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Thoughts on Sports

07 March 2011

Update from last two months - disappointing to have to report that our Opals only managed fifth at the women's basketball world championships. \"Only fifth\" is still a great achievement given 213 nations play basketball - but we were expecting gold or silver. Basketball Australia (which I chair) will be conducting a review as to why we did not meet our own high expectations. While I will not pre-empt the outcomes of the review (and I promise you will all get to hear about it) I am taken by the tactics of the very successful Wallabies in restricting selection to national teams to those players participating in leagues in Australia. Given the lesser strength of our own WNBL (30 years in the making but still with a distance to go) versus women's leagues in Europe and the US this tactic is unlikely to be open to us - but it is food for thought.

Our sporting landscape is predicted to see some changes in the future. These changes are going to be prompted by the broadcast media that gives us all such a great window into our sports. Firstly there is the anti-siphoning legislation which is the government intervention to ensure that major events are accessible to all television viewers not just those who choose to pay for subscription services. Changes to this legislation are due soon and it is widely tipped to allow more content to be more freely available. And a good thing too I say. Secondly there is the proliferation of channels as our free to air broadcasters develop new digital channels to target a broader audience with niche offerings. Finally the ownership changes at Channel Ten may prompt some changes in the current sports only channel oneHD. I should declare my interest here - Ten network is basketball's new broadcast partner.

While I am all for more sports on more television channels I sincerely hope that these changes won't lessen the participation of Australians of all ages in sports. While it's great to be a spectator and even better to be a fan and part of the community that supports a team it's even better to be a participant. I look at the lessons sport taught me about teamwork, challenging yourself, learning to get along with others and leadership. There is no way I would be doing what I am today without them. (And I'd probably be wearing a bigger dress size.) I hope that generations of little girls to come have these same opportunities. To all the parents out there - let your kids see the role models on the TV but make sure they have the opportunity to see what it feels like to try and emulate them. Particularly the girls.