What’s the hurry, sport?

Image by Hans Georg Fischer
Image by Hans Georg Fischer

OK, I’ll admit I’m a late adopter. If there’s a new gadget on the market, I’ll get it about three years after everyone else. I’ll embrace a fashion trend just as the hipsters are sending it to the charity bins.

And it’s taken this sports devotee twelve years to appreciate the merits of T20 cricket.

T20, of course, is the short version of the short version of the gentleman’s game, introduced when even the one-day format, a fraction the length of its Test cousin, was considered too long for fidgety fans.

It’s the short version twice removed, if you like, Test cricket’s runty second cousin, diminutive but brash and the life of the party.

Now it seems every sport is getting in on the quickie.

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Last week, Aussie fans got their first taste of Fast4 tennis, complete with a DJ and Rafael Nadal’s disco-inspired outfit in case boredom should set in among the crowd between points.

The world’s top golfer Rory McIlroy reckons there should be a faster form of his favourite game — as a friend of mine quipped: “What, like putt-putt? — because people don’t have time to spend six hours on a golf course anymore. Apart from professionals, that is.

Five-time snooker world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan wants to bring in power snooker, complete with shot clocks and bonus balls, to get the audience more involved and ‘capture that darts kind of vibe’. Yes, that’s what’s been missing from my life, that darts kind of vibe.

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There’s even talk of shortening the Tour de France. Presumably because it’s too bloody hard to do three thousand clicks drug-free.

Now, I get that we’re all time poor and have the attention span of ferrets these days. And yes, there are some sports that could use a hurry up. Like lawn bowls. Curling. And breaststroke. Fast synchronised swimming would be hilarious.

But is it really a good idea to pander to our treadmill existence? Is it wise to feed our addiction to instant gratification?

Car maker Henry Ford once famously said: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

Maybe in our sports spectatorship, we should be steered away from our natural tendencies as well. Perhaps we should be told: “Look mate, how about you take five days out, slow roasting in the sun like a rotisserie chook, drinking beer and watching cricket?”

Choose your meditation
Choose your meditation

It’d be good for us. It would calm us in a more interesting way than sitting in the Lotus position saying ohm. It would reacquaint us with a time when life wasn’t so frenetic. Best of all, we would be spared the Channel Nine commentary team’s pizza insights.

Because if we keep going down our current track, where does it end? Will we get to the point where we say: “Are you kidding? I don’t have 10 seconds to watch a running race. Can’t they do it over fifty metres?”

And before we know it, in our everyday lives there’ll be fast food, power naps and short films. Seven-minute workouts. Two-minute noodles. Ninety-second rice. Speed dating. Crash courses. Fast forward. Quickie sex.

Then where would we be?

6 Comments Add yours

  1. I think that underlying all this is the fact that sporting excitement for spectators is directly proportional to the stakes, the time taken to achieve victory and the lateness in the contest that it is achieved. A last ball winner in T20 will happen more frequently than in Tests, but when it *does* happen in a Test it’s amazing. A close grand final in any football code offers both a meaningful stake and the culmination of a long season.

    Fast4tennis fails because it has no stake, no build-up and fails even to provide novelty. At least T20 forces a change in tactics – this is just regular tennis with different scoring. How about each game as first to 6, with 2 points for a rally ending in a “winner” and only 1 for an error? Try *something* to make it new.

    So, yes, I agree – let us have some extended sports, please. They provide enjoyment in a way that shorter sports simply cannot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. kazblah says:

      Yes, Fast4 at this stage is really just an exhibition game. You’re right. It’s all about the stakes. For the spectators too – I love the endurance factor of watching a good 5-setter!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Interesting additional point re tennis: I was obsessed as a youngster, pretty much watched the entire Australian Open every summer. With the increased length of men’s matches, how many younger fans actually get to see the end of the men’s final (or any men’s matches)? I don’t begrudge the length of the matches, but I need sleep, too!

        Interesting additional point re T20: they are quite cleverly re-appropriating everything about baseball that is popular in the US. The crowd interaction, long-hitting contest, nightly games, three-hour length. I can see why it’s a hit. Even as a pretty hardcore baseball fan, I do like T20 – not because of the hype, but simply because it is a high quality contest, and a test of some fairly specific cricket skills. I do also enjoy that it’s an eight-team league – two-team test series or the quickly forgettable one-day series leave me a little lukewarm. @idlesummers, however, has a Test Cricket world championship plan which kept me awake after reading.

        I think I have strayed from the point – nice piece! Always a pleasure to read.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. kazblah says:

        You haven’t strayed at all. Always appreciate your comments. They’re always considered and often provide a perspective I hadn’t thought of.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thanks! In my haste I forgot to state that the men’s final used to start at 1:30pm or so. As a kid I would totally have watched a 6-hour match starting at that time (too bad about Channel 7 news schedule, though).

        Liked by 1 person

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