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Magpies Postpone Swooping Season Till December

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 01/09/2021 - 10:34am in

magpie

Faced with the possibility that the streets will still be bare of people in September, Australia’s magpies have reluctantly pushed back the swooping season to December.

“What’s the point of swooping season if there’s no-one to swoop down on but a couple of posties, ginger cats and the odd weirdo scurrying home from the shops with a plastic bag full of toilet rolls,” sighed Tommy Rawkdonikis, CEO of Magpies Australia. “The only alternative is to conduct the whole season behind closed doors with some shop mannequins set up in a field somewhere.”

“September is still six months away but people don’t understand the amount of preparation that goes into a successful swooping season,” lamented Lidcombe magpie Arthur Squawkins. “There’s big tall trees to be scouted out, busy parks to be allocated and beaks to be sharpened.”

Some magpies fear a return to the war years where so many Australians were fighting overseas that the streets were nearly empty, leading to ugly scenes where five or six magpies were forced to swoop the same postman.

“December is not an ideal time to hold the swooping season because it’s right in the middle of summer, which means there’s a plastic ice cream container in every fridge,” warned Ashfield magpie Les Bird. “On the plus side, people get shorter haircuts in hot weather, which means better access to ears.”

Peter Green
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Multiple match thrillers set the tone for footy finals

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 25/08/2021 - 10:30am in

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Multiple match thrillers set the tone for footy finals

Despite COVID-related disruptions, if the remainder of the AFL season produces just half of last week's excitement, we are in for a ripper round of finals, writes Ronny Lerner.

AFTER 23 rounds of home-and-away football and no shortage of COVID-related disruptions and obstacles, AFL finals are finally here

And if the last nine games of the season produce half the amount of excitement that the final round did, we are in for an absolute treat.

It’s hard to remember a more memorable round of football, especially when you consider what was at stake.

On Friday night, Port Adelaide climbed off the canvas against the Western Bulldogs to hit the front for the first time with less than five minutes to go and ultimately clinch a thrilling two-point win. 

The result gifted the Power a top-two finish and, more importantly, put them in the box seat to potentially stay in Adelaide for the entirety of the finals, given the MCG will almost certainly not play host to the grand final for the second year in a row.

The Bulldogs’ grip on a top-four spot was left hanging by a thread and the torture would only worsen on Saturday as the fifth-placed Brisbane faced West Coast, the Lions hellbent on wrenching the Dogs’ double-chance from their grasp.

Over the course of the match, the Lions entered and exited the top four on a total of nine occasions in a real-life drama that not even scriptwriters could conjure up. The last of those reshuffles came with 30 seconds to go when Lincoln McCarthy kicked a behind to put Brisbane 32 points up against the Eagles, overtaking the Bulldogs’ percentage and securing a top-four place in the most thrilling fashion imaginable. 

Charlie Cameron emphatically put the Dogs out of their long, drawn-out misery on the siren with one last goal to see Brisbane finish a measly 0.5% ahead of Luke Beveridge’s side, relegating them to fifth.

And if that wasn’t enough heart-stopping action, Melbourne fought back from 44 points down against Geelong at Kardinia Park to win by four points on Saturday night and grab its first minor premiership since 1964 — captain Max Gawn’s after-the-siren goal sending the red-and-blue faithful into delirium. 

It was one hell of an appetiser for the main course and after all that drama – as well as victories to Greater Western Sydney (GWS) and Essendon – our top eight for 2021 was finalised.

So how does each team stack up in the pursuit of this year’s premiership cup?

In order of ladder position

1. Melbourne Demons

Wins: 17   Draws: 1   Losses: 4    130.8% 

Can the Demons finally break the curse of Norm Smith and end the VFL/AFL’s longest active premiership drought? 

After 57 long years, this writer believes they will. But if they did, you couldn’t help but feel for their long-suffering fans, given finals will almost certainly not be staged in Melbourne for the second year in a row, meaning success-starved supporters from their heartland could potentially miss out on witnessing history being made from the stands. (Bulldogs and Richmond fans must count their lucky stars that they avoided such a fate when their clubs ended their long premiership droughts in 2016 and 2017 respectively.)

However, on the plus side, the Demons look like the most complete team in the top eight, with a sensational midfield featuring the likes of Gawn, Christian Petracca and Clayton Oliver, two defensive generals in Steven May and Jake Lever, and a belatedly functioning forward line with Ben Brown finally looking at home in the goal square. They have an exceptional 8-2 record against the top-eight teams, too, including a perfect 3-0 against fellow top-four sides. 

2. Port Adelaide Power

Wins: 17   Draws: 0   Losses: 5    126.3%

The Power are purring along nicely, having now won nine of their last ten games and choosing the perfect time to register the club's first win for the year against a top-four side last weekend. Its failure to do so over the first 22 rounds had just about been the only knock on the club, but now that those concerns have been addressed, the team can take another boost of confidence heading into the finals.

As it was last year, the Power find themselves in the fortunate position to be one of the few sides to get home finals and are the only such team to enjoy that luxury this weekend against the Cats. They weren’t able to fully capitalise on playing two home finals last year, but, as they say, success is hardly ever achieved without some finals heartache along the way. 

