Posts Tagged ‘Sports journalism’

I hereby retire from reading the ramblings of idiots

I am officially retired from reading comments on sports websites. Unless you wish to become objectively stupider, or wish to have a brain aneurysm, I suggest you do the same.

Having been an avid reader (if this torture could ever be described as reading, or if those who do it to themselves could ever be avid) of the comments on the bottom of stories about sport in Australia I have at times found myself contemplating the kind of people there are in this world. What do they do, aside from blaming officials for everything that’s wrong with their sport and their lives? Is there more to life? Have they ever heard of happiness? The kind of existential questions clearly never considered by those who serially post (note how close that is to serial pest) on websites.

Life and sport governance is simple, they say, as are the rules. Why can’t we just go back to the good old days of having everything black and white? All this dastardly newfanglery has made my head ache and my balls itchy. Oh yeah, that’s the spot.

By the way, I know this might seem to tie in with the whole cyber bullying thing doing the rounds in the media at the moment, but it really wasn’t inspired by this. It’s quite coincidental, and was brought on by my hatred of stupid people.

The worst part about it all is that I feel like journalists cater to their throngs of commenting supporters who make them feel like they’re influencing the structures of governance with their ill-informed gripes about things that confuse and therefore anger them. They bash out the same old stuff each and every week, their keyboards groaning as they copy paste last week’s piece into a new document as a template.

Perhaps this lady has a clever web pseudonym and posts on Australian sports stories?

My formula for a rugby league story: Ref makes mistake. Ref therefore worst person in the history of the world. Get quotations from coach about how referees deserve a noose. Pander shamelessly to your idiot fans. Profit.

If “ref” doesn’t suit on one particular weekend, then substitute for David Gallop. Even better, write an open letter to David Gallop.

The Australian sports media has convinced me that open letters are the preferred medium of morons.

It does no one any favours, particularly intellectually. In fact, reading some publications’ coverage of rugby league would achieve similar levels of intellectual augmentation as running headfirst at a brick wall with a only saucepan to cushion the blow.

What really irks me is that people actually believe what they are reading.

As such, I’ve compiled a list of suggestions that have been bandied about by commenters in an attempt to prove that a) they are devoid of firing synapses in their cerebrum, and b) their suggestions are largely contradictory and/or meaningless. I shall not attempt to point out the folly or contradiction, as I trust readers of this to be able to do that themselves. A is for apple.

1. Fix the rulebook! All this screwing with the rules has created all these grey areas that no one, even the refs, understand anymore.

2. Blow more penalties! If someone is 1cm offside, there is no calling them out of the play. None of this “managing the game” bollocks, just blow the whistle.

3. Refs are ruining the game with their damn whistles! If they didn’t blow so many penalties, my lonely Friday nights spent with my two best mates, pizza and Tooheys, would be much more enjoyable. Plus, the less penalties they blow the more I can stand up and scream “Are you blind ref!?!?,” although I have been getting more noise complaints than usual recently… And yes, my two best mates are pizza and Tooheys, you read it right.

4. David Gallop is terrible, and don’t tell me otherwise! I don’t know the guy, I’ve never watched one of his press conferences, I never saw how he handled himself and the terrible positions he was put in by morons, but I have it on good information from my friend of a friend’s dog’s brother’s canary’s master’s owner’s sister-in-law that David Gallop is just awful at his job and should be blamed for every one of rugby league’s and my own problems. And even though he is no longer employed by the NRL or the independent whatsit, he’s still to blame for the fact my Weet-bix are soggy.

5. Replace all the refs, coaches, players, fans, administrators and toilet cleaners! Everyone needs to pack their bags.

6. As soon as we get sick of blaming Gallop, we can start to blame John Grant up in his ivory tower! Look at him, all the way up there. How the hell did he afford all that ivory?

