AFL umpires and runners

Well lo and behold the first round of AFL football has gone and the umpires wore the same colour in each match – bright green. And the AFL team runners had switched to bright orange.

That sounds familiar, yes for at least 2 years the VFL has had umpires in bright orange and team runners in bright green (as runners have been in the AFL for as long as I can remember)

In the years since white was deemed not right for umpires we have had constant changes of colours for umpires and suffered through the occasional poorly thought out choices of AFL umpire apparel which have lead to player confusion about who was a team mate and who was an umpire.

Two cases in point spring to mind. Umpires in yellow shirts and black shorts for a Sydney v Hawthorn game and umpires in pink shirts with black shorts for a Melbourne game where the Dees were wearing jumpers with pink yolks to support breast cancer and navy shorts. These are example where umpires NOT wearing white lead to more confusion, and if the umpires had been attired like VFL umpires there would have been no issue.

Every colour under the sun was tried by the AFL umpires and changed form game to game but the answer was right in front of the AFL in the little regarded VFL.

How many years did that take?

Sport on Digital TV

I’m not sure when the rest of the world stopped doing delayed coverage of sporting events but Australian free to air TV networks seem to be very reluctant to give it up. Then they have the temerity to ask sports fans to ‘Keep Sport Free.’ Hmmm, that slogan really should be changed to ‘Keep Sport Free so we can delay it, drag it out, piss you off and maximise our advertising returns’ Catchy!

Delayed coverage is an issue with Federal government anti-siphoning laws – laws which guarantee certain culturally significant/iconic sporting events are on free to air TV. As part of these laws the networks are not allowed to show events on the anti-siphoning list on their digital channel before it has been shown on their main channel.

However instances of the anti-siphoning laws being relaxed, and sport being shown first time on digital channels are commonplace.

SBS was allowed to show one of the final group stage games of the 2010 World Cup on SBS2. The final two games in each group are played simultaneously so this was a victory for live coverage and common sense over delayed coverage only.

Nine’s coverage of the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand was abysmal until the quarter final stage when they covered matches on GEM to avoid time zone issues that saw matches starting as the 6:00pm News began on Channel Nine. Hats off to Nine for this common sense approach.

One of the most irritating things for cricket fans – missing play as Nine went to News and ACA – is now a thing of the past as GEM carries the cricket while Nine is at the News. Great for cricket followers and I’m very happy that cricket will no longer be lost due to important stories about dodgy washing machine repair men making our kids fat, but why did it take until the third test of the summer for this to happen? Nine blamed delays in getting approval for changing the anti-siphoning laws.

I was convinced when I heard about digital TV it must have been invented by a League or AFL fan living interstate. Finally long suffering Rugby League fans in Victoria will get the 2 x NRL Friday Night Football games on GEM at the same time they are broadcast in NSW & QLD. One live at 7:30pm, one on delay at 9:30pm. Then if you missed any of that thanks to the anti-siphoning laws you can watch both games again on Nine from 11:30pm – Brilliant!

So in 2012, given this list of examples of the laws being relaxed, it’s time for the anti-siphoning laws restriction on first time sport on digital channels to be removed. If you are sports fan, digital tv is finally becoming the friend it should have been from the moment it was introduced. And if you don’t have digital tv I would like to know which rock you have been living under.

Channel 7 football coverage 2006 – 2011

With the toys coming out of the cot this week over Channel 7 commentators being instructed not to talk during goal ad breaks so Foxtel viewers don’t get some amazing insight that Channel 7 viewers would miss, it is the first sign that those hoping for an improvement, or at very least some common sense, in Channel 7’s football coverage in their second 5 year term could be very disappointed.

Whilst some have rejoiced that 7’s self imposed ‘Cone of silence’ has provided respite from the inane prattling of commentators it has provided me with 30 seconds or so of personal reflection on the topic of how Channel 7 butchered football coverage in their first 5 year agreement after winning the rights back in 2006.

