Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: A better thing to believe in

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  • Katita,

    They are an extraordinary team not only because they win nearly all the time, but because of the way they play the game.

    This seems to be true of our NZ Cricket Team of late (the way they play if not the winning).
    Professional sport is business but I think what sets us apart is how we choose to engage.
    Maybe John Key grew up wanting to be an All Black and now he finds himself in a position to force his way into the inner circle? I don't think he understands the harder he tries to be one of the boys the more he's on the outside.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 67 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Attachment

    Can we run a Turing Test on this unit...?

    Seconded.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1436 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to andin,

    I kid myself it might be groovy if two million yrs in the future our descendants are around to watch as this galaxy merges with the Andromeda galaxy.

    I think that's pegged for more like 4 billion years, so if we're still in this hood we probably won't want to be relying on our sun for much, since it will be turning into a red giant by then.

    But yes, it would be groovy if we could make it to the 2 million year mark. I doubt we'd be in anything like our current form, though.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Danielle,

    An interesting fact: Test matches used to have no time limit, and so could continue indefinitely. The last such match was between England and South Africa in 1939, and had eventually to be abandoned due to imminent war in Europe.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to Danielle,

    I can’t quite agree with this, because my grandfather was one of the finite praisers

    I can understand and respect that. There was a generation who lived through world war(s) and the great depression, life was tough, at times a brave face was all that many had, it was in a lot of ways a natural response hewn from the misery of the age, not isolated to this country I’m sure. It’s more the ongoing inheritance of this stoicness as a conditioned response, beyond the influence of comparable hardship, as a model of something essentially kiwi, through to the present age and on into the future that I’m alluding to – not so much who we inevitably are as something some of us became and never stopped being, quite possibly assisted by the timing of the advent of television, without much else in the way of reference or memory.

    Further back, In our World War 1 mythology, for better or worse it was boisterous enthusiastic young men who queued up to fight the Kaiser. Having said that, as intermediaries, Johnno and Ben are all over each other, a teary John Campbell was embraced by the nation, so there have been and are an increasing number of visible alternatives models for the ‘blokes’. I’m sure that this penchant for stoicism is on the wain, and will one day lose its foothold in the provinces, but the mood of the old guard of that movement remains inextricably intertwined with that of the All Blacks.

    Tangentially I was attempting to watch some Fred Dagg yesterday, and I couldn’t get passed the misogyny in almost every clip, while satirical in intent, I can see how it may have missed the mark completely and even how elements could be construed as positive reinforcement by certain demographics.

    But yeah, recently my nephew trialed the Steiner kindergarten and seemed to enjoy it, but his dad who is of the rural/ rugby persuasion put his foot down “I don’t want him turning out like one of them”. I see rugby in his future. Just as Alec concluded “Whaddarrrryaaaaa!!!!”

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Heh. 5th Test at Durban, 3rd to 14th of March 1939. Match drawn (by agreement). That was 10 days of play in total, after subtracting rest days and another no-play day. England was 654/5 in the 4th innings at the point of stopping. They'd only needed 696 to win the game, but still won the 5 match series 1-0. Apparently it was only the 5th test which they'd agreed to be timeless, and nobody had expected it to go beyond 5 days.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1141 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I like to watch but have never played, beyond backyard matches when I was very small. It's rough as heck. My Dad pretty much didn't recommend it, despite having (by his own confession) having only done 7th form so that he could play in the Kelston 1st 15, and being a lifelong rugby lover.

    Perhaps it was the timing - I was about the age to start rugby in 1981 and he was strongly anti-tour (although he sneakily watched every game in the delayed coverage, after coming back from demonstrations). But more to the point, I was anti-tour as probably my first true political decision (of course strongly parentally influenced) and I found much to dislike in the attitudes of the rugby players amongst my peer age (who were, ironically, mostly PI and Maori). Also, it was exactly the same time that NZ was building up to that glorious time we got into the soccer world cup, so soccer was a natural choice. I played that until the day that I got fucking sick of the annoying team manager and quit on the spot.