7. AFL is better than our sport, so we should start to copy them! Short shorts, singlets, cappucinos, four goalposts. By gee, the grass looks a lot greener over there. Oh, that’s right, it’s really cold in Melbourne.

8. Players don’t make mistakes, people make mistakes! Players are heroes, not people. Coaches are often former players. Learn some respect, you stupid blogger!

9. Bill Harrigan! Rabble rabble rabble.

10. Everything keeps getting worse! Apparently this game is supposed to be professional, but I see no evidence of professionalism. Professional players? Professional players don’t get paid to shit in hallways. Referees now being professional? I spit on referees. Full time referee coaches? Not worth my time. Independent commission? I see no accountability. In fact, now that I mention accountability, no one is accountable for anything anymore. Except me behind my internet handle.

Anyway, I’m over it. I’m done with reading comments on sports stories unless they are hilarious and are about Scott Minto. There is a guy on Foxsports who does some rippers.

Finally, the commenter name of the week goes to: D Messenger of Referees are not real people! Well done, your stupidity is now enshrined in these hallowed chronicles.

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Dead rats aplenty in Australian rugby

A dead rat

You’ve probably all got two questions for me.

The answer to the first one is yes, I definitely think it was my blog post that forced John O’Neill’s hand and made him call it a day as ARU CEO. I kid, but indulge me for a second on one of my favourite topics.

Being a sports administrator in Australia sucks. I think that, generally speaking, they are incredibly hard working, intelligent people who are honestly trying to do their best for the sport, but people who have no idea what they are talking about still blame them for every problem they don’t understand due to their lack of comprehension of things that are fundamental to being a reasonable human being. David Gallop did the same as JON, quitting the sport he had worked so hard for with no thanks from the fans or journalists who didn’t realise exactly what he had been doing for the ten years that was possibly the best in the game’s histroy. So I suppose some sort of thanks should be in order for John’s work and his putting up with being covered in shit for so long.

As for the second question, I just don’t know. I don’t know what the previous record for the most uses of the word “shit” in a blog post is so I can’t comment. I know many of you might find that “disappointing,” but there you have it.

Begin aiming handfuls of shit at me.

And to further preface this post, I want to explore two more phrases sporting people in the media like to say. The first is “can’t comment,” which is extremely frustrating mostly because the utterer is inevitably pretending they’re harbouring national security secrets in those pea brains when really they’re only not saying what’s written on their wrist tape: “Run hard at player with x on their back.”

The second one is “accountability.” If there’s one thing I’ve learned from sports media it’s that everyone has a different definition of accountability for every situation and will use it against people with a different, in their view flawed, view of accountability. The other thing is that everyone except the person who actually should be accountable is responsible for the mistakes of others.

As for this post, well, what’s it about? It can’t be about shit, I’ve done that one to death.

No, this one is going to flesh out one of the things I hinted at in the last article, and that is people blaming the Waratahs for everything that’s terrible in the world. Are they really “accountable” for the Wallabies terrible play?

I know they weren’t terribly impressive this year. The fans weren’t happy with their performances, which was reflected in the crowd numbers. But Sydney has always been a fickle market and when a team ain’t winning on the field, chances are they’re probably not packing out their horribly located venue.

As usual, journalists thought the Waratahs were the worst thing that ever happened to society, and once again we have a change in coach, change in CEO, fan forums, the works. It almost seems to me like the Waratahs are being accountable, but I can’t really comment on that. I know that might be disappointing for you to hear.

In fact, it is hard to tell with journos exactly whose fault it is. Is it everyone’s favourite person to hate, the head administrator? Michael Foley copped a lot of stick this year, so maybe it was the coach? Perhaps it’s the players? No, what was I thinking? It’s never the players’ fault for playing badly. How silly of me!

In the case of the Waratahs it seems to be some sort of joint venture of all three ‘camps’ (pet peeve alert), which honestly doesn’t help when you’re trying to write a snappy headline.