Their agonising preliminary final loss to Richmond in 2020 could provide the extra fire in the belly to help them go close to a second AFL flag this year.

3. Geelong Cats

Wins: 16   Draws: 0   Losses: 6    126.7%

How dramatically the fortunes of a team can change thanks to just one kick. Gawn’s now-iconic goal pushed the Cats from top spot and a first-up meeting with Brisbane on neutral territory in Adelaide, down to third position and a qualifying final against the Power in front of their home fans (albeit with capacity expected to be capped at 15,000 at Adelaide Oval).

Geelong’s inability to finish off the Demons after leading by more than seven goals could end up haunting them for a very long time, especially as this year looks like their final roll of the dice with so many players aged 30-and-over in their line-up (although, we do seem to say that about Geelong almost every year and they keep defying gravity). Nevertheless, their quest to end a decade of near-misses has been made a lot harder, especially without key players Tom Stewart (foot) and Zach Tuohy (hamstring) due to injury. 

Their last month of form has been unconvincing, to say the least, but they do have the double chance and have already beaten the Power in Adelaide this year — so, they’ll still back themselves to cause some damage throughout August/September.

4. Brisbane Lions 

Wins: 15   Draws: 0   Losses: 7    133.3% 

Talk about coming good at the right time of the year. The Lions’ top-four hopes looked dead and buried three weeks ago when they dropped to sixth spot after losing to Hawthorn – their third defeat in the space of four weeks. But luckily for them, they rediscovered their ruthless and aggressive edge in the final three rounds, beating Fremantle, Collingwood and West Coast by an average margin of 62 points to barge their way into the top four in the final minute of the season.

Like the Power, Brisbane is the only other team that will be capable of enjoying genuine home-ground advantage during finals due to the COVID crisis gripping the nation, so will relish that scenario either in week two or three. But the Lions would much prefer to use that trump card in a preliminary final — so, a victory over the Demons in their qualifying final becomes even more massive than usual. If they were able to achieve that, then the sky is the limit for Chris Fagan’s team.

5. Western Bulldogs 

Wins: 15   Draws: 0   Losses: 7    132.8% 

How has it come to this? After spending 20 consecutive weeks in the top four – including eight rounds on top of the ladder – the wheels have fallen off the Bulldogs in spectacular fashion. After failing to lose consecutive games all season, the Dogs lost their last three matches to be relegated to fifth spot and a sudden-death final against the Bombers. There’s no team heading into the finals in worse form than Luke Beveridge’s side. They seem to be really struggling with the absence of Josh Bruce (knee) and Stefan Martin (groin) while their vaunted midfield is being shown up, particularly at stoppages.

And just to raise apprehension levels even higher, they will come up against the team that kickstarted their fall from grace a mere two weeks ago. The Dogs memorably won the flag from outside the top four in 2016, but they’re going to require a miraculous form turnaround to string four wins in a row from here to replicate that effort.

6. Sydney Swans 

Wins: 15   Draws: 0   Losses: 7    119.9% 

One of the surprise packets of the season, the Swans have defied pre-season expectations to finish in the top eight. In hindsight, we should’ve seen it coming, because John Longmire-coached teams historically don’t stay out of finals action for too long.

Some new blood has expedited their regeneration, but the contribution from established stars such as Luke Parker, Josh Kennedy, Lance Franklin, Tom Papley, Isaac Heeney, Callum Mills and Jake Lloyd cannot be understated, while the recruitment of journeyman ruckman Tom Hickey has proven a masterstroke. 

The fact that they haven’t been able to play in Sydney since Round 13, yet won seven of their last nine games is a testament to not only the mental strength of the playing group but also how tightly-knit they are. It’s going to be a tough ask for them to go all the way, but they’ve already defied the odds on numerous occasions this year. The Swans' nothing-to-lose mindset could be their secret weapon. 

7. Greater Western Sydney Giants 

Wins: 11   Draws: 1   Losses: 10    99.7% 

The Giants are another team that was not expected to make the finals and after starting the year 0-3, those prognostications looked justified. However, to coach Leon Cameron’s credit, he was able to gradually turn the tide as the year progressed, despite a wildly fluctuating form-line in the back half of the year and also having to contend with life on the road for a prolonged period like the Swans.

Thanks largely to their powerful midfield unit, GWS have qualified for their fifth finals campaign in six years. And as fate would have it, they take on local rivals Sydney in a final for the third time, but sadly their cut-throat meeting will be staged in Tasmania instead of at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Can the Giants win their maiden premiership this year? Probably not. But season 2021 looks like it could end up being a vital building block for their next generation’s assault on a flag.

8. Essendon Bombers 

Wins: 11   Draws: 0   Losses: 11    109.1% 

Just qualifying for the finals has been a monumental achievement by the Bombers. Like GWS, Essendon experienced a mass exodus of high-end talent after failing to make the finals last year.

