Is live sport worth the effort nowadays?

Steve Spinks Roar Rookie

By Steve Spinks, Steve Spinks is a Roar Rookie

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51 Have your say

    Fans start piling into ANZ Stadium before the start of the Bledisloe Cup. Photo: Paul Barkley/LookPro

    Going to live sport – why bother? Firstly, you buy the ticket to attend, usually a nose bleed seat worth the gross domestic product of Lichtenstein.

    Then you have to get there. Usually this entails a few scenes from Planes, Trains and Automobiles, depending on how far you have to travel.

    Inevitably there is either a timetable mix-up, a breakdown or a taxi driver asking you for directions in a city that you’ve been to twice.

    On arrival at most stadiums you are frisked by security staff who act like it is them who have had to suffer the indignity of a public prostate examination. Offending bottles of water are confiscated for fear they may contain something that the stadium can’t make a buck out of.

    Fancy a quick drink before kick-off? Think again, the line ups are usually 30 deep and a 15-minute wait at best. By the time you get to have a drink it wouldn’t matter if you were drinking full strength or mid-strength beer, you will be sober anyway.

    Fancy a quick bite to eat before kick-off? Think again, the line ups are usually 30 deep and a 15-minute wait, not to mention the food is generally inedible, either arctic cold, nuclear hot, or just generally inedible.

    After sidestepping your way to the said nose bleed seat, usually in the middle of the row, you have to tread on the toes of 15 people to take your seat.

    They look at you with restrained hostility, as if it would only take one little spilt drop of beer from your cup for them to push you off tier three to the ground below.

    Finally, the match begins. Sometimes it can be a great match that you remember forever, sometimes indifferent, sometimes so bad you wish you had eaten that artic cold meat pie earlier so that you would die a slow and painful death just to ease the pain.

    There is also that feeling that deep down, you know you should have visited the urinal before kick-off. It slowly builds until you are incapable of sitting down.

    You give in to the inevitable and sprint for the toilet. Unfortunately, the line ups are usually 30 deep and a 15-minute wait. During this time you will invariably miss the winning try/goal/penalty.

    You finally make it back to your mates to be told about all the stuff you missed. Care for a beer on the way out to continue the chat? Forget about it, bar’s closed.

    Outside the stadium you are now running the gauntlet of supporters, police, security guards and public transport.

    It then takes you hours to reach your destination, be it a night out, a night in, or a night’s travel.

    Finally, you get home and you are left with the feeling that all that you really managed to get out of watching sport live was a near burst bladder, a black hole in your wallet, a body frisk that leaves you slightly violated and food poisoning.

    Still probably worth it though…

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    The Crowd Says (51)

    • August 21st 2013 @ 5:34am
      charkmandler said | August 21st 2013 @ 5:34am | ! Report

      Spot on. I stood in the corridor of an upper section at ANZ watching the entire second half of Origin last year (because it was my turn to get the beers). Every stoppage i would run out of the tunnel to find that the line up was even bigger than the last time i tried. Finally, in the 70th min, there was no line up. That’s because the @#&% kiosk was now closed.

      Couch, hdtv, beer, exclusive toilet, cheap food, numerous replays and commentary.

    • August 21st 2013 @ 7:29am
      A Mans Not A Camel said | August 21st 2013 @ 7:29am | ! Report

      Definately worth it, but I think only as perhaps a ‘few times a year’ experience. I do the ANZAC day trip from Brisbane to Melbourne each year. I know it’s gonna cost me big time. The flights, accomodation, public transport, tickets to MCG, beer @ $7.50 a pop, food that can only be described as diseased. But the atmosphere – you can’t get that on TV. 85,000+ people roaring at every kick, handball, mark, umpiring decision – it vibrates through you, energises you, pulls you into nirvana. I won’t be stopping my yearly trip anytime soon.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 7:55am
        Kasey said | August 21st 2013 @ 7:55am | ! Report

        I agree The ‘special’ events (Origin, Finals, Anzac Day. etc) have become a couple of times a year proposition(as a football fan I usually pick a couple of away games per season to attend), but attending home games week-in week-out is still one of life’s little pleasures as far as I’m concerned:) And despite the moaning, we should be thankful for our ultra competitive sporting environment creating the resultant reluctance to gouge the fans on ticket prices as they do in the USA, and to some extent in the Barclay’s Premier League. Google Personal Seat Licences to see what the greedy American NFL Owners have come up with to raise ticket prices without actually increasing the dollar amount shown on the ticket.
        PSLs: I recently read about a San Francisco 49ers fan that paid $30k just for the right to buy her expensive season tickets. PSL’s are a once off payment to secure the rights to purchase an annual season ticket. By splitting the payments, Owners aren’t faced with the PR nightmare of jacking up ST costs in one big hit.