“Combination of poor administration, bad coaching and terrible play cited as reason for Horrortah season by Waratah CEO,” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as “Fire the NRL refs.” Rugby League journos just have it made, what with everything being in black and white and all.

But one very well thought of rugby scribe went on record after John O’Neill retired saying that the Wallabies were on struggle street not for the reasons that Quade “Toxic Environment” Cooper was rabbiting on about.

There’s nothing wrong with the ARU, he says, or the Wallabies’ management or coaching structure or gameplan or any such thing like that which would make sense in the context of the Wallabies playing poorly. These people are and have been accountable for their errors according to this journalist, and it was an entirely separate entity bringing down the house.

It was in fact the Waratahs, from beyond the Super Rugby grave, making the men in yellowy-gold play badly. He said that the Waratahs players are so brainwashed by an inept administration (recently fired and replaced) and coaching setup (ditto) and playing poorly themselves (never really the players’ faults though) that they can’t possibly hope to play well ever again, even under another structure like Deans’ (which happens to be excellent). All along, it was the bloody Waratahs are screwing it up for the rest of us.

Sorry, but do you know how ridiculous that sounds?

Let me just savour it for a moment. Hmm. Yes. It has strong notes of Warnie blaming mum for taking diuretics, with a background palate of Bulldogs players not yelling at the media, but in fact at each other. But how are the legs? Sadly they are shithouse.

Let’s humour this man for a second. Let’s pretend that the Waratahs do objectively suck, and could never play football after being cursed by donning the sky blue jersey. Could we compare the inept organisation at the Waratahs to, say, what must be a terrible culture at the Lions? This is a team that has hardly competed with other teams, let alone won a game, in Super Rugby since its inception.

Do people blame the Lions for South Africa losing to Australia, or drawing with Argentina? No. But the Saffas sure as hell don’t pick as many Lions’ players as they do Stormers or Bulls.

And yet this current batch of Wallabies is proverbially heaving with Worrytahs, or Horrortahs, or Wobbletahs, or some other terrible pun on the state flower. Why is that?

Well, it’s either they are good players, deserving of playing for the Wallabies, or that the Australian selectors are mistaken in selecting them. Notice how neither of these two reasons involves a problem created by the Waratahs franchise. In fact, one would even involve some kudos for the Tahs, directly contradicting the point that Waratah players can’t catch, pass or run (we all know they can kick).

I know it’s sometimes confusing separating the Waratahs problems from the Wallabies, what with both teams start with the same letter and all, but the jersey is a different colour for one, and the coach of the team in gold is a New Zealander.

There’s just no way we can or we should blame the Tahs for problems that aren’t theirs. For me, it’s “disappointing” that people try to pass the buck of “accountability” onto the younger brother when bigger brother has a shocker, but maybe I shouldn’t comment on that.

My dad has a saying: if it looks like dead rat, and smells like dead rat, then it’s probably dead rat. To me, it looks and smells like there is more than one dead rat, and to pass off two dead rats as one, well, that’s just disrespectful to the other dead rat.

When it all goes to shit, have a shower

The Wallabies sure have created something of a shitstorm in the past few weeks haven’t they?

For all those who have been on Mars or in Norway for the past month or so let me summarise what’s been happening.

Basically everyone, the team, journalists, Quade Cooper, people who are not Quade Cooper and every blogger and guest columnist that ever existed have taken little handfuls from the big pile of shit that was heaped on the Waratahs throughout the year and begun flinging it at each other. They no longer know why they are doing it, just like monkeys probably don’t know why they throw their own faeces at other monkeys, but hey, there’s still shit flying through the air.

If you’ve ever read a newspaper in Sydney or Brisbane then you’ll know that the pile of shit that has been dumped on the Waratahs is ample. Well, the shit flinging to date has put a rather severe dent in that pile, and in the wash-up almost everyone’s left with their hands and body covered in shit.