They were widely anticipated to finish near the foot of the ladder as a result. And at 2-6, they looked headed that way. But rookie coach Ben Rutten has worked wonders to turn his team into one of the most exciting and damaging sides in the league this year. They might be at the bottom of the heap in eighth position, but don’t be fooled by their win-loss record, because they lost four games by a total of 13 points and could so easily be further up the ladder.

The Dons also head into the finals in great form, having won their last three games — and pushed the Swans to the end before that. The Bombers will also be buoyed at having beaten the Dogs only a fortnight ago, with memories of Peter Wright wreaking havoc still undoubtedly fresh in Bulldogs’ minds. Beating the Doggies twice in a month would be a hell of an effort and if Essendon were able to achieve that, they would also end their 17-year stretch without a finals victory. 

The flag is an extreme long shot this year, but excitingly for the Bombers, their premiership window could open as early as next year. And if they head into 2022 with a finals win under their belts, that would be an added bonus.

Ronny Lerner has been a sports and music journalist/editor since 2006. Follow Ronny on Twitter @RonnyLerner.

Olympics fuel nationalism that distracts from our real problems

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 11/08/2021 - 6:39pm in

In the leadup to the Tokyo Olympic Games, political leaders all over the world reassured the public that the Olympics were a valuable opportunity to reconnect the world through sport.

But as the Games wrap up, it is clearer than ever that they have represented a very expensive insult to public health for the Japanese people.

In Tokyo, COVID cases have surged during the 17 days of the games. On 20 July the number of new daily cases in Tokyo rose past 1000, with now over 5000 new cases per day. The vaccine rollout in Japan continues to lag, with just over 30 per cent of the nation fully vaccinated, and vaccine supplies running low.

In spite of this, the government has spent over $20 billion on the Olympics going ahead. This is estimated to roughly equal the cost of building 300 new hospitals in Japan.

The Olympics draws massive profits for broadcasters and corporate sponsors. US advertising revenue this year is predicted to reach about $3 billion.

But for the ruling class, the Olympics is about more than just profit. Throughout the 125-year history of the modern Olympic games, sport has been used to bolster nationalism, encouraging people to “rally around the flag” amid war, austerity, and now a health crisis.

Instead of simply celebrating human achievement, the wall-to-wall coverage focuses on “our team” with celebrations at every gold medal for Australia. The Daily Telegraph boasted that “Australia’s Tokyo tally of 17 gold medals equals the previous high mark achieved in Athens 2004”.

Scott Morrison wasted no time trying to cash in, declaring that the public needed to emulate our national success in Tokyo and “make a gold medal run” in driving up rates of vaccination.

For decades, the Olympics has seen governments spending billions of dollars of public money on stadiums while people go without basic needs.

But the Olympics also carries a parallel history of resistance, sparking movements of working class people calling for economic justice, and athletes themselves standing up against racism and sexism.

Resistance to the Tokyo Olympics

For months, Japanese people have protested against the Games both in the streets and online. Signs at protests read “No Olympics – use that money for COVID-19” and “Olympics kill the poor”.

One activist, Karoi Todo, told AAP, “We are not only protesting the Olympics, we are opposing the government overall—this is ignoring human rights and our right to life. Infections are increasing. To do the Olympics is unforgivable.”

Nurses were called to assist with the games and took to social media to voice opposition, with one nurse writing “we are not disposable pawns”.

Anger has also been directed at the notoriously profit-hungry International Olympic Committee (IOC). When the IOC president Thomas Bach arrived in Tokyo, his visit to the Hiroshima memorial was met with protests. A Hiroshima community group declared that it dishonoured the victims of the atomic bomb.

Japanese activists have also expressed anger about the broader impacts of the Games, including the destruction of public housing in Kasumigaoka to make way for a stadium, and new anti-terrorism initiatives that increased police powers.

What has happened in Japan is consistent with the history of the Olympic Games.

The 2016 Rio Olympics cost $19 billion and deepened an ongoing housing crisis. Homeless people were transported to shelters 50 miles away from the city, and tens of thousands of people were forcibly moved out of favelas in order to build stadiums and “clean up” the city’s image. Similar impacts on housing have been a defining feature of the Olympics in London in 2012, Beijing in 2008, Athens in 2004, Sydney in 2000 and countless more.

These impacts are a symptom of host countries using the Olympics to push nationalist ideas and declare their power on the world stage.

As the world has seen war and crisis, the ceremony and nationalism of the Olympics has become more pronounced. At the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, in the middle of the Great Depression, the medals ceremony was introduced, with a tiered podium and the flag of the gold medallist being raised to the sound of the national anthem.

The Olympics Games have been presented as non-political, bringing countries together to celebrate sport and international peace and unity. In reality, this means crackdowns on protest, both from local people and athletes.

A particularly brutal example is the games in 1968 in Mexico City. Ten days before the games, Mexican people protested peacefully against the games as a waste of money, and the Mexican army responded by killing 260 people and injuring some 1200 others.