The 7 football coverage sins of 7:
1. Sunday Afternoon Football
Seven managed to plumb new depths in bad football coverage with their coverage of Sunday afternoon football. The game would start on a 60 minute delay but thanks to lengthy ad breaks during quarters managed to finish on a 80 minute delay. Perfectly timed for the final siren to sound at 5:59:30pm to provide the ideal lead in for the 6:00pm news. Another triumph for treating your viewers like shmucks.

2. Megawall
Was this meant to be a poor mans ‘Viewer Choice’ via the red button type deal? If it was it failed dismally because the veiwer couldn’t choose!! The only red button on my remote is the off switch and I was sorely tempted to use it every time the Megawall raised its ugly head. Don’t even get me started on some of the pointless things given 2 square centimetres of space on the Megawall. Commetti hair piece cam would have been more interesting.

3. Friday Night Football.
Play it live. Yes everyone loved Better Homes and Gardens and I don’t know how I would get through the weekend without knowing what Fast Ed’s latest amazingly simple recipe was but the 1 hour delay was sh1t given that the AFL had given permission for 7 to show it live every week. 5 years of pain was only given breif respite by a special occasion: The Royal Wedding, a near sellout; but were all too infrequent for most people’s liking. The salt in the wound was even with the new agreement for 2012 onward signed guaranteeing live Friday Night Football, Seven refused to show all the remaining Friday night games for 2011 live.

4. Row ZZ of the southern stand camera angle
Brilliant if you like sitting in these seats and the accompanying view of ants playing football. If like the other 99% of people in the world you hate this view and expect better form TV coverage of sport then you would have been sadly disappointed with 7’s football coverage.

5. Bruce
From the rhetorical questions: “He’s a good player isn’t he?”, the gutural “special” and repetitive use of “clever” to the moment that sums up Bruce’s 2006-2011 in one word – calling Cyril Rioli “delicious” it was a tough period for Bruce. His standards seemed to have slipped from not having called a game of footy for 5 years which is understandable but I question if he even tried to ‘keep his hand in’ over the 5 year break as he didn’t bob up on radio unlike nearly every other tv caller. This doesn’t surprise me as his true passion is not football but horse racing. I am no fan of football commentators whose first love is horse racing (Gerard Whately – I’m looking at you.) Why don’t they just go off and call horse racing somewhere where I won’t see or hear them?

As a side note, I recently read an article ‘Ten Questions with…. Bruce McAvaney’ (I was on a plane – there weren’t many options.) Bruce told how after he called Cyril delicious 7 had made an ad where Cyril, dressed as a barista, served Bruce a cup of coffee, he tasted it and replied “Delicious”. The ad never went to air. Are we richer or poorer for missing out on this obvious champagne sketch comedy?

6. No football related show.
Something like Ten’s One Week At A Time would have provided a good wrap of the round. Not to be, Instead we were subjected to 4 weeks of cringe worthy crap with Pete Hellier, Richo and the king of light entertainment, the captian of comedy himself – Leigh Matthews. [No slight on Leigh but which Channel 7 programmmer thought casting him on that show was a good idea!] Can’t even bring myself to try to remember the name of the show.

7. Ricky Olarenshaw
When you are on TV you need to be able to talk coherently. Fail.

Also why did we never hear form Sandy Roberts? For a man who has been a big part of Channel 7 football for such a long time it seemed like rough treatment. He may have been good, he may not have – we will never know as he hasn’t called a single game since 7 have had the rights back. Odd.

Sandy has to contend himself with calling games with Hutchy, Rex Hunt and Peter Daicos for Hutchy’s company Croc Media who bought most of the regional radio AFL rights. If your ever driving in the country and flick on the radio to listen to the footy you may get to hear Sandy in action.

Hopefully we can look back at these 5 years as the elongated annus horribilus we had to have. Maybe these dark days will be the catalyst for the AFL to develop its own TV network – pronto. We can only hope.

Then again what can you expect: You get what you pay for… and that’s true of everything in life