Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: A better thing to believe in

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  • izogi, in reply to BenWilson,

    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).

    I have a maybe-skewed memory of mum telling me she didn't want me playing rugby because it was such a rough and violent sport. I took that at face value and it didn't occur until much later that it would have only been a few years since 1981, and maybe that'd also had influence on her thoughts. So through the years I've ended up playing cricket, soccer and ultimate frisbee, none of which have stuck, although now I'm really into tramping, which for me ticks lots of the boxes that team sport used to but it's less structured.

    Despite all of the above I did really enjoy watching rugby and cricket for a while, as dad was keen on following them as I grew up. It would have continued after leaving home except I objected to paying a subscription for TV, plus I eventually married someone who has absolutely zero interest in watching other people playing sport. Today I can rarely name a player in the top teams let alone know what's been happening from one result to the next. I only know of Richie McCaw because of all the non-rugby press he's generated. I think I'd really struggle to tell the difference between a sports news bulletin from now compared with 5 years ago.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1141 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Johnson, in reply to Briar Ingledew,

    We (New Zealand) do give credit to other sports, such as the America's Cup, remember the parades down Queen St in Auckland when we won, and the Black Caps doing the unimaginable in the Cricket World Cup and beating South Africa to reach the final. We also praise the less popular sports that we are elite at, including the rowing/kayaking (numerous world titles and gold medals), motorsports (Scott Dixon multiple Indy Car Champion, McLaren is a world famous name in Formula one) etc, but they will never reach the heights of the All Blacks because rugby is our national game. This game is often referred to as a religion in New Zealand, so it is only natural that companies and organisation would want to align themselves with our national religion to make money off it. And the media are only feeding us what we have an appetite from, as they need to sell papers and adverts to stay in business.

    Everything else takes a back seat during the world cup. It is the event that defines our country for the next four years. Being the best team in the world, with our outstanding record over the past decade means something less if you are not world champions. So no one will really care about the flag for the next 7 weeks

    Since Sep 2015 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Briar Ingledew, in reply to Steve Johnson,

    Well Steve you do make some valid points

    "so it is only natural that companies and organisation would want to align themselves with our national religion to make money off it. And the media are only feeding us what we have an appetite from, as they need to sell papers and adverts to stay in business.”

    But does this "national religion” (the All Blacks) reflect our democratic society, where everyone believes in the same thing?
    The term “cult” would be far more correct in my opinion as the media or political actors are pushing a hegemonic ideal on the public.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2015 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Johnson, in reply to Briar Ingledew,

    The purpose of a democratic society is where debate reaches a point where the best decision for the majority is chosen. It would not be a democratic society if everyone believed the same thing.

    The term cult, is another term for religion, but the less popular religion, so in NZ's case Rugby League would be a cult. I think you are wrong to call Rugby Union or the All Black a cult, but you could if you wish to show it in a negative light.

    You can argue that the media/political actors are pushing a hegemonic ideal, but that is a very far fetched argument. They are just aligning themselves with the most popular 'brand' (The All Blacks) in an attempt to boost their own brand/sell more. They are not 'forcing' us to believe what they believe.

    Since Sep 2015 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Callum McGillivray, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    It's definitely a strange way to celebrities for his politics. I can see why Key (and National) would distance themselves from those types of artists, sort of framing Nationals identity as heroes when Key surrounds himself with the All Blacks. Even if the All Blacks do digress or make mistakes, they're swept under the rug and their status remains, i.e. Aaron Smith's d**k pictures scandal.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2015 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Steve Johnson,

    Cult carries its negative connotation for several reasons:
    the object of worship or devotion may be relatively unpopular; and/or the object of devotion may be regarded as strange or suspicious; and/or the devotees cannot exercise (or have been forced to abandon) critical appraisal.

    Rugby in NZ sometimes seems to meet the third of these conditions.
    (BTW it also strictly meets the first condition – the sport with the highest number of registered members in NZ is, and has been for some time, soccer.)