    • August 21st 2013 @ 7:45am
      Johnno said | August 21st 2013 @ 7:45am | ! Report

      Not if your a sydneysider it doesn’t seem to be. Sydneysiders, are lazy, and complain about the cold weather watching games with rain, and wind and chilly weather. And whinge about public transport, unless it seems if live sport is in there backyards only 20 minutes away or 30 minutes max, they don’t like it. And will watch on the box.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 12:13pm
        Aljay said | August 21st 2013 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

        Thinking it takes 30 mins max to get to live sport in Sydney truly shows your not from here. Takes me 20 mins to walk from where i park the car to get to the ground.

    • August 21st 2013 @ 8:32am
      ciudadmarron said | August 21st 2013 @ 8:32am | ! Report

      Ah yes Johnno how enlightened other parts of the country are that they will turn up in the hail to watch blokes fight over a pigskin.
      Sydney is a very different place to Melbourne. Melbourne has had the benefit of being a one-code town more or less for the vast bulk of its history, instilling barracking as part of the culture from the gutter to the Melbourne Club. It’s stadia once were in the suburbs (and just how many fans used to trek to away games I wonder) – and after a failed attempt – waverly worked really well didn’t it? – they now have all the games played in the geographical centre of the city making it easy, with the integrated travel network – and don’t start complaining, I’ve experienced both, Melbourne’s system is far superior – for all fans to travel to the game. Sydney still has the suburban grounds, it’s big stadia are not centrally located and in the case of one require a special service to get there (i.e., it’s not on the way to or from anywhere else). The MCG/Docklands are a short walk to the centre of town and shorter walks to existing lines. On top of that the culture is different – it was long built on Union for the establishment, League for the proles and Football for anyone mad enough to take it up (and there is a long history of the game in the city pre-migrant days, without a large gap where there was no comp as in Melbourne). And of course there are the myriad of different things to do in the Sydney basin of a Saturday.

      As for the article, there are a bunch of things you can do to alleviate the problems. Firstly though, change your expectation of what live sport means – it doesn’t mean “like tv without the commentary”.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 9:25am
        Kasey said | August 21st 2013 @ 9:25am | ! Report


        The roar is a much nicer place when you begin to treat Johnno’s postings as the trolling that it frequently is. Often frequency of posting =/= value.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 11:22am
        Australian Rules said | August 21st 2013 @ 11:22am | ! Report

        Just on Waverley ciudadmarron – “waverly worked really well didn’t it?” – actually, it did.

        In it’s final years as an AFL ground Waverley was averaging about 35,000 crowds. Remember, this is *without* a train line to the ground, meaning everybody had to drive.

        Then, when the government renegged on its promise to build a rail, the AFL got into bed with Docklands and sold Waverley. It will assume full ownership of Etihad Stadium for the princely sum of $1 in 2025. So in all, yes, Waverley worked out extraordinarily well.

        And as for the “there’s more to do in Sydney” argument, the numbers actually prove that to be a false myth. ABS data shows that pro-rata, more people attend cutural events (museums, galleries, theatres) in Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Hobart and Canberra than in Sydney. Maybe the Sydney TVs are just way better than anywhere else 🙂

        • August 21st 2013 @ 12:34pm
          Prince Imperial said | August 21st 2013 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

          Don’t you know that Sydney’s harbour and beaches are jam packed on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights in winter? It’s a massive reason why the NRL matches have modest attendances. 🙂

        • August 21st 2013 @ 2:24pm
          ciudadmarron said | August 21st 2013 @ 2:24pm | ! Report

          Fair enough AR, I just remember it looking empty and windy and rather forlorn – and footy crowds in Melbourne have gone up a lot since the days of Waverley anyway haven’t they?