    I switched to Judo, then later Tae Kwon Do. My father would not accept either choice as sufficient for the sporting side of my development, despite the fact that he was an accomplished Judoka himself. When I showed talent at Waterpolo, he pushed really hard for me to continue, and I reached a high standard, playing it competitively, but still for fun, until well into my 30s.

    I think it was a good call of his - by sport, he meant team sport. There are a lot of very positive aspects of team sports that I got a lot out of throughout my life. To this day some of my best friends are people I played waterpolo with. This has never been the case for the martial arts, even though I've spent at least as much time doing those over the years, and still do them now for fitness and fun.

    I don't think we can generalize my experience or my father's wisdom to all people, though. Some just hate team sports and will never enjoy them, and yet might have a lot to gain from physical training of a more individual kind. And I acknowledge that health-wise, the jury is probably out on the true benefit of sport. Quite aside from the counterbalancing aspect of serious injury, there is that thing that people tend not to do team sports once they are beyond competitive age, whereas individual sport can be for life (even martial arts can be continued indefinitely, so long as you don't compete in brutal competition). And individual physical training need not be sport - even more enduring is healthy habits, which I think are actually negatively influenced by sport, particularly professional sport. In this regard, I think our obsession with sport does us a dis-service, and all the more so because that sport happens to be rugby, a game which has a particularly big toll on the human body, a particularly specific body type and mentality required, and a historically male-oriented culture.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    All caveats above given, I'll be up in the small hours tomorrow with both my boys, watching Fiji beating the shit out of England :-)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to BenWilson,

    All caveats above given, I’ll be up in the small hours tomorrow with both my boys, watching Fiji beating the shit out of England :-)

    And why wouldn't you? (though I may record it and watch it a little later ;-) )

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    a historically male-oriented culture.

    I think we're still there

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to andin,

    I think we’re still there

    For sure. I carefully put "historically" in there so as not to deny the existence of the Black Ferns, who have dominated women's rugby completely, winning 4 world cups in a row, and thinking that in the future it's possible they could get the recognition they deserve.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    I think it was a good call of his - by sport, he meant team sport. There are a lot of very positive aspects of team sports that I got a lot out of throughout my life.

    I found schoolwork pretty easy and it was good for me to participate in something I wasn't gifted at, and to rub shoulders with kids I'd never have encountered academically.

    On the other hand, the year I didn't make my club's under-14 open team and wound up captaining the Under 15 under 8 stone B team – the only B-team in its competition, we didn't win a game all season – was an instructive early experience in leadership.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    Hastings

    Which is where my uncles were born and where my grandparent had both been living when they met. Technically it was my grandmother and my step-grandfather at the game for the sake of accuracy, both very cool people, more interested in motor sport than rugby as far as I can recall, she played golf, I can’t quite see her in uggs and I never heard anything like that from either of them, so I if I’d been armed I would have been inclined to shoot the messenger on that occasion, conformity’s a dangerous thing.

    My grandfather had bailed around the time I was born and that match took place a few months before he was beaten to death in a Sydney bar, probably with good reason. She is a tough cookie, president of the local Plunket, hardened up herself by being chased around the house by my grandfather and his shotgun, he drank a lot and used to beat my mum with a jug cord.

    But anyway here we find ourselves again, the Green’s “bad political management” lost in the sands, the small spike in assault and disorder during the 2011 Rugby World Cup forgotten, the increase in domestic violence during the opening week repressed, 5500 members of the Medical Association being “seriously concerned at the rationale being used to justify” the law changes ignored, a statement decrying the new law which “runs counter to established international policy and principles for alcohol harm reduction” issued by the College of Public Health Medicine – with a membership of more than 200 doctors – disregarded, the apprehension voiced by the Hawke’s Bay Community Action Youth and Drugs Team towards the proposed legislation potentially encouraging Kiwi binge drinking culture sidelined, The Health Promotion Agency’s stance that the new legislation would undermine the recent reforms – which tightened up rules around the sale and supply of booze – and “reinforces the current culture of drinking in New Zealand” swept aside, Women’s Refuge chief executive Ang Jury’s position “The committee needs to accept that there is no short term fix it can implement to address the inevitable harm associated with extended access to alcohol over the course of the Rugby World Cup” brushed off.
    .