    Political use of rugby in NZ follows the simple associative logic of advertising (your product is surrounded by “good” things/ people => your product is “good”). Which is invalid, but nevertheless effective.

    But what makes the identification of All Blacks as heroes so automatic, and so allows this association to work, is the cult of rugby.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1935 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Callum McGillivray,

    i.e. Aaron Smith’s d**k pictures scandal.

    I do wish you'd picked an example where the All Black in question had actually done something wrong, not one where he was the victim of others' arseholitude.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Emma Hart,

    i.e. Aaron Smith’s d**k pictures scandal.

    I do wish you'd picked an example where the All Black in question had actually done something wrong, not one where he was the victim of others' arseholitude.

    Quite. Smith had a private picture of himself published everywhere without his permission, including the New Zealand Herald.

    The actual transgressions vary. Israel Dagg and Corey Jane made a dumb decision to go to a pub after taking sleeping pills, but they didn't actually hurt anyone. And it still gets included in newspaper stories about them, four years later.

    Julian Savea did hurt someone and gave an apparently (you'd bloody hope) genuine apology and completed police diversion, but it got reported by the Daily Telegraph, ESPN et al. So it wasn't exactly swept under the carpet.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Quite. Smith had a private picture of himself published everywhere without his permission, including the New Zealand Herald.

    That sentence has issues.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4442 posts Report Reply

  • Gould S, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    I agree with your analysis Steve. The transnational corporations Adidas and AIG are prime examples of how these corporations have a great influence on the spread and flow of information to the masses.
    If such dominant flows were not in place I don't believe that John Key and the media would portray the All Blacks as 'more important' world leaders than other New Zealand sport teams.
    An argument quite separate from their successes on the field.

    auckland • Since Sep 2015 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to Steve Johnson,

    The purpose of a democratic society is where debate reaches a point where the best decision for the majority is chosen.

    This made me curious as to exactly how popular Rugby is so I looked up the viewing figures for the 2011 RWC final:

    Nielsen figures show 2,036,900 viewers watched the All Blacks take on France, that’s 12,000 more than those watching the semifinal and 333,600 more than the first game of the tourney, All Blacks vs Tonga.

    2,264,150 or 55.8 percent of the population aged five plus tuned into the coverage, which was 90 percent of all viewers and makes it the most-watched event in New Zealand’s TV history.

    An actual majority, That’s pretty cool aye.

    so Inspired by this:

    the Brave Blossoms pulled off one of the greatest upsets in international sport

    I decided yeah! That’s something to believe in, I tracked down a delayed broadcast of that match on youtube, and emerged teary eyed, that sure was something special. Hooked as. So I went to check out how I could watch the All Black/ Argentina game on the tele

    New Zealand SkySports (every matches in rwc2015)

    Damn if we don’t have Sky Sports. No problem I thought, I’ll just have to watch one of those illegal sites. I did a bit of a google search, and I was in business, I caught curtain raisers in the form of US vs Samoa followed by Wales/Uraguay on wiziwig.tv where I’d managed to watch most of the 2011 RWC- the coverage was fine, only trouble was that site contained no link to the All Blacks/Puma’s match. Not to be defeated I opened realstreamunited.com the illegal streaming site where I’d managed to source the Fiji/England match, they had the link – bonanaza! By that point it was pretty cold so rounded up some headphones, switched on the Kindle, got into bed opened Realstreamunited.com, and full credit to them, one of their match links did open for 3 seconds, but from that point I had no joy. I went back to Wiziwig only to find that their tablet site had stopped broadcasting on January 1 2015. It was about 4:15am by this point but no problemo, I decided to go old school, I went to Radiosport clicked on their live coverage, it said I needed the Iheartradio app which may already be installed on my system, great! I went to check for the app, no app, so I clicked the download app button, we were in business, almost, we were at Amazon.com and the free App was not downloadable in my location. OK, no video, no audio, no worries mate. I logged onto stuff.co.nz to check their play by play text coverage. I fell asleep not long after.

