse racing industry?
  2. Thoroughbred horses are bred for the principal purpose of racing under a saddle.  In addition to racing, Thoroughbreds compete in eventing, show jumping and dressage at the highest levels of international competition, including the Olympics. They are also used as show hunters, steeplechasers, and in western riding speed events such as barrel racing. Do you intend also to seek a ban of EVERY event a thoroughbred horse competes in?
  3. Do you also protest, or intend to protest, injuries and fatalities that befall other types of horses such as injuries and fatalities that occur in farming? By extension do you intend to seek a ban of horses being used in working contexts? Horses are beautiful animals but they are also fragile and injuries happen to them in many contexts outside of horse racing.
  4. Do you also protest, or intend to protest, the slaughter of animals bred to provide meat and other products humans eat and drink? If you decry the death of an animal bred to race surely you must also protest the death of an animal bred for meat?
  5. There are no definitive statistics as to the number of humans who have died playing sport in 2014.  You maintain statistics for the number of deaths of thoroughbred horses so I assume you have access to the same statistics for humans? Do you intend to protest and seek a ban of every sport in which a human died in 2014?

I am advocate for debate in every form but I am an even stronger advocate for a balanced debate.  When the anti-racing lobby and their hangers on can answer the questions above cogently then I will listen to their arguments: until then their approach smacks of sensationalism as best and woeful opportunism at worst.

The fact is that yesterday two horses, bred to race, died at a horse racing carnival, one as a result of being spooked by an alleged fan of horse racing.  As a fan of horse racing I remain gutted at the loss of these horses and my condolences go out to the horses’ connections.  Your loss should be honoured rather than used as a pulpit.

Since when did calling a referee a cheat become “trivial”?

During the 60th minute of the Melbourne Storm v Parramatta Eels NRL game yesterday, Chris Sandow, the Parramatta Eels halfback, posed the following question to referee Ben Cummins:

“How much are they paying you?”

Sandow was rightly sin-binned.  Astonishingly, the coach of the Parramatta Eels has defended Sandow as follows:

“It was pretty trivial and we need to grow up a little bit and get on with refereeing the game.”

In one statement Arthur has not only called branding the refereeing a cheat but sought to allude that the blame for the sin-binning rested with the referee.

I have written before on this blog about the diminution in respect for the referee / umpire’s decision across a wide range of sports but the events of the weekend really take the metaphorical cake for me.

I know I come from an old school where the word of the referee was sacrosanct and the decisions of a referee of any game were to be respected and not complained about but calling the referee a cheat straight to his face is surely something, whether you are from an old or new school of thought, that MUST be eradicated from the game rather than lionised.

Sandow’s offence was bad enough but the support of him by his coach is, frankly, conduct not becoming of any coach let alone an NRL coach.

The media, too, has not helped.  References to “cheeky” Chris Sandow in by-lines and lead in paragraphs does the gravity of this appalling conduct no favours.

Referees are under scrutiny now than they ever have been before.  At the same time the respect for match officials is at an all time low.  The regular screaming at referees about innocuous decisions by the likes of Gallen and Bird has become acceptable it would seem.  I sincerely hope that conduct like Sandow, and his coach, does not become the next type of conduct that is acceptable.

Shumpty’s Punt: A Holiday Multi

Here is my long weekend sports multi for this Easter long weekend:

Leg 1: Hurricanes to cover the line (-3.5 points) against the Blues in Super Rugby.

Leg 2: Western Force to defeat the Rebels in Super Rugby.

Leg 3: Newcastle Knights to cover the line (-2.0 points) against the Brisbane Broncos in the NRL.

Leg 4: Sydney Roosters to cover the line (-7.5 points) against the Cronulla Sharks in the NRL.

Leg 5: Tottenham to defeat Fulham in the EPL.

Leg 6: Gold Coast Sun to defeat the Melbourne Demons by less than 40 points in the AFL.

Leg 7: Liverpool to defeat Norwich in the EPL.

This multi will pay around the $60 mark for every dollar invested.

As always:

  • Please gamble responsibly.
  • Whilst all care is taken with the tips on this blog, no responsibility is taken for losses.

Sport free weekend in Brisbane: a massive opportunity missed!

As we approach four days away from our respective places of work, thoughts obviously turn to just what to do over this break. If you are in Brisbane and you are a fan of any of the national sporting codes you are likely to be disappointed because none of said codes have any games scheduled for Brisbane (or the Gold Coast) this weekend.

That’s right, and I will repeat it, none of the NRL, AFL, A-league or Super Rugby have games scheduled this weekend in Brisbane or South East Queensland. I concede that I am ignoring the Brisbane Lions game scheduled for tonight but I am defining the weekend for this purpose as starting on Friday morning and ending on Monday night.

When I first realized this I thought to myself that I must have misread my sports diary. However, a further examination of the schedules of the teams in each code bore out that I had not made a mistake and there is to be no national code sport in South East Queensland this weekend. In the NRL the Titans are in Penrith and the Broncos in Newcastle. In the A-league the Roar have the week off. In the AFL the Lions game will be over before the weekend starts and the Suns are playing in Melbourne. In Super Rugby the Reds have a bye.

This is just nuts! Set aside for the moment my love sport and think about the economics of a decision by the codes not to play in South East Queensland this weekend. The Broncos and the Reds consistently procure crowds that double their southern counterparts. Both have massive membership bases and both are seeking to get more kids to their games. This weekend presented a massive opportunity for both or either to get more people through the turnstiles given the holidays on Friday and Monday and it being the end of school holidays. It is hard to quantify but I am sure that both the NRL and Super Rugby will have weeks this week where they really would have benefited from the crowd numbers a Brisbane game brings.

It makes absolutely no sense to me to play a Good Friday game in Newcastle where the crowd will be around 15,000 when the Broncos probably would have sold out Lang Park, or at least doubled that crowd number. The Reds have been consistently getting over 25,000 to games but this weekend they get nothing. I guess smarter people than me can see the method in this madness.

One final point: obviously this lack of play in the national codes in Brisbane presents an opportunity for their state based counterparts to really push their respective games. Have you seen, heard or been sent one advertisement for a QRL or Premier Rugby game this weekend? I know I haven’t and I am on mailing lists that I am sure that I would have received something from if any such campaign of seeking heightened exposure was run. This is similarly nuts and represents another lost opportunity for the codes in Queensland.

Of course, there is a ton of sport on TV this weekend and that is where I will do the bulk of my viewing. Still, I can only be left to lament a massive lost opportunity for the national codes this Easter long weekend.