That same year athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists in a Black Power salute on the podium while the American National anthem played, and were subsequently sent home, with deliberate efforts made to write them out of Olympic history. A spokesman for the IOC said Smith and Carlos’s actions were, “a deliberate and violent breach of the fundamental principles of the Olympic spirit.”

Capitalism and sport

Sport is important to people because it presents opportunities for recreation, excitement and connection. It offers us a taste of things that work under capitalism denies ordinary people, like the ability to use our bodies in creative and spontaneous ways, rather than for the bosses’ profits. The sense of teamship and collective identity offered by sport is a welcome relief from the alienation of capitalism.

But supporting a club or supporting your nation can also serve to paper over class divisions, and distort ideas about who our real enemies are. The ruling class values this. In the Olympics, gold medal tallies are pushed as a point of national pride, while poverty and suffering are swept under the rug.

The Tokyo Olympics going ahead in the midst of COVID crisis is a particularly stark demonstration of this. The Sydney Morning Herald even editorialised that, “a distraction from the fear and heartache in the wider world has been more necessary than ever”.

But the legacy of resistance tied to the Olympics, and the resistance in Tokyo this year, shows that the medals ceremonies and the national anthems do not do enough to conceal the contradictions of capitalism.

To fight for global public health amid the COVID crisis, we must look beyond the green and gold and see our greater potential for connection in struggle.

By Matilda Fay

The post Olympics fuel nationalism that distracts from our real problems appeared first on Solidarity Online.

And the winner is Brisbane … well kind of … or maybe not

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 27/07/2021 - 2:00pm in

Just when we were meant to be waving our national flags, standing to attention at the medal ceremonies and enjoying the Olympic Games from our various states of lockdown or in my case (day 12) quarantine, Professor Scott Baum sends me his latest guest blog telling us how bad the Games are. What a spoilsport (sorry). So, today, Scott from Griffith University, who has been one of my regular research colleagues over a long period of time, brings the wet blanket to wreck our fun, and just as Victoria (where I am holed up in quarantine at present) comes out of lockdown. Over to Scott …

And the winner is Brisbane… well kind of… or maybe not

Amongst all the noise emanating from the Japanese capital about the long delayed 2020 Olympic Games, there was the announcement that Brisbane Australia (the region I live in), had been granted the rights to host the 2032 Summer Olympic Games.

Despite the complete sham of the Olympics that sees rich nations throw buckets of money into creating an uneven playing field vis-à-vis poorer nations (see Bill’s alternative Olympics medal count to see what happens when you account for income per capita or GDP) the reaction to the announcement was predictable.

Politicians cheered and congratulated each other on a job well done, sports-mad fans in Brisbane gathered together for a celebratory firework display and the media went crazy as this article (July 21, 2021) – ‘A win for our athletes, a win for the community’: Qld rejoices after 2032 Olympics decision – exemplifies:

A win for our athletes, a win for the community’: Qld rejoices after 2032 Olympics decision (July 21, 2021).

For the politicians involved, legitimising the decision to bid for the right to hold an Olympic Games was also predictable.

As with all these things there was a large amount of talk about all the economic benefits that would surely flow to the region, the wider Queensland state economy and of course the national economy more generally.

There was talk of all the jobs that would be created, all the flow-on to sectors outside those directly associated with hosting and running a spectacle of such large proportions, there was talk about all the shiny and new “essential” infrastructure the region would gain and how all of Queensland would benefit.

The problem with mega events like the Olympic Games is that they rarely live up to the hype that is used to legitimate them.

The Olympics is not the only mega-event; Football (Soccer) World Cup, the Rugby World Cup, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games are all up there.

In general, as this academic research report (September 13, 2017) – Who Wins? Outcomes of Olympic-sized Events – teaches us, these mega-events:

… require substantial investment by their hosts and attract considerable media attention. In addition to their scale, defining features of mega events are that they move from place to place, last for a fixed duration, attract a large number of visitors, have a large mediated reach, come with high costs, and have significant impacts on the built environment and the population.

This article (August 1, 2016) – The great Olympic budget blowout – talks about mega-projects which:

These are huge, complex, multi-billion-dollar investment projects, from China’s high-speed rail network to Sydney’s Opera House, beloved of politicians but with a well-deserved reputation for costing far more than expected.

Don’t worry it will be cost-neutral

Any criticism of the costs of hosting an event such as the Olympics or talk about cost blow-outs is washed away with comments such as the games being cost-neutral being offset by payments from the International Olympic Committee, ticket sales and television rights.

In relation to the announcement that Brisbane had won the rights to host the Olympics, the media went into overdrive spouting the political messaging from the Government – for example (July 22, 2021) – (paywall).

Ms Palaszczuk, the Queensland Premier, was busy driving home the cost-neutral message, reminding people:

… that there would be a 50 per cent contribution between the state and the federal governments and of course the councils (of southeast Queensland) are putting in money as well.

But we learn from the – Australian Government’s Budget Review 2021-22 – that:

In practice, international experience suggests that the host country budgeted costs for the Olympic Games are usually dwarfed by their final actual costs and cost overruns are prevalent.

So even the federal government, who has stumped up to finance 50 per cent, acknowledges that there may well be a financial blow-out.