First of all the Wallabies incurred the wrath of the ‘aimless kicking brigade,’ those rugby fans who come out of the woodwork every year when the Tri-Nations, sorry, ‘Rugby Championship,’ starts, by playing like shit against the All Blacks. These people threw shit at the men in yellow (thanks Quade) for two weeks until their arms were sore and covered in shit from flinging so much shit.

The Wallabies’ players and coaches found themselves covered with shit as a result of this barrage from the public. But they hadn’t thrown any themselves. Yet.

Then Quade Cooper decided to dig up a big handful of shit and fling it at everyone at the ARU; not so much at the players, but at the coach and whoever it is who decides where they train.

Robbie Deans is again asked for comment by the shit-flinging journalists who are praying for a reaction from him, just hoping he will scoop up a handful of shit and throw it at someone, anyone. After the amount of shit he has all over him by now, who wouldn’t? But he refuses to bite.

More people dip their hands into the shit pile, with a number of “senior Wallabies,” mysterious, eerie figures who remain nameless (are they ghosts?) throw a bunch of shit at Quade, then Drew Mitchell does the same, labelling Quade’s “comments” as “disappointing,” the universal sporting term for anything anyone doesn’t like.

The headline on a certain webpage I visited said “Mitchell slams Quade” then goes on to quote Mitchell as saying Quade’s comments were “disappointing.” But we all know the subtext of “disappointing.” It just means that the disappointee has a big pile of shit in his hand, and he/she (don’t want to be a misogynist) is throwing said shit at the disappointer, cuing the throw by saying the word “disappointing.” Sort of like how you say “heads” as a stray football almost kills a senior citizen. The word disappointment is used more a gateway to shit being thrown than it is to describe a real emotion.

Now Quade’s covered in shit too, and a bunch of journos come out and throw shit at the Wallabies some more, more because they’re rugby writers and there’s no rugby at the moment, as well as just to reminisce. Then people say the journos are just bored and tiresome so they throw some shit at them.

There’s brief respite when someone figures out that this is all the Waratahs fault again, and the pile of shit at Moore Park is built back up a little, before people realise the guy’s an idiot so create a brand new mess by throwing shit at the guy who suggested it.

By this time all the boys in, or formerly in, yellowy-goldy-margeriney coloured jerseys are covered in shit. The journos are covered in shit too, thrown by the public, the players and themselves, and Robbie Deans is still caught in a shit crossfire and is up to his knees in shit. Still hasn’t thrown any though.

At one stage I threw some shit. I wrote an article on The Roar throwing shit at the Wallabies because I thought they sucked up a storm one day in Pretoria, before I realised that afterwards my hands were covered in shit and I retreated before any shit could be flung back. Dodged a bullet there.

Even Richie McCaw found time between winning footy games and having tea with the queen to throw some shit at a Robbie Deans, at which point Robbie must have been asking the eternal deity what he’s done to Richie except improve his resume, and Quade Cooper.

Finally the team wins. It might have been boring, but they still won. Less shit than normal is thrown.

The situation as it stands is that everyone’s covered in shit. Everyone’s hands are dirty from greedily diving into wheelbarrows of shit and hurling it nonchalantly at any passing target within convenient range. The people who have had shit flung at them fling some back, and somehow everyone ends up just throwing shit at each other and they’ve all forgotten why, but the shit-flinging must go on.

Robbie Deans, a poor New Zealand chap who it just so happens is a really good coach and seems to be a really good guy, is covered in shit because for whatever reason he is in the middle of the shit throwing and can’t wade out fast enough.

In general, the sooner people start using their noses the sooner they will realise they are covered in shit, and might go take a bath or something. The sooner everyone figures that out the sooner I might be able to read some good rugby writing.

Until then, I’ll just wash the small amount of shit I accumulated off myself and applaud Robbie Deans, for although he might be covered in the stuff, he’s the only one who doesn’t have to wash his hands.

Stand, spray and deliver.

Critiques from the arm chair