    So that’s something to believe in, sure only half of New Zealand households have Sky, but that’s no a significant hindrance given the Government voted to allow pubs to stay open without a special licence, and I’ll admit I’m soft, there was absolutely nothing stopping me riding the 2kms in the rain last night on my bicycle with no lights to see if the game was being broadcast at the local. And kids? well, a bit of bummer that, especially for those poor ones whose parents can’t afford a Sky subscription, in fact especially those poor ones for whom professional sport offers a real opportunity to escape poverty whose parents can’t afford a Sky subscription, perhaps they can get inspired and learn their skills from text coverage or better still buy a radio, or get good at internet copyright infringement, and who cares about the kids anyway, they can find some delayed broadcast, there’s nothing special about tuning into a live broadcast of a sporting match, they can read the news headlines.

    ’Cheating’ Richie McCaw provides fuel for critics at Rugby World Cup

    Tells you pretty much all you need to know right? Kind of explains that whole National Party/All black symbiosis. as the PM said:

    "There’s a reason why Richie McCaw, Conrad Smith and all these [All Blacks] have come out and said change the flag – everywhere they go in the world people wave their [own] flags. We don’t do that,"

    Damn right we don’t. Watching others watching the national sport because we’re too poor to watch the national sport ourselves is no reason to wave a $26 million flag.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to steven crawford,

    Quite. Smith had a private picture of himself published everywhere without her permission, including the New Zealand Herald.

    That sentence has issues.

    Heh. It did

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to steven crawford,

    I thought it was kind of beautiful, for the briefest few hours the prioritising of gender distinctions and stereotypes was disregarded and we became one ovulating mixed up mess.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Gould S,

    I agree with your analysis Steve. The transnational corporations Adidas and AIG are prime examples of how these corporations have a great influence on the spread and flow of information to the masses.
    If such dominant flows were not in place I don't believe that John Key and the media would portray the All Blacks as 'more important' world leaders than other New Zealand sport teams.
    An argument quite separate from their successes on the field.

    Well, I can't tell you what to believe, but I cannot see the slightest basis for it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    2,264,150 or 55.8 percent

    A stadium of four million? Or two and a half million who don't give a fuck?

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

  • chris, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Given the limited options presented by it being broadcast it on TV1, TV3, Maori TV, and Sky, accounting for all the stops pulled in terms of establishing Party Central and factoring in that it was a New Zealand ‘event’, I’d favour the latter appraisal.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    The alleged national obssession, as seen more honestly - from the outside:

    "There may have been more All Black supporters in Wembley but for most of the first hour it appeared that every single one of them had their vocal chords ripped out." (Sean Ingle, Guardian).

    For confirmation, watch this morning's game. Lively Argentinians getting behind their team, while the Kiwis waved at themselves on the big screen.

    New Zealand rugby fans are probably the least animated in the sporting world. Let's not confuse loud corporate hype (endless ads) with loud support (endless noise).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1330 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    <pedant>Vocal cords. As in cords of rope, or muscle. Journos always get that wrong.</pedant>

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1935 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    Attachment

    Cartoon by Tremain

    I'm sure that by now everyone has seen that wide angle shot of Sam Whitelock towering over the PM, making him look like a dwarf amongst giants. Does Key really feel that he's one of the boys or does he just have an unnatural desire to be in close proximity to rampant testosterone?

    For those if us who find Key's sycophantic sucking up to sports' stars a little too much, Toby Manhire has put together a little picture special called When John Key Met the All Blacks.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1436 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to Alfie,

    Attachment

    Great piece by Toby. I'm surpised however that he failed to mention that JK was the inspiration for Mastercard's "Tim"

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to linger,

    <pedant>

    </pendant>

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19735 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Sacha,

    <codependant>

    JK = inspiration for Mastercard’s “Tim”

    </code>

    </pendant>

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1935 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Attachment

    This pic cracks me up
    our Hobbit PM
    under the mountain...
    source

    The man has no class, he has no 'right' to be there.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7948 posts Report Reply

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