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Saturday, 22 August 2009

Tribal Sports

My first post as one of the new contributors to the blog. It is a somewhat different topic from the excitement and results related to WOC, but I've been thinking about it for the last few days anyway. Supporting a particular team in a sports competition is something we all enjoy doing. New Zealanders, however, seem to lack the tribal element that these allegiances have in overseas sports. We don't have as much of the passionate to the end support for our mainstream sports teams that Europe has. While this means we don't have the problems associated with this, like hooliganism in football, it does mean our sports teams are sometimes left high and dry if results don't go their way or if the game stagnates. Look at the Warriors fan base, changing with the wind, or the falling crowds at any NPC game. This does infact relate to orienteering. I thought it was so cool the amount of support and loyalty that clubs have from their members while in Sweden. It was awesome to stand at the finish at oringen and see the fields of team flags and tents all around. We're lucky in New Zealand that alot of orienteers are club members (not like triathlon, with few clubs) so we are already halfway there. It seems the loyalty to clubs is present in New Zealand. I know I would find it very hard to run for anyone apart from NorthWest, and the same can be seen in juniors who move away but stay with their home clubs. I think we just need to add a bit more intensity to the club scene. Perhaps clubs aren't the way to do it to start with though. Maybe the Superseries Teams would be better. We could reinvigorate the Superseries by emphasising the team element. This could add to the competition for the athletes and get the wider orienteering community more involved. Looking to other sports for ideas; we could have 'powerplays' at each round, each team pre-chooses two runners who can double the points they score in the races at an event. We could include fastest split competitions. The Swedes had an uphill leg at O-ringen that had prize money for the fastest split. We couldn't do prize money, but perhaps bonus points for the winner. Anything we add needs to be simple and easy to understand and enhance the competition. The Superseries is so valuable to the elites in New Zealand, and we need to make sure that it remains relevant. Adding a tribal element might boost support from the wider orienteering community.
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