          As for the “more to do” argument, I am not surprised about the cultural events. Historically speaking though – and this is where you have to go, because this is a cultural thing, it’s not a matter of “there’s something on this weekend” – the Sydney basin has provided it’s inhabitants with opportunities for getting into the great outdoors – swimming, fishing, bushwalking etc etc. This is NOT to say that this is why less people in Sydney attend sporting events now. But when you have a long history culturally of not being as attached to attending the football for one reason or another, it still has a hold.

          • August 21st 2013 @ 3:41pm
            Australian Rules said | August 21st 2013 @ 3:41pm | ! Report


            Following the demise of Waverley, AFL crowds peaked at about 37,000 on average…and they’re back to about 32,000 (approx. Waverley-era levels).

            But again on the “Sydney’s Great Outdoors” argument, I can assure you that millions of people around Australia smile at the inference that these somehow far more spectular or family friendly or culturally potent than anywhere else.

            I mean, there are other places in Australia with beaches and bushwalking.

            • August 21st 2013 @ 3:42pm
              Australian Rules said | August 21st 2013 @ 3:42pm | ! Report

              …and I’m certain that Sydney-siders are pursuing these activities at night…when sporting events are predominantly held.

              • August 21st 2013 @ 8:28pm
                ciudadmarron said | August 21st 2013 @ 8:28pm | ! Report

                without doubt 😆 (thanks for the averages btw, interesting).

                but to take things back to the beginning.

                Sporting crowds in Sydney are lower than those of Melbourne. It has to be compared with Melbourne because it’s the only other city with a large number of teams in a national competition. Do we know what Brisbane or Perth or Adelaide would look like if each city had a number of teams in national competition, rather than just one or two?

                There has to be a reason for this.

                My original reasoning was actually simply that the barracking culture of Melbourne is what it is because it has had much of the city focussed on the one code for most of it’s history, including people from all walks of life – coming across it for the first time, it is strangely unsettling for a Sydneysider to see businessmen don their scarves of a Friday night and toddle off to the G alongside the toothless from Fountain Gate and the hipsters from Brunswick St – this doesn’t happen in Sydney. It’s odd as well because in some respects Melbourne is more elite conscious- look no further than the most hated teams in each city for a bit of an insight into this. But I digress.

                And then more recently you have the stadia issue – the bottom line is that it is far easier to get to the footy in one town than in the other. Has this always been so? I know it’s much easier to get to Princes Park or Victoria Park or Punt Rd Oval than it is to get to Leichhardt Oval or Brookvale or Kogarah or Henson Park or even North Sydney, all of which required a decent walk for the average punter from the nearest station, as opposed to a quick one from a tram stop or station… but I’m not sure overall and what the cultures of away games were like… it is easier now though to get to games in Melbourne.

                As far as the outdoors thing goes it’s not about spectacularity or potency or friendliness. It’s about the culture that develops about doing things of a weekend. In Melbourne a culture has developed that is very footy-focussed. In Sydney it hasn’t so much, and I wonder if that is to do with the ease of access to bushland and/or the water and the effect of this in the longterm. So night games etc are immaterial because games all used to take place in the arvo – this was the culture. And the culture of the town was also that if you were rich you might trot along to the union and wouldn’t be caught dead at the league and so on. But you might also take the yacht out… and if you weren’t on that side of society you might go shooting or fishing instead which could also be done with almost as little effort as going to the football.

                I am only too aware i’m talking out of my posterior on this point 😆 but I do think there’s a different culture and this has happened because of the circumstances of each city.

              • August 22nd 2013 @ 2:36pm
                Australian Rules said | August 22nd 2013 @ 2:36pm | ! Report

                It’s actually not a Melb v Syd thing.

                I agree that there’s historical and cultural differences between Melb and Syd with respect to attending live sport. The Mexicans will turn up week in week out, all through winter, no matter what.

                Transport is also another factor, though I think it’s overplayed in Sydney…most folk down in Melbourne are travelling over 1 hour door to door to attend their games.