We also learn from this academic paper – Regression to the tail: Why the Olympics blow up (published September 15, 2020) – that the extent of blow-outs in past Olympics games has been in many cases significant.

The following graph shows that cost blow-outs have ranged from 720 per cent for the 1976 Montreal Olympics to a 2 per cent cost-overrun at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. The average sat at 213 per cent.

The conclusions that the authors draw are:

Judging from these statistics it is clear that large risks of large cost overruns are inherent to the Olympic Games … cost overruns are statistically overwhelmingly manifest for the Olympics.

We learn from this blog post – The Australian government is not akin to a household (February 16, 2015) – that there is no financial problem for the Federal Government if there is a 50 per cent blows-out.

Such a blow out might signify poor project design or management but the major issue from the perspective of the federal government might be the moral question of who has benefited from the cost blow-out, although I doubt this comes into their thinking.

There is, as we know, no fiscal constraint on government outlays, only a real resource constraint and hence a blow-out is not problem, even though those in power will argue the contrary and critics, on the hunt for cheap political points, will talk about a waste of taxpayer’s money.

For State and Local Government officials and city organisers any budget blow-out has to be funded from elsewhere.

See the blog post – When governments are financially constrained (September 17, 2010) – for more discussion of this point.

Unlike sovereign currency issuing governments, state and local governments have to fund their expenditure just like you and me.

As a consequence, any blow-out will need to be paid with borrowings, local taxes, through shifting funds from elsewhere or through selling off assets.

We have seen plenty of examples where governments have seen fit to spend up on big ticket items only to cut public services later in the name of sound fiscal management.

The outcome is unlikely to be the legacy proponents of the Olympic Games promised.

The city/region that was going to benefit so much from hosting the games gets an unfavourable financial legacy they didn’t plan on.

The potential for austerity measures to bridge the gap and all the damage that goes with them become an unhappy proposition.

Everyone’s a winner

Another furphy used to legitimate hosting the games is that the benefits are widely distributed. This is the everyone’s a winner argument and is simply the usual neo-liberal game of telling those in the most vulnerable positions that they will benefit from some form of trickle-down.

In terms of the Olympic Games, we read in this Jacobin article – The Olympics Is a Racket (July 19, 2021) – that:

There’s a lot of money sloshing through the Olympic system. The issue is that it tends to slosh upward into the pockets of those who are already rich.

This analysis (August 6, 2016) – Rio Olympics 2016: Bosses live in luxury as athletes struggle – reports that the International Olympic Committee rake in billions of dollars each Olympic cycle and whose:

volunteer president who gets an annual “allowance” of US$251,000 (2016) and lives rent-free in a five-star hotel and spa in Switzerland.

And we read about the big media companies who make record advertising revenues.

And we read about the:

… local political and economic elites who are well positioned …[and tied into] … public-private partnerships that are massively lopsided in favor of the private entities.

As for the rest of the so-called beneficiaries of host-city status:

Simply put, working-class people do not benefit from the Olympics. They’re told that they’ll benefit from the Olympics when they’re in the bidding stage, in an attempt to get the local population on board, but the benefits are always overstated.

And then there are the findings from more focused assessments.

The last two significant mega-sporting events to be held in Australia were the 2000 Summer Olympics held in Sydney and the 2018 Commonwealth Games held in the South East Queensland city of the Gold Coast.

Each of these were heralded as offering wide ranging benefits for the host cities, yet the assessments suggested otherwise.

From this academic research study (published May 23, 2011) – Modelling the Economic Impacts of the Sydney Olympics in Retrospect – Game Over for the Bonanza Story (paywall) – we learn that:

… in terms of measurable economic welfare, the Sydney Olympics came as a cost to Australians, reducing the present value of real private and public consumption by $2.1billion.

In a related media report (June 1, 2021) – Is hosting the Olympics Games worth the investment? – it is noted that the Sydney Olympic Games:

… failed to increase employment or meaningfully boost tourism … All the studies we did after the Games suggested that we were no more on the tourism map than we were before the Games.

Similar stories emerged about the 2018 Commonwealth Games which was held in the Gold Coast (part of the same region that will host the 2023 Olympics).

This report from Griffith University in Brisbane (published June 2019) – Business and the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (2019) – outlines the way businesses were impacted from that event:

At the broadest level, half of respondents (51%) reported that their business was impacted very negatively; 23% somewhat negatively; 16% felt no impact; and 9% of respondents were somewhat positive with only 1% very positive.

The preeminent factor identified for the negative impact on businesses was a change in customer numbers (57%), with reduced sales volume coming a close second (52%).

The Report’s co-author wrote an Op Ed follow-up (June 1, 2021) – Is hosting the Olympics Games worth the investment? – and argued that:

Sports fans don’t act like leisure tourists … They are not buying coffees in shopping precincts. What we also found in our study of the Commonwealth Games is that a lot of locals left town during the event. Businesses got a double whammy in that they didn’t get the normal local trade and they didn’t get the tourism trade … In the early bidding days, the rhetoric is that everyone’s a winner, whereas, realistically, there are going to be wins in some areas and a lot of people who are disrupted and won’t do well …

And it doesn’t end with small businesses loosing money.

