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Holidays hiccups: Are sports value for money?

Brigette Mossman, second from right, attacks for Dalefield against Karori. The team have played only seven games in 11 weeks. PHOTOS/FILE

Do our local sportspeople get good bang for their buck?

And what is that some winter sports for some reason must have long weekends off?

Farriers Dalefield women’s hockey coach Michael O’Connor has raised the matter with me on at least a couple of occasions, because of the difficulty of building combinations and gathering momentum.

O’Connor’s frustration came about because of the number of weekends without any play in the Wellington Premier Championship.

Up to last Saturday, 11 weeks into the season, Dalefield had played only seven games, with no games on consecutive weekends due to Easter and the Anzac Day long weekend, followed two weeks later by the bye, and then another two games before Queen’s Birthday.

It doesn’t get any better with no play scheduled for the Matariki long weekend at the end of next week, with the second bye three weeks later.

All teams are in the same boat, and byes are a necessity with an odd number of teams in a competition, but in a round-robin competition that covers 18 weeks [before playoffs], each team will only play 12 games, and have six weekends off.

Are the region’s elite hockey players getting good value for their hard-earned dollar?

The netball season is stop-and-start.

Netball is another code where the players appear to get a not-so-good deal.

Not only does the season start significantly later than other sports, with competition play not getting under way until middle or late May, but again there are breaks for Queen’s Birthday, and most likely Matariki, before a hiatus for the winter school holidays.

Although in fairness, the secondary school players, who make up a significant number of players in the adult grades, usually have age-grade representative commitments over the school breaks.

But does a 10-game round-robin followed by two weekends of playoffs represent decent return for your subs?

Adding to the confusion is that many secondary school sports competitions, such as the Wellington secondary schools premier rugby and football championships don’t take time off for long weekends, and play continues as usual.

Another contributing factor over this season and the previous two seasons has been the impact of covid-19, which urged some codes, notably Wairarapa-Bush, to include reserve weekends in their schedule.

But again, 10 games plus semifinals and finals are hardly a demanding season, and it’s doubtful that it’s ideal preparation for players pushing for a spot in the Heartland squad.

Football appears to be the odd one out, with leagues played over two full rounds running from early April to late August with the only breaks for knockout cup games.

Maybe that’s why it’s the beautiful game – because players want to play.

Of course, sports organisations often make these decisions based on feedback from clubs and players, so it’s hard to knock administrators following the wishes of their players.

It makes one ponder though – is it just another step in the decline of young people wanting to play serious sport?

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