Like playing in the highlights

This content first appeared in Sport Review newsletter number nine – if you’d like to receive articles like this and much more every Friday, you can sign up here

Watching sport online in 2018 is a bit of a minefield – sure there’s BeIN for football fans, or League Pass for the NBA and SKYGO, run by the national set-top box business. But nirvana, or being able to see that amazing shot / try / catch / tackle / goal on your Twitter / Instagram / Facebook as it happens is still a little way off for most sports.

Sure, you can usually track down someone who’s pointed their phone at their TV and hit record, but shouldn’t we be able to get a quality, not to mention legal, product these days?

Most sports would see this as cutting their own lunch, or be handcuffed by their broadcasting agreements that pay the bills – but not the NBA. In this fascinating interview with Commissioner Adam Silver, he outlines how fans using NBA clips to create their own content isn’t just allowed but encouraged:

We promote the posting of our highlights. The highlights are identified through YouTube’s software, and when ads are sold against them, we share in the revenue. We analogize our strategy to snacks versus meals. If we provide those snacks to our fans on a free basis, they’re still going to want to eat meals — which are our games. There is no substitute for the live game experience. We believe that greater fan engagement through social media helps drive television ratings.

In other words, if you create a YouTube clip of your favourite player picking their nose, you’re more likely to get a viral hit than a legal letter, because it all drives fans back towards live games on their TV’s.

That means accounts like House of Highlights or content like the Ringer’s NBA desktop not only exist with the league’s blessing but get huge engagement numbers. It’s mature and refreshing, and really, really successful for one of the most popular sports in the world.

Here’s a subjective selection of how other sports stack up:

  • I’ve watched more Indian Premier League on my computer and phone than the TV this year, thanks to the exhausting amount of video, from the seven minute match highlights reels to the stunning catches and sixes to the individual player highlights. The ICC does this really well at tournament time also
  • New Zealand Cricket send you highlights of the day’s play to your phone an hour or so after close of play, if you’re happy to give them your email address – it’s a simple concept but bloody handy if you’re at the beach or work. They also get highlight clips of the amazing moments on social media swiftly
  • The Premier League has some average video ‘content’ on their site, and some retro stuff – wouldn’t it be amazing if they made more of the clips from its history? The teams themselves have some limited highlights and content they’ve created themselves on their own sites
  • Rugby isn’t really in the game, as Elliott Smith pointed out in the Herald this week – and the NRL are leaving them in the dust. And Super Rugby really needs to fix their website for mobile, it’s a shocker
  • Other US sports like Baseball and the NFL have loads of high quality content available, fast

It’s not easy putting a model like the NBA’s in place, which requires not just the vision to accept fans taking control of your product, but either a great relationship with your broadcaster or complete control of your rights.

While most NZ sports well recognise the importance and value of video to create and reward fans, it’ll be interesting to see who’ll be the first to take it to the next, mature level.

Warriors release limited edition ‘Fan Fire’ jersery

NEWSDESK: In an effort to reconnect with frustrated supporters, the NZ Warriors team have reached out to jersey-burning fans with a limited edition Fan Fire jersey.

“The Warriors Faithful Sent Us A Clear Message On Social Media,” said Warriors marketing exec Des Frazzler. “They Want The Boys To Show Some Fire.”

The eighteenth jersey to be released in coach Stephen Kearny’s first season comes in red and blue flame editions and will be available at Waikato Stadium this Friday night for $190 for adults and $185 for kids.

When asked if the Fan Flame jerseys are flammable, Frazzler confirmed “They’ll burn all right. They’ll burn.”

Links on Friday

Most Fridays I post links to videos, long reads and weird stuff. Peruse the Links on Friday archive.

Ian Anderson puts in an application for the Northern Knights T20 coaching gig, promising some serious Moneyball-style resource maximisation. sportreview.net.nz understands Ian will take flash-tactic-suggestions mid-match via Twitter, and is therefore 100% behind his campaign.

Grab a nice red and settle in for 5 minutes 34 seconds of Juan Roman Riquelme passing a football:

“Because an entire industry is geared toward suppressing objectivity and encouraging fans to feel they are members of something they can never leave, no matter how grindingly unhappy they might become with the product.”

