Sports fans and, more specifically, administrators learned a valuable lesson this week - that a whacky, social media-inspired contest can capture the world's imagination.

Exhibit A: Conor McGregor v Floyd Mayweather. Boxing purists, who lamented McGregor bastardising the sweet science by entering the ring against the self-proclaimed "best ever", failed to understand the unrivalled coverage - good and bad - the cross-code bout gave the sport.

It smashed pay-per-view records in the United States and garnered more interest in New Zealand than the dramatic second Bledisloe Cup test the night before.

Why? Because it was different ... and different is what attracts fans who don't consider themselves diehards.


Sport alone is no longer enough, as evidenced by declining crowd numbers and TV ratings across so many codes.

If administrators want bums on seats, they must gain traction in previously untapped markets and one way is by making entertainment the top priority.

That's what Australia's T20 Big Bash League did. The word "cricket" isn't mentioned in its marketing - and now 42 percent of fans at grounds are female and 20 percent have never previously been to a cricket match.

The crucial stat from England's first foray into pink-ball tests against the West Indies last month was that 40 percent of the 70,000 that attended were at their first five-day match.

Expect New Zealand Cricket to roll out all sorts of left-field concepts to draw in punters outside of the purists, when Eden Park hosts our first day-nighter next year.

For many of us, live sport is a great passion, but it has become as predictable as a disappointing Warriors season and people want more bang for their hard-earned buck.

Some might say the concept of "sportainment" ruins all that is pure about sport.

I say we're merely moving with the times.


Cheika's "straight-cut sandwiches"

Alex McRae, a Kiwi living in Australia, sparked a war of words on my Facebook page this week with an open letter to Michael Cheika, after the Wallabies coach's most recent post-match whinge.

Cheika unloaded at match officials, after his team's last-gasp loss in Dunedin, triggering this response from McRae: "Stop acting like a petulant child. You're a national coach, not a four-year-old whose mum cut his sandwiches straight instead of in triangles.

"Stop making excuses and having a whinge every time you think something has not gone your way.

"The amount of times you jump up and down in the coaches' box is embarrassing. Have a look at how Steve Hansen conducts himself.

"If this was [the TV show] Suits, you are Louis and Steve is Harvey. You love him, hate him and want to be him all at once. Chill out, bro."


Food for thought

1. Should Sanzaar have sanctioned Michael Cheika for suggesting the result of last weekend's test was "pre-scripted for the All Blacks to lift the trophy on home soil"?

2. Is this the most underwhelming US Open on record, with no Serena Williams and the men's field missing a host of stars? And we have to endure the return of scream queen Maria Sharapova.

3. Did you ever think this day would come? After their historic 20-run victory in the first test in Dhaka, Bangladesh need only draw the second in Chittagong to take the series - and ensure Australia drop to sixth in the test rankings.