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Andrew Alderson: Off-water attitudes lack taste

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Surely it's no shame to acknowledge Oracle's genius where it's warranted. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Surely it's no shame to acknowledge Oracle's genius where it's warranted. Photo / Brett Phibbs

A Kiwi-cringe factor has encroached on what has been an outstanding sporting contest at the America's Cup.

The reaction to yesterday's result reminded one of spoilt children should Santa fail to meet demands. Emirates Team New Zealand could well win the Cup this morning but a sense of entitlement and frustration is seeping through media and fans that because ETNZ have won eight races, they deserve the Cup, as of right. It is not helped when yesterday's race was branded a farce and a joke in some quarters, because the rules were enacted correctly to make race one void after 40 minutes.

Such subjectivity, including reporting which contains the use of the royal "we", needs to be tempered.

One speculates what the reaction would have been had ETNZ been behind at the 40-minute mark. Broadcasting is a difficult business and New Zealanders are notorious for engaging in bouts of telly envy but more dispassionate analysis rather than wails of disappointment after each ETNZ loss would be appreciated.

Surely it's no shame to acknowledge Oracle's genius where it's warranted. However, sympathy lies with those fronting the coverage. Presumably they're under a directive that blind nationalism sells.

The majority of New Zealanders have the pom-poms out supporting a team of predominantly Kiwis in an event which is as much about corporatism as nationalism.

The clue for starters is in the team name - Emirates Team New Zealand - as well as the numerous conglomerates sponsoring the boat.

New Zealanders sail on other boats (like Oracle) in the Formula One of sailing but there is no similar support for them. That is the power of the (Emirates) Team New Zealand brand. The true benefit if the Auld Mug returns to New Zealand will be the boost to infrastructure and employment heading into the next regatta.

Yet somehow it's a treasonous offence if you're not fist-pumping, flag-waving or investing in red socks. You're not a 'real' New Zealander.

Can we not remove some of the emotion and celebrate the contest? The sportsmanship shown by the Grant Dalton-led, Dean Barker-skippered crew has been impeccable.

Dalton also deserves kudos for selling a stadium-of-four-million type vision which secured the necessary taxpayer funding, as well as that of corporate sponsors.

It's enabled his campaign to compete against Larry Ellison's millions. Nonetheless the reality is that a win, to paraphrase the words of sailing commentary great Peter Montgomery, will mean the America's Cup is now Emirates Team New Zealand's Cup not New Zealand's Cup.

- Herald on Sunday

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Covers sport across NZME's print, digital and radio brands.

Andrew writes and broadcasts on cricket and the Olympic disciplines for NZME's print, digital, video and radio platforms. His most recent project followed New Zealand sportspeople competing in Europe during the 2015 northern summer. He has attended four cricket World Cups, three Olympics and regularly works as a correspondent overseas.

Read more by Andrew Alderson

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