October 03, 2015

Horse 1998 - One Day In September: Saturday, 33rd September 2015.

I must admit that I feel somewhat strange today. Today is October the 3rd; yet owing to a result of several programming errors, the Australian Rules Grand Final is on today. I think it quite odd that the "One Day In September" this year is in October. Also, with this weekend being the Labour Day long weekend, which celebrates the eight hour working day (which nobody has worked, for a very long time), it should be the weekend of the Bathurst 1000 but it isn't owing to a dispute between multiple parties almost twenty years ago.
Not that I'm complaining, mind you. Hawthorn has made another Grand Final and thus the flag winning glory trail continues... unless it doesn't.

For years in Australia, the Spring calendar followed a familiar pattern. The New South Wales Rugby League Grand Final was held on the second last Saturday in September. The VFL Australian Rules football Grand Final was held on the last Saturday in September. The 1000km motor race at Bathurst was held on the first Sunday in October; which is the same weekend as Labour Day in NSW. This meant that sometimes, people could watch the Australian Rules final at the MCG on Saturday and then had to make a mad dash up the Hume and Olympic Highways before arriving at Bathurst for the Sunday.
This should be one of those immutable things, like the Indianapolis 500 which is held on the Memorial Day weekend in the United States or the Melbourne Cup horse race which is held on the first Tuesday in November.
Something awry happened somewhere. This year the Australian Rules Final is held on the first Saturday in October, the Rugby League final will be held tomorrow which is the first Sunday in October and the 1000km motor race at Bathurst will be held on the second Sunday in October. Has the world gone mad?

As with so many things, you can largely blame this on television. Television, that thing that used to be a harmless little box in the corner which has now grown into a wall panel and which once upon a time was content to give you a window on the world, has now become a vehicle to "monetise" the audience. No longer content with showing us lovely things to watch, including live sport, television companies now want to extract ever increasing amounts of money from your wallets and if you don't hand over a small fortune to the licensed bandits with their fancy picture palaces, they promise to take away what used to be free to watch and they'll muck with the calendar as well.

In the case of Rugby League, News Corporation and Optus fought so hard over TV broadcast rights (hoping to sell subscription services to customers) that they mucked about with the sport so badly that after two full years of legal wrangling the competition was snapped into two for the 1997 season.
News Corporation again stuck its nose into  Australian rules football and whilst it realised that it could bully about the AFL Commission as easily as it did the Australian Rugby League, this still resulted in the Fox Footy channel on pay-TV.
Mostly it is because of the demands of television that what should have been two dates fixed on the calendar as legendary, they have both been thrown aside and stomped on.

Whilst News Corporation has recently bought the rights to premier motor racing broadcasting in Australia which includes the V8 Supercars and Formula One, and is currently setting about destroying the viability of both just so it can feather its nest, the reason for the change of date for the Bathurst 1000 has nothing to do with them.
That is as a result of a previous argument over television involving the Seven Network, Network Ten, the Australian Racing Drivers' Club and the organisation now known as V8Supercars and formerly called the Australian Vee Eight Super Car Company (AVESCO). Again for a couple of years there were two 1000km races which were held at Bathurst before one of them collapsed; leaving the current race not being held on its traditional Labour Day weekend.

Suiffice to say, I hate the rampant monetisation of sport because the story which happens again and again is that greed becomes the driver and the whole thing is killed. Formula One is currently undergoing something of a crisis to that end, with long time Grands Prix being struck off the calendar because event organisers aren't prepared to stump up the ever increasing amounts of cash demanded to host an event. We have already lost the French, German, Argentine, Sammarinese, Portuguese, Dutch Grands Prix and even the new Korean Grand for precisely that reason.

As I watch the 2015 Australian Rules final and hope that Hawthorn as it attempts to become only the fifth side to win three flags in a row, I remember that this is the weirdest last Saturday in September of all because it's actually in October.

Hawthorn 16.11 (107) def. West Coast Eagles 8.13 (61)

Following Carlton, Collingwood, Melbourne (twice) and Brisbane, Hawthorn is now the fifth team to win three premierships in a row.

Sometimes, everything is glorious and nothing hurts.

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