                But the overarching point is that (for eg) in Brisbane and Perth, there is a greater turn-out for sport AND cultural events (per capita) than what there is in Sydney. To suggest that Sydney-folk are bushwalking or enjoying the beach more than those in WA or QLD is a bit silly, though I don’t doubt that most Sydney-siders might see themselves that way.
                I think the more accurate picture is that there is a greater culture of “stay in to watch telly” in Sydney than elsewhere. I don’t mean that as a slur, but that is what the figures suggest…both in terms of sport attendance vs tv ratings.

                And I also think the fact that most Sydney sporting events are night matches completely debunks the “everybody’s out bushwalking and sailing” argument…but no matter.

                There’s been interesting studies done on sport attendance in “colder” cities vs “warmer” cities. So there may be something in that. Worth checking out…don’t have a link for you unfort.


              • August 22nd 2013 @ 3:55pm
                clipper said | August 22nd 2013 @ 3:55pm | ! Report

                I think ciudadmarron is on to something here. Melbourne has been focused on AFL throughout the city and demographics. Sydney, on the other hand, has always had different areas were a number of sports have been popular. Rugby has always been big in the east and north, Aussie Rules has also become a major contender in those areas and Soccer is gaining on the support it had out west.
                The top AFL sides have never had any codes get anywhere near them in average attendance in Melbourne, whereas in Sydney the Swans have been number 1 for a number of years and the Warratahs when going well, and now the Wanderers in the future will rival the top averages.

              • August 22nd 2013 @ 11:02pm
                ciudadmarron said | August 22nd 2013 @ 11:02pm | ! Report

                don’t mean to labour the point AR but it’s not about now, it’s about a historical cultural trend. if, in the distant past, more people went boating or shooting or whatever else instead of sport for one reason or another, a strong culture of attending live sport did not develop and this, perhaps, has left a legacy. the legacy is that sydneysiders don’t attend live sport as much. so these days they stay in.

              • August 23rd 2013 @ 8:54am
                mushi said | August 23rd 2013 @ 8:54am | ! Report

                AR – they could be out at pubs or restaurants?

    • Roar Guru

      August 21st 2013 @ 9:12am
      Charlie Drayton said | August 21st 2013 @ 9:12am | ! Report

      It’s always a big ask fronting the cold and nursing a half-strength beer on a plastic seat but something needs to change because diminishing crowd numbers are on of the biggest problems with Australian sport. The Bledisloe opener only got just over 68,000.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 9:22am
        Kasey said | August 21st 2013 @ 9:22am | ! Report

        Bledisloe…could it be the exobitant ticket prices (probably understandable give Rugby’s support base) and the fact we kind of suck at Rugby in recent times?

        • August 21st 2013 @ 9:33am
          Johnno said | August 21st 2013 @ 9:33am | ! Report

          We suck Kasey, just like the Olyroos and Adelaide United, no one’s listening or watching, like those 2 teams, the wallabies and OZ rugby are in crisis. Now are lowest rugby ranking in year to no 4.

          • August 21st 2013 @ 10:49am
            Will Sinclair said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:49am | ! Report

            I’m not sure we suck, mate.

            In fact, I’d back us to beat any rugby nation in the world at home… except for one, of course…

      • August 21st 2013 @ 9:26am
        ciudadmarron said | August 21st 2013 @ 9:26am | ! Report

        Possibly a rugby issue?
        Attendences are on the incline in the other codes for the most part.

        • August 21st 2013 @ 9:37am
          Kasey said | August 21st 2013 @ 9:37am | ! Report

          Thx Ciudadmarron:
          your comment is a much nicer way of phrasing my comment above re: our Wallabies not being very good at the moment. 🙂

          • August 21st 2013 @ 9:51am
            ciudadmarron said | August 21st 2013 @ 9:51am | ! Report

            Yeah but the Lions tour was sold out wasn’t it? I was getting more at other rugby issues… It’s an odd one at any rate.

            • August 21st 2013 @ 9:56am
              Jonathon Momsen said | August 21st 2013 @ 9:56am | ! Report

              A Lions tour was a different beast. A rare occasion mixed with the hope we still had left in our current Wallabies outfit. If it came around all of the time (like the Bledisloe) we would have seen the same sort of numbers there.