The uneven outcomes often hit our most disadvantaged.

This Jacobin magazine article (July 20, 2021) – Abolish the Olympics – focuses on the abhorrent treatment of residents and the environment of many past Olympic host cities:

Some 1.5 million residents were displaced for Beijing 2008. Favelas were flattened for “white elephant” stadiums, which sit empty after events end, destroying the homes of 77,000 people and accelerating policing, ahead of Rio 2016. People are still being evicted over lies related to Olympic development in East London for 2012, and most can still recall the civil rights fiasco of Sochi 2014, where homosexuality is still criminalized and where, before the games, suspected LGBTQ residents were attacked and disappeared by the local government — leading to no condemnation by the IOC, which stated that the only human rights protections in the Olympic Charter are for athletes and members themselves. An ancient forest, considered sacred by many South Koreans, was eviscerated for Pyeongchang ’18 to make way for a ski run that would be used twice.

No wonder the authors were calling for the abolition of this grotesque event.

Much needed critical infrastructure

The final piece of hoodwinking that is trotted out by politicians is that hosting the Olympics will provide new and upgraded critical infrastructure for the city or region.

There is nothing a politician likes better than announcing a big bit of infrastructure to boost their political legacy.

I noted in this Op Ed (October 20, 2020) – Hi-vis haute couture impossible to miss, but not always the ideal fit – the way politicians wearing hi-visibility vests has become a commonplace campaigning strategy.

Critical Olympic infrastructure can mean many things-new stadiums, public spaces, transport improvements and athlete housing.

Some of this might be useful and there are some examples where infrastructure built for the Olympics has gone on to be used post-games. But there is also international experience suggests that there is plenty of scope for these projects to become white elephants and that is in addition to the afore mentioned cost-blowouts.

This academic research study – Avoiding white elephants? The planning and design of London’s 2012 Olympic and Paralympic venues, 2002–2018 (published July 1, 2019) – notes that:

White elephants’ are particularly associated with the cities that have hosted some of the most recent Games of the twenty-first century, as reflected in accounts of the ‘uncertain legacy’ of Sydney’s Stadium two years after the 2000 Games, Athens’s struggles to generate viable reuses for its venues, Beijing’s largely empty ‘bird’s nest’ stadium, and of numerous hoarded or boarded-up venues in Rio, Sochi and beyond.

But it is also not just about white elephants.

It would seem reasonable that if a state or federal government wanted to invest in critical infrastructure, then they and the constituents they represent would be much better served being provided with efficient public transport that helped move people where they wanted to travel, high quality health facilities, good schools etc.

This is doubly important for some of our most disadvantaged communities who are very unlikely to benefit from the infrastructure spend associated with a mega-event like the Olympics.

What might be critical to the Olympics might not be critical to those living in far flung suburban communities away from the action.

Conclusion

Those pushing for the Olympics and other mega-events will try to legitimate them via a raft of statements about cost neutrality, broad social and economic benefits and the provision of critical infrastructure for the benefit of all.

There is no denying that hosting a mega-event like the Olympics might bring a lift to some unmeasurable ‘national pride’, but this is like the classic magic trick-look at my right hand and ignore what my left hand is doing.

While the people are cheering, others are running away with the loot.

If politicians want to leave a legacy from their time in office, then they should start by addressing some of the pressing social and economic issues that exist, rather than trying to hoodwink us with a sporting mega-event.

Note from Bill: Alternative Olympic Games Medal Tally

After all that, let’s get into what is important – the Medal Tally! (-:|

Since the 2000 Olympics, I have compiled an alternative set of Olympic tallies to take into account size of population, economy and income per head.

This provides a rather different slant on the medal hauls of the big rich countries who use their dominance as a statement of the veracity of their ideological positions.

You can follow the latest counts (which are updated each day) – HERE.

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2021 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

Conservatives Demand Jumping To Conclusions Be Included In The Olympics

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 22/07/2021 - 10:30am in

Australian conservatives are leading a campaign to demand that the Queensland Olympics scheduled for 2032 include the sport of Jumping to Conclusions.

The campaign is being lead by conservative commentator Miranda Devine, an expert in the field, and has strong backing in parliament from Queensland MP George Christensen.

Speaking to The (un)Australian, Miranda Devine explained the push, saying: “I’ve dedicated my entire life to jumping to conclusions, for little reward. Well sure, there’s been money and exposure, but I want more! I want my jumping to conclusions to be recognised on the world stage.

“I mean, how else will my message be heard before being forced to retract?”

Mr Christensen took a break from planning his next ‘study trip’ to Manilla to also lobby for the Olympic inclusion, saying: “Jumping to Conclusions has to be recognised as a sport. I mean, it’s the only exercise I get – well, aside from dashing off to the Philipines.”

The IOC is expected to announce a decision shortly on the inclusion of Jumping to Conclusions at the 2032 Olympics, with commentators expecting the decision to be announced as soon as the cheque clears.