Sobering stuff for Arsenal and football fans (boom!) – is your innate sense of ownership and loyalty to your team cynically exploited smoke and mirrors?

Watch a man die inside

Dean Barker has been through a fair bit – you’d have to have a heart harder than an Easter Island statue to wish him anything but the best in the next Auld Mug.

However, producing Engaging Content is a harsh business and so the multiple America’s Cup runner up and man on the other end of the greatest fecking comeback ever was forced to read out ‘There is no second’ for the sake of 57 retweets in a ghastly promo clip:

sportreview.net.nz is probably being over-protective of a fine sailor who’s handled himself with more dignity than the legions of armchair experts who’ve lined up to stick the oar in over the years – but that’s a hollow, hollow look.

He’s Dan Carter on the All Black bench against France in 2007. He’s Steve Smith getting a bad decision.  He’s Ronaldo when a team mate slightly over hits a cross. He’s Andy Murray when room service doesn’t put the HP sauce on the fucking side of the fucking plate.

Let’s hope the America’s Cup digi team gets to ‘capture’ more actual sailing content very soon rather than this kind of carry on. If an event with such a great history was a little more aware of its own history, it would be all more palatable and enjoyable for it.

Michael Clarke and his part in my sore shoulder

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Brown’s Bay’s Freyberg Park, basically Lord’s with knee deep grass.


As average cricketers go, I’m pretty much middle of the pack. After playing through school, club cricket at Uni and a magical Guinness-soaked season in Ireland I haven’t bothered an oval in any fashion until late 2015, when I’ve had the honour of  representing the mighty Mairangi Vice in East Coast Bays cricket club’s Bays Big Bash comp.

It’s an eight a side Twenty20 comp designed for chaps who’ve played a bit in the past but are too hectic with kids / jobs / laziness to play at the weekends, and are also probably mostly injured. There’s a few rules designed to get the game done before dark like short run ups and only bowling from one end – it felt good to be playing with a proper ball again. Our team was made up of Dads from around the neighbourhood and around the world, with South Africa, England and India as well as NZ represented, we were a happy unit.

Most Monday nights I’d drift off to sleep replaying the one that really came out of the middle of the bat with a satisfyingly wooden-sounding Tchock. Or feeling more useless than Darren Lehmann’s thesaurus  because I’d dropped another catch.  Either way, playing again has been bloody magic.

Trade Me definitely enabled the excitement before season one. I needed a new bat and won the auction for a Slazenger V900 bow, a nice piece of willow that was definitely wider with bigger edges than the ones I was used to back in the day. I was a bit devastated to see Michael Clarke’s name on the back of it, and even more so when I scored a new bag, which also turned out to be endorsed by my least favourite cricketer ever. That will learn me and I look forward to getting my Shane Watson pads next year.

My Michael Clarke bat, Michael Clarke bag, his reaction at my kit.

I consider myself mainly a bowler, yer medium pace out swing, off cutter, obvious slow balls kind of carry on, but my memories didn’t really match up with what my arm refused to do any more. We were playing with white balls that swung alarmingly for the first four overs, then immediately transformed into pieces of dry soap, and it took me some time to get into a decent rhythm and get those effort-ball-leg-side wides out of my game. A few wickets came but I was never the game changer I envisaged on the drive to the ground. Batsman’s game, innit.

In game one this year, full of confidence after a hasty net the day before I somehow managed to rattle up 65 not out. In my mind it was Guptill at the cake tin. The reality was probably more paddle crab with bat.

You can always tell what kind of backyard a batsman has from his go-to shots. For me, the target areas were straight down the ground to the back fence, slashing between point and the covers into the large shrubs and nothing on the leg side, where the windows were. I did manage to work a kind of golf shot to cow corner into this limited set of shots and somehow managed another three 50s this year to my utter delight and furious eye rolling of my partner and kids.

The real shocker was in the field, I could not take a catch to save my life. Everything went great in practice but get me out there with a real live chance and I went to pieces, mournfully throwing the ball back, apologising to the bowler and muttering all the swear words I know to myself for the next few overs. I have no excuse, and if I get to play again, I’ll be out there doing proper practice pre-season. Hopefully.