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    4 billion years

    Wrong or can I put it down to hearing loss or memory malfunction, or does that come under the heading of decline of cognitive function. Ain't being alive grand.

    the only B-team in its competition, we didn’t win a game all season – was an instructive early experience in leadership

    If only our elected representatives could see the benefit of not being on top all the time IF ONLY.
    Doesnt change my opinion that sports people can easily be turned into modern day gladiators useful at keeping the populace entertained and distracted while the "elected and wealthy" indulge their greed and incompetence and fuck the rest of the population over.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to BenWilson,

    watching Fiji beating the shit out of England :-)

    OK, didn't happen. But there was a point about 3/4 time were it could have gone either way :-). I didn't really think at that point that Fiji had what it took, though - they were looking gassed. This is a really fit and fast English team, great to see. Really enjoyed that whole game. Brilliant tournament opener. I think the bonus point thing made the death of the game a lot more exciting. Both teams were really trying hard even to the end, despite the win-loss result being well in the bag for England.

    But mission accomplished! My youngest learned quite a lot about the rules of rugby this morning, and what the tournament involves. Couldn't get Marcus into it, though. And I'm obviously never going to encourage him to play tackle rugby - his multiple disabilities would mean he would just get smashed, and quite probably seriously injured.

    But he does play ripper-rugby at school. He's even scored a try, apparently. I expect that it was the other kids being nice to him, supposedly both teams were cheering him as he ran it in.

    I found schoolwork pretty easy and it was good for me to participate in something I wasn’t gifted at, and to rub shoulders with kids I’d never have encountered academically.

    It's the participation that the important thing, IMHO. I do like that it crosses social boundaries like differences in intellect, race, class and age. Even players who weren't very good had a shared interest, and spectators had their level of participation too. The boundary of sex, however, is not so well crossed with rugby. Waterpolo did much better on that score. Even if only the most talented girls could actually play among teenage boys, we still trained together, watched each other's games, socialized. Not something we've worked out how to do with our main sports in NZ. TBH, I do think that this might have a lot to do with the tradition of sexually segregated schooling too, which I never had to endure.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Following up on that, I have to echo andin's point above a little bit, in that while sport is a good thing to encourage in children, I don't "believe in" it, and I certainly don't "believe in rugby". I know the title of a blog post shouldn't have too much read into it, being like a headline to grab attention. But still - we need to acknowledge that sport isn't for everyone, and definitely rugby isn't the sport for everyone who might otherwise be into sport. There are negatives that have to be seen for what they are.

    It's something I put a lot of thought into, what direction to push my own children. I'm encouraging them to watch rugby, just because it is a nationally important sport, like cricket (which I actually mostly dislike). It's news, something to talk about, social grease.

    But what I will encourage them to actually participate in themselves is a whole different matter. You want to find a balance of challenge, development, socialization, and success.

    A sport that is too hard will be discouraging. A sport that is too easy may lack any real physical development. So rugby will put off the frail children completely. But lawn bowls or minigolf are hardly doing much for the child's physical competence.

    Individual sports can be unsocial - but not always. Swimming, for instance, seems to be social because they train and tour in squads, even though events are individual. Tennis is pretty individual, but then they all hang out in the clubrooms (apparently) so I don't know, maybe it's not so bad.

    Their actual success is something that's also tricky to balance. It might seem that you should get them to do what they succeed at more, but this can lead to rapid specialization and obsession, and isolation. It's got subtle dangers for the parent as much as the child - you could be tempted to take obsessive pride in your child's performance and push them well beyond the point where the sport is beneficial to them. Here we hit the conflict between amateur and professional, since a professional sportsperson is usually built from a young age.

