Malcolm Boyle: Power brokers subjective list

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Steve Tew.  Photo / NZPA
Steve Tew. Photo / NZPA

Interesting to read this week the New Zealand Herald list of the 25 biggest power brokers in sport. Such contrivances are naturally subjective and almost as interesting for whom they leave out rather than who makes the cut.

A couple of observations: As with most such finger-in-the-air soundings, rugby league is a game woefully misrepresented.

Businessman Sir Owen Glenn gets a nod at No17 but his inclusion comes at a time when he has only just climbed on to the rugby league bandwagon with the Warriors and has had no time to show the power he can wield.

The recent acquisition of Mathew Elliott as Warriors' coach is still very much in the 'wait and see' category, and is being watched with interest as the organisation itself has grown into a $20 million business now producing merchandising numbers which are the envy of rival codes and other sports.

Sales of NRL club shorts are booming as fashion wear for young mainly female supporters - the club has now become a 'sexy' brand.

Cricket appears to have got off lightly from its troubles around the Ross Taylor sacking issue but one has the feeling that, notwithstanding the one-day success against South Africa, there is still a lot that has to be mended.

If nothing else, the list confirms there is a multitude of bureaucracy in New Zealand sport. Do we really need to have politicians so consumed with playing a hand in restructuring and rebuilding in the sports sector?

Close observers of sports politics and issues may also feel that several influencers continue to work effectively in this area though their profiles may not be quite as strong as previously.

Sports broadcaster Murray Deaker, whose public presence seems to have diminished somewhat, is one who still works among many sports and sportspeople (particularly those in trouble).

Steve Tew deserves his nomination as New Zealand sport's top power broker. He has developed into a cool, thoughtful and effective presence for our national game and looks ready to lead his organisation into the next Rugby World Cup.

The power list also confirms just how times have changed in the administration of modern sport. Back in the 'bad old days' administrators were selected from whoever stayed longest after their kid's training, stacking the chairs or making the tea and asparagus rolls. Quality was never a commodity that could be purchased, so the best was made of what you could get.

In my old league club, this produced some memorable outcomes. One member was a qualified electrician and was co-opted to fix the clubhouse clock which hadn't operated for a number of years.

He tackled the job diligently before packing up and heading for the bar. Observers were mightily impressed until they realised the clock had been wired to operate backwards and it stayed that way for some time.

The club also 'employed' an enthusiastic Scotsman as a gear manager and one day before a match, I was on a massage table when he walked past noting what he thought was a large clump of mud on my back which he then tried to remove.

By the time the Scotsman had realised he was trying to extricate a large hairy mole that wasn't to be shifted, I had hit the roof and returned to the table with a shriek.

They were never power brokers as such but willing hands who received little more than the odd free beer and a slap on the back for their efforts - and that was good enough for us all.

- Herald on Sunday

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