ANY GIVEN MONDAY
Worked with a bloke once, an "avuncular uncle" type character at his best at the head of a long table sagging under the weight of food and red wine.
He was a gifted raconteur; never failed to raise a laugh.
He was also as keen as anybody for an office debate on the sporting controversies of the day. Generally he would take "conservative" positions. When his arguments were met with factually stronger counter-arguments, he would shut the discourse down with his pet phrase: "I'm just saying it's not a great look."
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Although he would never have used the word, what he was talking about was what is now popularly termed optics and they just happen to be the most dominant metric in New Zealand sport.
Nowhere was the optics more damning than the absence of Black Caps' coach Gary Stead after eight losses on the bounce.
Former skipper turned commentator Jeremy Coney led the chorus of howls. In a dramatic monologue that contained some well-made points while also veering dangerously close to in-my-dayism, he noted: "Would you call it desertion or would you just say it's really bad look, fellas?"
Well, given that it's a planned week off that all the key figures involved in New Zealand Cricket knew about, it's clearly not desertion. That only leaves the "bad look" option.
The big problem was, when the outrage broke, there was no good optics left for New Zealand Cricket to pursue.
Paul Lewis: The real message Gary Stead sent with holiday
Black Caps' coach Gary Stead's puzzling absence
Phil Gifford: Proof that the Black Caps don't need Gary Stead
Reverse course and they would have looked weak (and also would have been going against every sensible research that suggests that regular breaks are vital for long-term health and wellbeing when you're in high-pressure, high-performance environments).
Stay the course and they position themselves as contemptuous of public opinion and out of touch with their fans.
"The use of optics characterises a situation in which a person or organisation worries about the public perception of a decision more than the substance of the decision itself," the Macmillan Dictionary states.
As the pile-on against Stead grew to uncomfortable levels, NZC deserve some credit for doubling down on their justification for Stead's absence, for ignoring the optics, even if it rang a bit hollow * .
As for Stead, without having any idea where he holidays, the worst look probably came from the fact New Zealand won a game for the first time since November while he was enjoying a Canterbury Draught out the back of Windwhistle.
The country's other major summer code, rugby, is also battling bad optics on multiple fronts.
While punters have grown to become shoulder-shruggers at the absence of All Blacks in Super Rugby, many felt a picture of the Blues superstar recruit Beauden Barrett dressed in a Kansas City Chiefs jersey at Super bowl LIV while his new team got pushed around by the other Chiefs was, well… a bad look.
That's small beer however compared to the bad look for Sanzaar that keeps infiltrating our screens when we see scarcely populated stadia hosting matches.
If you're trying to sell a competition to an increasingly sceptical public, the first thing you've got to do is get them in the ground. If it wasn't obvious by now, playing Super Rugby in big stadiums is the epitome of wishful thinking.
Those stands full of empty seats are a literal bad look.
The Highlanders played the Sharks at Forsyth Barr, a stadium with a capacity of 30,500, and attracted what was euphemistically described as less than 10,000 paying fans.
The 25,800-seat Waikato Stadium played host to the match of the round as the Chiefs welcomed the Crusaders to the Tron, and a mind-bogglingly meagre crowd of 13,600 showed up.
Those crowds were a crush, however, compared to what went on over the Tassie.
Just 7000 lost souls watched the Brumbies beat the Rebels in a derby; while the Waratahs could take solace in the fact just 7500 were on hand to witness their thumping at the hands of the Blues at Newcastle.
It was the first time the Tahs had failed to reach five figures for a home game.
Super Rugby might not be dead, but it looks like it's on life support.
Me and my old colleague would even agree that's not a great look.
* For what it's worth, which is ultimately not much, Stead's break was a bad idea for cricketing reasons. Stead is clearly not coaching or selecting particularly well over the past couple of months and needed to remain in the saddle as the team looked to restore confidence. There were genuine cricket reasons for questioning this move – it being a bad look was not one of them.
Tim Southee is a cricketer who has endured more "not a great look" tut-tuts during his career than he has probably deserved, particularly when he's bowling the final over of a limited-overs fixture or holing out in the deep during test matches.
The truth is he's compiled a fine career for his country across formats and his performance on Saturday might be the most admirable of the lot.
Battling illness, Southee not only fronted up to play India at Eden Park, but turned in a better-than-his-figures-suggest 2-41 off his 10 overs.
Southee's spell was highlighted by a peach of a delivery that worked its way through Virat Kohli's gate but he was superb throughout, despite needing to leave the park more than once to expel the contents of his rebellious stomach.
The circumstances were not ideal, but it should also be a blueprint for the final chapters of his limited-overs career. Southee does not have the bold-type variations or pace to be a death bowler now. That's been proven time and again recently.
His role on Saturday was the perfect match for his skillset: swing the new ball and then come back for a long spell as a middle-overs stopper.
He can spend the death overs being a sounding board for the skipper and fielding superbly, as he always does.
THE MONDAY LONG READ ...
One of the most divisive figures in basketball history, Bobby Knight, reconciled with the programme that made him famous after a bitter 20-year separation .
It's a convenient prop to re-hit this piece by the late, great Frank Deford, a story many judges consider the high-water mark of profile writing .