    I am, quite frankly, against it in general. I don't think it should be disallowed - some people have happy lives in professional sport. But I don't think that's the norm. It's not a path I would recommend to any but the most talented and obsessed people (and there's no stopping them anyway). To my mind, a culture of professionalism in sport brings out mostly the worst aspects.

    The bodies of the participants are often wrecked. Their older years are often spent in disability and pain. They way they are encouraged to conduct themselves is often disgraceful. The rewards are incredibly asymmetrical, some get millions, most can barely make a living. The temptation to take performance enhancing drugs is very high, and the health and social messaging effects of these are terrible.

    Then there's what their bodies are like when they're at the top of their game - they typically become idols, but with physiques that are essentially completely unattainable to most people. I don't think this helps body self-image in the general population at all.

    What to do about it, I don't know for sure. Professional sport is here to stay. I think that NZ rugby might just have got some part of this right, although it's only been professional here for a short time so it's hard to see the long term social implications.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to BenWilson,

    It’s something I put a lot of thought into, what direction to push my own children. I’m encouraging them to watch rugby, just because it is a nationally important sport, like cricket (which I actually mostly dislike). It’s news, something to talk about, social grease.

    But what I will encourage them to actually participate in themselves is a whole different matter. You want to find a balance of challenge, development, socialization, and success.

    I believe essentially the best approach is to expose them to as wide a range of activities as possible and be prepared within reason to follow their lead, without necessarily even limiting the options to sport.

    While it’s currently rugby at Tawera High School, the possibilities for engagment, challenge, development, socialization, and success are wide open.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to chris,

    I believe essentially the best approach is to expose them to as wide a range of activities as possible and be prepared within reason to follow their lead, without necessarily even limiting the options to sport

    That's pretty much the strategy. "Within reason" being the devil beridden detail. I do believe in pushing children to do things they're reluctant to do, up to a point, if the thing is really worth doing, for them, in my opinion.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • Callum McGillivray, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    Hi there,

    I don't believe that you're being over-sensitive. I believe that the All Blacks' presence in our media and political sphere is quite frustrating. Let me further explain:

    Just wanted to acknowledge your last paragraph about how the "bloke-y, matey political trend with the national side makes [you] uncomfortable."

    It really makes wonder how many other people are tired of the dominance of news and political coverage the All Blacks get in New Zealand. I mean, take a look at the World Cup squad announcement at the beehive - how ridiculous? It had a dedicated TV programme and the front page of the Herald the next day!

    Gender equality in sports has always been a problem, and none more so than the All Blacks presence in our media. Take a look at the Tall Ferns for example, who barely get any attention in the media and were restricted to a magazine spread for their Netball World Cup squad announcement only several months ago. Spot the difference here?

    Now, I'm a male myself and yes, I avidly support the All Blacks, but I do not enjoy the commodification and "celebrification" that comes with them. Ok, yes they're are the best team in the world (arguably), but we are certainly very good at the other sports, i.e Netball, Rowing and Hockey (to and extent). Yet, their media attention is significantly inferior to that of the All Blacks.

    Unfortunately, I also believe that it will most likely never change and will probably become worse if we win the World Cup this year, catch 22 I guess.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2015 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to BenWilson,

    I do believe in pushing children to do things they’re reluctant to do, up to a point, if the thing is really worth doing, for them, in my opinion.

    Definitely, it takes a hours with most pursuits to reach a point where you’re able to get the most out of it. One thing I was reluctant to do and absolutely suck at is swimming but if I’d not learnt those basic skills I’d likely never have discovered my love for sailing, kayaking and windsurfing.