Mark Williamson

@MWChatShow

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter @TheUnOz or like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/theunoz.

We’re also on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/theunoz

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Not good enough. Random Inner West backyard party scene. Forget Brisbane, y'all remember “the...

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 22/07/2021 - 8:37am in

Not good enough. Random Inner West backyard party scene. Forget Brisbane, y'all remember “the best games ever” Sydney 2000? It might seem like an eternity ago, but not for those who were here when the five-ring circus came to town. Unfortunately, the Glory Days have gone away.

Race tightens for finals-footy berth

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 21/07/2021 - 10:30am in

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Sport


Race tightens for finals-footy berth

With only five rounds to go before AFL finals, chances to make it into the coveted top eight are narrowing for teams who may have left their run too late, writes Ronny Lerner.

AS COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc upon the AFL fixture, perhaps the one thing less certain than who your team is going to play from week to week is what the top eight will look like at the end of the season.

It was only about a month ago when we heard numerous footy experts declare that the top eight was a closed shop and that its members had already been confirmed.

But even earlier than that, this writer in this very column warned against making such bold declarations with so many games still to be played out — and that caution has proven to be justified.

For instance, who could have foreseen Richmond’s spectacular free fall down the ladder in the past month? Granted, they were finally able to open up their parachute last round with an upset win over Brisbane Lions, but it might have been deployed too late, especially now with superstar Dustin Martin ruled out for the rest of the year due to a serious kidney injury.

While dreams of a “three-peat” of premierships are all but over, Richmond does still remain in the hunt for a finals berth.

I must admit I have been a supporter of the idea of a “wildcard weekend” immediately before finals, that sees seventh play tenth and eighth play ninth for the final two top-eight spots.

But given how tight the finals race still is this year with only five rounds to go – just two games separate seventh and 13th on the ladder – the need to artificially make the season more alive for more teams for longer just isn’t there. The competition is organically taking care of that supposed issue all on its own.

So, as we head down the home stretch of one of the most even AFL seasons in recent memory, it’s an opportune time to assess each team’s chances of qualifying for finals (fixture uncertainty notwithstanding).

RUN HOME * 

(In order of ladder position)

7th:  West Coast Eagles  

36 points, 98%
Run home: 
St Kilda (OS), Collingwood (MCG), Melbourne (OS), Fremantle (OS), Brisbane (G)

Like Richmond Tigers, the Eagles managed to stop the bleeding on the weekend with a crucial seven-goal win over Adelaide Crows. However, their form line prior to that clash was alarming, losing three games in a row, including two thrashings from top-four contenders the Western Bulldogs and Sydney, and a humiliating defeat at home to bottom-placed North Melbourne.

They’re far from finals certainties, but with nine wins in the bank, three more meetings with bottom-ten sides, another three games in Perth and almost a full list to choose from, West Coast are well-placed. 

8th: Essendon Bombers

32 points, 104.5% 
Run home
: GWS (TBC), Sydney (MS), Bulldogs (MS), Gold Coast (Met), Collingwood (MCG)

What an incredible year these Bombers have put together so far. Widely regarded as a bottom-four team before the season started, Ben Rutten’s men have defied expectations to sit inside the top eight with just five games to go. It’s fair to say not many people saw that happening in March!

The good news for them is that their destiny is in their own hands. Eighth spot is theirs to lose. But with only eight wins still next to their name, the Bombers will most probably require four more victories to sew up a finals berth — that means beating either Sydney or the Bulldogs at a minimum, which won’t be easy. 

9th: Richmond Tigers

32 points, 100.8% 
Run home:
 Geelong (MCG), Fremantle (OS), North Melbourne (MCG), GWS (GS), Hawthorn (MCG)

The Tigers aren’t familiar with these surroundings at this time of year, but to their credit, they’re hanging in there after bringing a spectacular four-game losing streak – which included defeats to lowly Gold Coast Suns and Collingwood – to a halt.

But just as things started looking slightly rosy for them on Friday night, they copped yet another serious injury — this time to the talismanic Martin. Their injury list already featured most of their starting backline in Noah Balta (ankle), Nathan Broad (ankle), Bachar Houli (ankle) and Nick Vlastuin (knee) as well as important midfielder Dion Prestia (hamstring). It now contains Kamdyn McIntosh (hamstring). The run home on paper isn’t overly challenging, but it would take a mighty effort for the Tigers to win four of their last five, especially with the red-hot Geelong Cats next up.

10th: Fremantle Dockers

32 points, 92.5% 
Run home:
 Sydney (Met), Richmond (OS), Brisbane (OS), West Coast (OS), St Kilda (MS)

The Dockers shot themselves in the foot against Carlton in round 16. It was a game they really should've won, but horrendous goal-kicking cost them. So, instead of sitting in the top eight right now, they find themselves a couple of spots, a win and plenty of percentage on the outer.

They too need four more wins to give themselves a red-hot chance of qualifying for September action, but with engagements against top-eight sides Sydney Swans, Brisbane and West Coast to come, it’s not looking likely, especially as they’ve only beaten one such side this year – the Swans – by just two points.

