Editorial office: Access to sport is something Aussies can rival the Poms in lamenting


Poor Poms are generally cataloged as the best at whining.

And probably for good reason.

You may or may not have seen in the news this week that the UK recorded its hottest temperature on record in a heatwave that locals seem to think is heralding the end of days.

So what was the record temperature? 40.3C. It was the first time they had crossed the 40C barrier.

Cue the moans of hardened, sunburned Aussies. In our part of the world, 40.3C is a normal summer day. What about Geraldton’s Christmas Day scorcher last year of 47C, or the 50.7C recorded at Onslow earlier this year?

But defending the precious Poms for a minute here, most people – no matter where they’re from – are good at complaining about something, as long as they care enough about it.

In Australia, we complain freely and frequently about anything sporting.

We are all lounge critics even though the majority of us haven’t played any sports beyond our school years. Which team or athlete we love to hate, which results we disagree with, how many decisions the referees got wrong, and confusion and controversy over rule changes, to name a few.

But in one case, we have the right to whine, rant and rave.

This week it emerged that the next broadcast deal for the AFL could see fans in Perth and Adelaide paying to watch their teams at home, rather than free-to-air. That could give Foxtel, majority-owned by News Corp, a bigger, if not exclusive, slice of the pie.

It rightly sparked an outcry, with most people – ordinary fans, media commentators, coaches and club bosses – all calling for these games to remain on free-to-air television.

The potential move was branded ‘unAustralian’ and a breach of a ‘human right’.

No, we’re not talking war crimes here, but the very essence of sports – even though it’s a multi-billion dollar industry these days – comes down to one thing – the fans.

The fans are the ones who fill the stadiums, who pay for subscriptions, pay TV or streaming services if they can afford it, who decide the ratings, who buy the merchandise.

You get where I’m coming from. The sports business would be nothing without the fans, so why shouldn’t something be sacrosanct for the fans?

And top of that list should be watching your favorite team in the clear.

To take away that right would be to give a big slap in the face to a large chunk of fans and give them a good reason to switch off.

Before this problem threatens to boil over, I really hope that common sense and a cool head will prevail.

It would be such a shame not to see any Eagles or Dockers games shown on free-to-air TV in the future, especially in the current climate where cost of living pressures mean for many households that luxuries such as Foxtel or Kayo don’t simply cannot be squeezed into the tight budget.

To complain.


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