              • August 21st 2013 @ 10:12am
                Johnno said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:12am | ! Report

                Lion’s tour was travellers and ex-pat’s, far more at the tests than white bogan middle class demogpraphics. Sea of red.

        • August 21st 2013 @ 3:31pm
          Bring Back the Bears said | August 21st 2013 @ 3:31pm | ! Report

          I don’t think it’s solely to do with the Wallabies performance. I went to the Bledisloe on Saturday and for a big part of the game the stadium was like a library and the kiwi fans were the only ones making noise.

          Australian rugby has no active fan culture anymore, until that changes people aren’t going to see the benefit of spending top dollar to go to live matches.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 10:48am
        Will Sinclair said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:48am | ! Report

        I think the crowd on Saturday was down because of the Lions Tour.

        The wife and I two went to two Lions Tests – that’s $1,200 in tickets alone, without mentioning the flights, accomodation etc in Brisbane, and the food, drink etc at the Sydney game.

        So our rugby budget for the year was well and truly maxxed out.

        And I think there would have been plenty of rugby fans in the same boat.

    • August 21st 2013 @ 9:19am
      Swampy said | August 21st 2013 @ 9:19am | ! Report

      1. The ride to the game. Apologies you can’t drive your C250 up to your seat at the stadium. I’m sorry there is no machine that can port you from your house directly to your seat in a matter of seconds (so you can leave your home 5 secs before kickoff and arrive in time to see the actual kickoff).

      For my young kids, the train trip in and walk to the stadium is as exciting a part of the experience as the game itself. They love feeling part of a big event, being seen with others in the clan colours on the way in. The closer you get to the stadium, the clan numbers increasing exponentially builds excitement for the contest ahead. I quite enjoy it myself.

      2. Security: Sorry if someone needs to look inside your bag to make sure you haven’t packed it full of TNT. How inconsiderate that they delay you to your seat when you planned to arrive 5 minutes before kick-off and be seated for kick-off. Perhaps consider leaving home 5 minutes earlier.

      3. Beer queues: if you feel the need to be drunk at the match, maybe do as you did as a 17 year old and down a half bottle of southern comfort before you get to the stadium. Not only warm you up on a cold day but also tremendous value for money. Perhaps organise to meet your mates at a bar near the stadium before the match for a couple if quick shots. I also know at Etihad Stadium there is a service that you can order beer and snacks online and they deliver to your seat (in quick time) – no queuing with the plebs necessary.

      4. Food at the Stadium: Everyone knows how expensive food is at the stadium. There is no prohibition on taking your own snacks in from home. Just requires some prior preparation. If you get drunk enough before the match it is likely you won’t feel that hungry anyway until after the match where the kebab guy outside the stadium will satisfy your every craving.

      5. Bars closed after match: I can’t comment on Sydney (homebush) but every city I’ve ever been to a match in generally has a couple of bars open post match. Bars tend to be open later than 10:30pm – even in sleepy old Brisbane. In Melbourne, most bars really only get going at midnight.

      That’s just my matchday view anyway. I love it.

      Comment from The Roar’s iPhone app.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 9:48am
        Jonathon Momsen said | August 21st 2013 @ 9:48am | ! Report

        Sydney Football Stadium and the SCG have some of the best bar facilities outside of the stadium. Fox Studios just around the corner and the Captain Cook Hotel just up the road. Perfect for before or after the footy. Then there’s the Bat and Ball just up on the next block, where the atmosphere of Test match cricket begins to sprawl out into the rest of Sydney.

        • August 23rd 2013 @ 8:56am
          mushi said | August 23rd 2013 @ 8:56am | ! Report

          Walk past the Captain Cook and on to Taphouse. the only down side is that the beer at the stadium is almost unbearable afterwards

      • August 21st 2013 @ 9:56am
        ciudadmarron said | August 21st 2013 @ 9:56am | ! Report

        I agree with your “toughen up princess” message swampy but a couple of things:

        Bag checks are less to do with security and more to do with ensuring you are not bringing in anything that will prevent you from buying exhorbitantly priced stadium drinks. You can’t take in bottled water apparently because they can be used as missiles…. coins on the other hand, no problem there. It’s ridiculous. And I have had food items refused in the past as well.

        Bars – easy in most places, but not at the Olympic stadium.

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