Sports things I hope die in 2018...and a special award.
1) Cricket in general
Quick, hand me a spade. This overrated sport needs to be buried. The West Indies tour has been dire, dire, dire. Cricket has crossed a bad line.
Take cricket and shove it where the sun doesn't shine, which often happens when there is a big cricket match scheduled in this country. Mind you — there aren't many big games on in this country.
ICC stands for In-house Cricket Cartel. Even way back, the Aussies treated New Zealand like s!@#, putting up B teams.
Right now, everyone is supposedly gushing over an Ashes series which is about as competitive as China playing New Zealand in ping pong. New Zealand would give Steve Smith's Australia a much better contest than wimpy England have.
But just because somebody burnt a bit of wood and put it in an urn thousands of years ago, England and Australia play each other almost continuously. Time to move on, people.
As for England...world cricket leaders? There are shopping mall Santas with more fight in them. New Zealand, often ignored as a trans-Tasman rival, hosts a West Indian team whose only famous player has done as much tweeting as playing.
There's another matter.
It's a long time since I went anywhere near a cricket club, but judging by the national team, the sport is still a white man's playground. Does cricket need an overhaul?
For what it returns, cricket deserves to be stripped of large chunks of real estate, with the land handed over to softball, bull rush, BBQ areas, people who like to dress up as King Arthur and metal detector clubs.
2) Super Rugby
Sorry, but anyone who likes Super Rugby hasn't got a clue. Get a passport. Take a trip. Go and see some real professional sport. We should be boycotting this nonsense.
3) The Wellington Phoenix
I'd line up for that funeral, not that anyone lines up for the Phoenix anymore. (They could paint the pews many colours and the church would still look empty). The biggest crowd at a Phoenix game is on the team bus. There are more spectators at cricket games, in Rangiora. The Yellow Fever should be re-named the Yellow Slight Sniffle. The Phoenix make any football fan want to sob uncontrollably. That club doesn't need to exist anymore.
4) Sky TV
It has to go. I'll make this personal. At the moment, I pay $88 a month to watch virtually nothing on Sky, so as not to miss out on the few sports things which are unmissable.
Many of the things both sporting and otherwise that I would watch (eg. the English Premier League) are conveniently (for Sky) placed on channels which cost extra. And I'm sick of paying extra when the basic "service" is so expensive and contains hardly anything remotely attractive.
At times, I've actually watched the Kardashians re-stock their linen cupboard and collect the mail, in order to feel I'm getting some value out of Sky. I've even taken to watching lots of old westerns for the same reason, although it is also fun to try and work out if there is any difference between any of the cowboys.
Okay, that takes care of Sky. In the other corner is Netflix, which serves up brilliant drama and comes free at the moment with a phone deal. In other words, Sky and its avalanche of loud, crass self-advertising is actually turning me off sport, and towards drama.
Which, as it turns out, is no bad thing. At 50-plus, I've watched more than enough sport to last a lifetime already. When there is nothing on Netflix, I go outside and bash nails into wood, which is more invigorating than listening to Melodie Robinson say over and over and over and over again that Sky loves me.
SPECIAL SUMMER AWARDS
The hills are alive...
While venting (above) and getting ready to take a swing at the New Zealand Golf Open, a thought arrived. The New Zealand Golf Open might have lost lustre over the years, but it actually deserves supporting.
It is a bit wacky, being staffed by 450 volunteers on two courses. One volunteer gets to play, in the Pro-Am. Wacky is okay in this case.
One of the golf courses belongs to jeweller (to put it mildly) Michael Hill, who also runs a well-respected violin competition. He has wide interests.
Michael Hill started off in Whangarei when I was starting off in Whangarei. It all began for him with snazzy window displays, which were quite easy to achieve because a lot of shop window displays back then looked like they started life as a kids bedroom. Shop Window Dresser of the Year could have been won by a two-week old puppy.
Michael Hill is now a big part of golf's shop window. And as kooky as it is, the NZ Open is very NiZulind. And what's wrong with that? We are so conditioned to chasing world superstars all over our TV screens, that we've lost the homegrown feel.
You have to admire people who keep something like the NZ Open battling along, against a lot of odds you would suspect. The 99th NZ Open is played in early March, at The Hills and Millbrook.
Korean legend KJ Choi lines up with Kiwis Michael Hendry, Ryan Fox, Tim Wilkinson, Steven Alker...Sky should send one camera to a cricket test, and flood the NZ Open with coverage. Why not?
January's ASB Classic men's tournament has attracted five of the world's top 20 tennis players, with the direct entries all inside the top 61. Random circumstances can dictate who is available. Whatever, to get a field of that quality is absolutely staggering.