To accept reality is to accept that most punters just want to watch elite cricket – and often only if their team is winning.
Most punters don’t want to hear, let alone know, the details of pay disputes, commercial contracts or constitutions. They know there is heaps of money and they assume decent people everywhere make sure the game is looked after – from grassroots to the baggy green, everyone is looked after and happy.
But this is where their assumptions are wrong.
The growth and success of a sport is derived from millions of volunteer hours. From kids teams’ coaches to the committees that organise each club, the boards that manage and grow the districts and the development squad volunteers that help hone potential into actual talent.
Let’s not forget the sponsors of the grassroots who rarely receive any commercial return but contribute year after year for their love of the game and to fill the funding gap.
As seen in other sports, we now have a situation where the incumbents-of-the-day are seeking to retain more and more of the profits the game generates at the expense of the grassroots that created the sport’s success.
Over the past 25 years, we have seen most popular sports in Australia transition from a bottom-up “sports association” model to a top-only “commercial ownership” model – often to the detriment of the grassroots sport.
The 1990s creation of the V8 Supercars company destroyed the governing body, CAMS, effectively stealing decades of work to keep most of the profits of the sport in a handful of families – now into their second generation of not-so-good drivers – and crippling the grassroots motorsport formulas almost to the point of extinction.
Rugby, rugby league and soccer all now return nothing to their grassroots despite billions of dollars being generated – and it hasn’t improved the elite game either.
The situation is so bad in these sports that kids’ rego fees actually flow upwards to help fund game management! The theft of netball revenue is now also underway.
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The grassroots are neglected in these other sports. Cricket and AFL currently stand alone in their visible support for junior development thanks to the ‘top-heavy bureaucracy’ the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) players so much despise.
Perhaps due to the early identification of sporting talent in Australia and the avoidance of learning life’s lessons while young, it is becoming the norm for ungrateful, selfish and disrespectful sportsmen and women to want not just the on-field opportunity and success, but also to live an enduring life of luxury on the back of it.
Message to players; you didn’t create cricket’s success.
We did, but we enjoy watching you play our game and glad you’re enjoying it, too. If you’re a good enough individual player and the crowds come just to see you play – then possibly you may make a lifelong career out of our sport. But legends are rare so enjoy it while you can and remember – it’s just a game.
So it’s time to decide who gets the money – the players who make it to the top on the back of millions of volunteer hours, or the game of cricket that created the players’ success and which will create their successor’s as well.
I know who deserves it – but unfortunately, I can see the players will get it anyway.