Sporting codes treading on each other’s toes
Big Bash League: Sixers v Heat (Image credit: All-Codes)
The timing of the Allan Border Medal, Australian cricket’s night of nights, says a lot about the messy scheduling of the cricket season. With the Commonwealth Bank Series still a match away from its finals series, Australian cricket was patting itself on the back for a job well done.
In their reworked season in which it’s squeezed in a month-long window for the Big Bash League in December and January and the return of the international one-day tri-nations Commonwealth Bank Series, Cricket Australia has further intruded into the footy codes’ seasons.
When the Commonwealth Bank Series finishes on March 8 (assuming a third and deciding final is required), the NRL season will be underway and heading into its second round of the season, Super Rugby into its third, and the AFL’s pre-season NAB Cup competition approaching its finals.
Then throw into the mix the A-League season that will not conclude till the end of March, having moved the season back to avoid the season start clashing with the NRL and AFL’s finals series; the NBL, the other summer ball sport, which will also finish at the end of March; and V8 Supercars’ season, which begins this weekend in Adelaide.
So within this current fortnight (end of February to the beginning of March) we have the following running concurrently: international and domestic cricket, NRL Premiership, Super Rugby, A-League, NBL, V8 Supercars, AFL pre-season, to name just the major Australian sporting codes. The AFL Premiership is the only major code “out of season” in this period, by just a fortnight.
Manna from heaven for sports fans, yes, but this increasing crossover period of summer and winter sports highlights the competitiveness and volatility of the current landscape.
The recent fluctuation in crowds for the likes of Melbourne Heart shows how volatile the market is for codes down the pecking order. Even the AFL saw a dip in Melbourne crowds for the NAB Cup opener, as did the Super Rugby NSW Waratahs match against the Queensland Reds relative to last season’s corresponding fixture.
As for cricket, the decision by hosts of domestic one-day final, South Australia Redbacks, to throw the gates open to fans to “celebrate and say thank you” is an intriguing one. A crowd of over 10,000 turned up in what was the largest crowd for a domestic one-day cricket match.
Yet how do you judge a crowd of 10,000 to a free grand final of a national competition? When Adelaide’s Big Bash League franchise pulled over 25,000 multiple times, to a paid event, does the 10,000 who bothered to turn up to a free final reflect just how weakened one-day and Sheffield Shield domestic competitions are as a result of the Big Bash League (which failed to reach its predicted crowd heights, by the way), or is there a general trend across all sports?
The competition for our dollar has never been this intense. And we only have a certain amount of disposable income for sports, in what remains a challenging economy.
Expansion of competitions means codes need to maximise their attack on their respective markets, which are shrinking as more professional clubs move in.
Things are getting tighter and even more competitive.
Adrian Musolino is editor of V8X Magazine, and has written as an expert on The Roar since 2008, cementing himself as a key writer who can see the big picture in sport. He freelances on other forms of motorsport, football, cycling and more.
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