Phoenxi outdo Hurricanes and Black Caps

Want excitement?  The Stadium is the home of excitement in Wellington, but you wouldn't know that when the Hurricanes play there. Why? Not enough people is one reason. Poor play and a very predictable season outcome are others.

Cricket can be different. The first 20/20 against Australai went down to the last over and so did a couple of the one dayers. Tension, excitement and an uncertain outcome. That's what the fans want.

A bit of underdog-ism doesn't hurt either. That's what the Phoenix finally delivered and as they did so the crowds built. Getting into the final six then knocking off Perth and then the Jets saw a big shift in sentiment.  Before this the All Whites Bahrain march filled the place as well. (Did I mention that the Hurricanes can't even get a half full stadium?)

In Rugby the Super 14 season is so predictable. The Canes start well and then fade. Already it looks like a Bulls- Crusaders final and how unexcirting is that?

People who wouldn't ordinarily go to football games flocked in to become Phoenix fans because the round ball games was suddenly fun, fashionable, and exciting.

All in sharp contrast to the Hurricanes. Ironically they started the season playing better, more exciting, and more interesting rugby than in previous seasons and winning three from three was good too.

But not as good, as exciting or an interesting as the Phoenix (and where are the Canes now - three from six and with the prospect of two more defeats in the next two weeks, their season is crocked already). The Canes are unreliable entertainers - the Whitney Houston's of Wellington sport.

Barbs about the appeal of the various sporting codes. The Phoenix have out marketed the Canes and done more to entertain the people of Wellington.

 So what is about sporting contests that appeals? First it has to be a contest, but it is more appealing if there is a genuine chance that "your" underdog side can win.  That's what's got the Phoenix crowd growing bigger: The Hurricanes can't do that, haven't done that, and finally a good number of their fans have gone to where they can get entertainment. The Black Caps deliver that sometimes, but too often they just fall about themselves like an unseemly rabble.

An outcome in doubt until the end keeps the crowd of the edge of their seat. I recall Bill Lawry in a one day match between Australia and India, lamenting, "This game is petering out into a huge win by India."

It wasn't an expression of disappointed patriotism. There was no tension left. The outcome was known and therefore the game was boring. The lesson is that technique and skill alone are not enough to entertain.  The other elements have to be there, and really, without the tension, the rivalry, the uncertainty, watching a polished display of technique just isn't enough. But then the Hurricanes can't even deliver that.