Logout

Saturday, June 22, 2024
11.1 C
Masterton

ADVERTISE WITH US

My Account

- Advertisement -

Poor format rewards poor performance

COGGIE’S CALL
[email protected]

Poor competition formats.

I’ve seen plenty of those in my 30-plus years covering sports in Wairarapa, but the one that caught my eyes a couple of weeks ago has to take the cake.

Inexplicably, all six teams in the Wellington premier men’s hockey championship will play in the final series starting on Saturday.

Yes, that’s right, even Northern United and Victoria, who managed a measly six points between them, remain in the championship hunt. Northern finished rock-bottom with one point from a draw, and Victoria picked up a win and two draws but will still face Indians and Harbour City, respectively, for places in the semifinals.

There’s a high probability that neither team will progress past this weekend, but who knows what can happen under the pressure of knockout sport. All it takes is one of those teams to take the lead, pack the defence, hold on, or sneak a flukey draw and then win the lottery of a shootout.

So why are they still in the chase?

What was wrong with what I reckon is the best four-team final series used by Wellington Hockey for many seasons?

In that, the top two teams play for a place in the final, with the loser to play the winner of a third-fourth playoff, thus giving the first and second-placed teams two lives.

This year’s format also highlights inconsistency within Wellington Hockey, with the seven-team women’s premier competition comprising no semifinal series and a straight final between the top two finishers after two rounds.

In fairness, this is to avoid doubleheaders and so the finals can be held on the same day — but it is confusing and begs the question, why couldn’t Wellington Hockey find consistency between their two showcase championships?

As one player related to me about the 2023 men’s format, what is the point of playing two rounds of, at times, tough games to finish in the top four when a team who failed to win a game until the playoffs could be crowned champions?

You say it won’t happen.

Well, a similar scenario played out in the 2008 Wairarapa-Bush senior first championship, where sixth seeds East Coast beat fifth seeds Marist 18-15 in the grand final.

In no way is this criticism of those two teams because they simply went out there, played and won, but did they warrant being in the championship playoffs, given their rankings?

The format of nine teams, with eight making the quarterfinals, including winless Eketahuna, caused more than its fair share of controversy, was unpopular with most players and supporters, and was accordingly screwed up and thrown in the rubbish bin. You would have thought so but then this year’s senior reserve competition was played under the same format.

Another one which baffles me is why have a top-four round-robin and then have semifinals?

Under that, teams are simply playing for position, knowing that they are still a chance even if they lose all three games.

If it was simply the top two to progress to the final, that creates a cut-throat aspect, and if the draw is managed properly, most games have a must-win element.

Even professional sports bodies get it wrong.

Super Rugby, with eight of the 12 teams qualifying for straight knockout quarterfinals, and I’ve ranted about that enough in the past, but it’s all about the mighty dollar.

Eighth-placed Queensland Reds came close to upsetting the top seeds, the Chiefs, this year, and one day one of those lower-ranked teams will knock out a first or second-placed team and then listen for the uproar.

Netball NZ and NZ Cricket get it right with their premier six-team championships.

Tuhirangi blue and white, play Masterton Red Star in the Senior Reserve Ryan Cup final. The top two teams, they both had to play quarterfinals in a nine-team competition. PHOTO/GRAEME BOWDEN

The top team goes straight to the final, and two and three play for the second berth, which rewards the best team in the round-robin, and brings a cutthroat aspect to the competition.

The NRL and AFL also have superb final series.

The top four teams earn two lives, while teams five to eight have do-or-die matches to make it all the way to the big dance.

It rewards the best-performed teams and gives the best of the rest a fighter’s chance, but a difficult one.

That’s a far superior option than the best team after the regular season being open to a flukey knockout by a team with a vastly inferior record.

Too many sports organisations pander to mediocrity for the sake of keeping players/teams interested, with poorly contrived competition formats, whereas serious championship sports should be about rewarding excellence and nothing less.

Wellington Hockey find consistency between their two showcase championships?

As one player related to me about the 2023 men’s format, what is the point of playing two rounds of, at times, tough games to finish in the top four when a team who failed to win a game until the playoffs could be crowned champions?

You say it won’t happen.

Well, a similar scenario played out in the 2008 Wairarapa-Bush senior first championship, where sixth seeds East Coast beat fifth seeds Marist 18-15 in the grand final.

In no way is this criticism of those two teams because they simply went out there, played and won, but did they warrant being in the championship playoffs, given their rankings?

The format of nine teams, with eight making the quarterfinals, including winless Eketahuna, caused more than its fair share of controversy, was unpopular with most players and supporters, and was accordingly screwed up and thrown in the rubbish bin. You would have thought so but then this year’s senior reserve competition was played under the same format.

Another one which baffles me is why have a top-four round-robin and then have semifinals?

Under that, teams are simply playing for position, knowing that they are still a chance even if they lose all three games.

If it was simply the top two to progress to the final, that creates a cut-throat aspect, and if the draw is managed properly, most games have a must-win element.

Even professional sports bodies get it wrong.

Super Rugby, with eight of the 12 teams qualifying for straight knockout quarterfinals, and I’ve ranted about that enough in the past, but it’s all about the mighty dollar.

Eighth-placed Queensland Reds came close to upsetting the top seeds, the Chiefs, this year, and one day one of those lower-ranked teams will knock out a first or second-placed team and then listen for the uproar.

Netball NZ and NZ Cricket get it right with their premier six-team championships.

The top team goes straight to the final, and two and three play for the second berth, which rewards the best team in the round-robin, and brings a cutthroat aspect to the competition.

The NRL and AFL also have superb final series.

The top four teams earn two lives, while teams five to eight have do-or-die matches to make it all the way to the big dance.

It rewards the best-performed teams and gives the best of the rest a fighter’s chance, but a difficult one.

That’s a far superior option than the best team after the regular season being open to a flukey knockout by a team with a vastly inferior record.

Too many sports organisations pander to mediocrity for the sake of keeping players/teams interested, with poorly contrived competition formats, whereas serious championship sports should be about rewarding excellence and nothing less.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

Related Articles

- Advertisement -
Trending
Masterton
broken clouds
11.1 ° C
11.1 °
11.1 °
72 %
1.7kmh
76 %
Sat
13 °
Sun
9 °
Mon
12 °
Tue
11 °
Wed
10 °