    I think age is a paramount consideration, with preteens I’d cast the net far and wide while also making sure to cover the basics, is there a team activity? Something for upper body/ lower body, any non-sporting activity? Identifying their strengths? Are they having fun? Risks? How much does it cost? Equipment? Though I played it from quite a young age, my parents weren’t great followers of soccer, and it didn’t really become enjoyable for me until a few years into it when they splashed out on some decent shin pads.

    Once kids hit puberty, I guess lack of motivation becomes an issue and it’s important that then or thereabouts that they’ve been assisted into activities that are both beneficial and fulfill them on a number of levels.

    I guess the best guide of parents is to look at themselves, I knew a couple of kids at school, sporting all-rounders, who continued to excel at their summer sports but had totally dropped out of contention for the top rugby team by the end of high school. Having respectively played flanker and hooker for 9-10 years by that point they couldn’t adjust to any other position at that level. Anyone looking at the parents could have guessed years earlier that there was only a very slim chance that those boys were ever going to grow tall enough or be sufficiently built to play those positions long term. As a strong-left I always found hockey season a bit of joke.

    Nowadays my wife and I play quite a bit of badminton, which I enjoy for the fact that it feels a like being a hobbit playing slow-motion tennis.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Gould S, in reply to 81stcolumn,

    While it might not be obvious to those who complain that the importance of this sport is being blown completely out of proportion, there are deeper political objectives underlying NZ Rugby that other sports don’t hold to.

    I don’t believe that John Key cashes in on the successful “identity” of the All Blacks (NZRU representatives) just because they win. I believe that Key’s alignment with the All Blacks is another result of transnational corporations (Adidas) and the concentrated media ownership of Rupert Murdoch.

    In 1995 Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited signed a 10-year $550 million deal with the New Zealand, Australian and South African rugby unions. Don’t you think this is a major contribution to how the All Blacks are portrayed to the public? This would have created a huge spike in the transnational marketing of the NZ AB’s as a team to “watch” not to mention the “head to head” history of NZ, Australia and South Africa.

    Perhaps without this concentrated media ownership, the saturation of ‘Black outs’ in your headlines might have been less invading, and John Key might not be magnified as ‘branding himself’ off Rugby?

    This global pedestal and the successes of the All Blacks are potentially one of the biggest contributions to NZ’s global position (politically). This is a ‘game’ where every ‘nation’ is classed as its own. Each nation is striving to be the best at the ‘game’ but it’s meaning and ability to be seen as the best consists of so much more.

    auckland • Since Sep 2015 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Gould S,

    I believe that Key’s alignment with the All Blacks is another result of transnational corporations (Adidas) and the concentrated media ownership of Rupert Murdoch.

    Not only Adidas

    On October 12, 2012, AIG announced a 5 ½ year agreement to sponsor six New Zealand-based rugby teams, including world champion All Blacks. The AIG logo and the Adidas logo, the league’s primary sponsor, will be displayed on the league’s team jerseys.

    The connections between Key and AIG are far more sinister.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    Some just hate team sports and will never enjoy them, and yet might have a lot to gain from physical training of a more individual kind.

    Indeed, it can be quite subversive....

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Callum McGillivray, in reply to Gould S,

    Do you not think that Key uses the identity of the All Blacks as a celebrity politician? The All Blacks are seen as heroes or gods, so to speak, in NZ and their status as celebrities are a huge advantage for Key. Whether they win or not, they're status as such will most likely never change. So, in a sense they're doing Key's marketing for him.

    Yet, would it be any different with any other teams? I mean, the Kiwis (Rugby League) are the number 1 team in the world at the moment. Would we be reacting the same sort of way or would we appreciate the sharing of having more of our NZ teams in the media?

    Auckland • Since Sep 2015 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Callum McGillivray,

    Yet, would it be any different with any other teams?

    National seem to have dropped their electoral dalliance with rowing - despite the NZ teams recent world class results and they are distancing themselves from 'bad boy' musicians too - the (oh so) 'pretty legal' Eminem clone music is gone and Chris Brown ain't welcome either...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7948 posts Report Reply

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