Full credit goes to the umpires who put up with us, Louis at East Coast Bays and the Mairangi Vice fellas themselves for their enthusiasm and reliability. I’m sure I’ve done something to my shoulder, and while I’m busy not doing anything about it during the winter I’ll have those happy memories of a straight half-volley sailing over the boundary or actually getting a yorker right for once. It’s been amazing fun.

Links on Friday

Who did the best presidential first pitch? For sportreview.net.nz, Obama wins best jeans, Regan best jacket, Clinton takes most surprising lack of fire while JFK wins for best suit and not even bothering to get out on the field.  See them all.

The connoisseurs of Litton’s audacity were galvanized. They stared at course maps: He could have cut it there—or there. For the conspiracy-minded, it was a juicy peach, and LetsRun contributors adopted handles like Lone Gunman and Zapruder. The paramount question was “How?” Did he have an accomplice? Did he drive from point to point? Ride a bicycle? Devise digital subversions?

Long read from the New Yorker – amateur sleuths suspect marathon runner of cheating, crowdsource massive / obsessive / nerdy  investigation.

Two guys kayak down a drain at about eleven thousand miles an hour. Try and watch this without ducking at your desk:

Links on Friday

Brendon McCullum’s all-time Test XI. All the great aggressive batsmen are there (except Baz himself). Sir Viv is captain and Tim n Trent are the seamers. An extremely solid line up this one, and I’d expect Kane to slip in at number 3 or 4 in the next few years.


Team GB’s psychological training for Rio included finding your bag at the airport, apparently.

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These ‘sneakers’ would look more at home parked on the driveway than on your feet – there are worse, much worse, in the 20 ugliest sneakers of the past 20 years.

Missing the games already? This is old but well worth another look – Irish sailing commentator has no idea and abuses Australians, pleasingly.

Links on Friday

Asterix and Obelix taught me wild boars were something you chased for a little while, then magically transformed into a roast. Asterix and Obelix lied.

If you’ve watched Kane’s cover drives and Guppy’s lofted straight drives and thought you could do that, you are wrong. It’s a bit bloody different when you’re out there with an actual bat facing an actual ball, even in sportreview.net.nz’s old-man’s T20 league – real life tends a bit more… agricultural. Pete Langman on the shots we *actually* play.

Game Of Life is for losers.

Links on Friday

Lord’s with lights looks amazing. And they’re only bloody telescopic.

Hunter took at least another two minutes lining up his putt, then struck it quickly. He missed the putt by about a foot and, charging after it, let out a howl as he winged his putter into the pond. The geese started honking and Hunter ran back to the cart, pulled the 12-gauge from his golf bag and fired over the geese, and they lifted off the pond like a sparkling cloud of gray and white feathers.

This is what it’s like to play golf with Hunter S. Thompson on acid.

When your centre forward suffers a horrible injury, there’s nothing more reassuring than a tweet of them thumbs aloft in a hospital bed, enjoying the food – and so: a brief history of sportsmen in hospital beds.

The pigs are all like ‘this kind of shit happens all the time – oh look, lunch is here!’:

Links on Friday

The new face of international diplomacy. Euro wrecker Boris Johnson drops his shoulder into the middle of an opponent’s gentleman’s area, while playing football. Best comedy foreign minister since Winston.

Long read – Premier League rivalries unraveled.
Includes Arsenal’s underhand and wholly immoral inclusion in top flight football then and forever more, and ones that spring up then fade, like Liverpool and Chelsea in the late 2000s. Some rivalries you don’t want, like when Spurs depressingly played Wimbledon something like 16 times in a week in 1999, and some are just weird, like our ‘title rivalry with Leicester City in 2016’. Tremendous pics and layout here too.

Turns out Bradley Cooper is an uber-Tennis fan, turning up all over the world to watch @PseudoFed, looking impossibly yet casually cool.

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The name of this article, “These Incredibly Shit Euro 2016 Flags Will Make You Lose All Hope For Humanity” does said flags a disservice, because they are brilliant.

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