Champion skipper Nat Fyfe battling his way through the rest of the season with a clearly compromised shoulder that will require post-season surgery isn’t helping their cause either.

11th: St Kilda

32 points, 86.6 % 
Run home:
 West Coast (OS), Carlton (MS), Sydney (MS), Geelong (KP), Fremantle (MS)

Like Fremantle, the Saints will look back on a recent loss as probably the precise moment that cost them a finals spot. They headed into Saturday’s game with Port Adelaide full of momentum on the back of three consecutive wins — their best form for the year. But despite the Power being ravaged by injuries, the Saints couldn’t find a way past them.

The result took a lot of the air out of St Kilda’s sails, but in truth, they were the authors of their own demise well before Round 18. They started the year with a shocking 5-8 record, including four smashings that have badly damaged their percentage. As a result, Brett Ratten’s side would almost certainly have to win each of their final five games and with encounters against the Eagles, Swans and Cats still to come, that is looking highly unlikely.

12th: Greater Western Sydney (GWS)

30 points, 95.5% 
Run home:
 Essendon (TBC), Port Adelaide (TBC), Geelong (KP), Richmond (GS), Carlton (MS)

The Giants have been one of the most enigmatic sides of the season. Capable of beating teams like Melbourne and Sydney, but also losing to sides like Gold Coast and Hawthorn and drawing with North Melbourne Kangaroos.

Season 2021 will definitely go down as a "what if" year for coach Leon Cameron and his men, who suffered the ultimate insult on the weekend, losing to arch-rivals Sydney after blowing a six-goal lead. It was a result that just about served as the final nail in Greater Western Sydney’s coffin and while they are still a chance to finish in the top eight, it’s hard to see them beating Port Adelaide Power or the Cats. And when you have such little margin for error like GWS does, that spells a bottom-ten finish.

13th: Carlton

28 points, 93.9% 
Run home:
 North Melbourne (MS), St Kilda (MS), Gold Coast (MS), Port Adelaide (AO), GWS (MS)

The Blues have certainly given their under-fire coach David Teague some much-needed breathing space in recent weeks, with three wins from their last four games — however, they have almost certainly left their run too late.

Carlton has no choice but to win its final five games if it is any chance of capturing an unlikely finals spot. And while it’s not exactly the most difficult run home, the team does have to face the Power at Adelaide Oval. That match looms as the most pivotal of Carlton's last five. Given it is 1-7 against top-eight sides (that one win coming against the Bombers who have only just entered the top eight), Carlton's chances of beating Port Adelaide aren’t great — therefore, neither are their finals chances.

*KEY
G – Gabba, Brisbane
GS – Giants Stadium, Sydney
KP – Kardinia Park, Geelong
Met – Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast
MS – Marvel Stadium, Melbourne
OS – Optus Stadium, Perth
TBC – To be confirmed

Ronny Lerner has been a sports and music journalist/editor since 2006. Follow Ronny on Twitter @RonnyLerner.

Morrison Reminds Australian Olympic Athletes That It’s Not A Race

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 15/07/2021 - 12:09pm in

Tags 

Sport

With the Tokyo Olympics set to begin, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has reminded Australia’s runners and swimmers that it’s not a competition.

“It’s not a race. It’s not a competition. Every single one of you will get the chance to complete your relevant event within an appropriate timeframe, but we don’t need to panic. Everyone will get the chance to finish,” he said.

In a speech designed to inspire the Australian team before next Friday’s opening ceremony, Mr Morrison encouraged athletes not to set targets. “A lot of you seem to be giving yourself a goal to win a medal or achieve a certain time. But that will just mean you’ll need to take responsibility down the track. Can I suggest you put together a Four Phase Allocation Horizon for your event instead.

“And let’s stop this obsession with other countries. If you’re swimming in a 100m heat and you see someone from another country ahead of you, that’s irrelevant. Totally irrelevant. This isn’t some sort of international competition, it’s the Olympic Games”.

He reminded all Australian athletes that they would begin at the front of the line and should expect to be at the finish by October. “Now whether that’s October this year or October next year I can’t say. But we do expect you to be finished in time for the next Olympics”.

Pressure cooker valve: the AFL and the business of sport

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 01/07/2021 - 10:08am in

Tags 

reviews, Sport

All aspects of life have been disrupted by COVID-19, including entertainment—from live music, cinema and the arts to the deep-rooted popular football codes, Australian rules and rugby league.

Simultaneously, the pandemic has exposed and magnified the fault-lines of profit, power, sexism and racism in this class society. Michael Warner’s book The Boys’ Club sets out to examine the inner workings of the Australian Football League (AFL)—run as a particularly obnoxious capitalist business.

Warner’s criticisms of the Melbourne-based executive of the AFL Commission shine a light on the business model of a powerful section of the Melbourne ruling class.

As Frank Galbally, QC and former Collingwood board member, says: “If you want to do anything in Victoria, if you want to get to anybody in Victoria, the way to do it is through an AFL club. 

“If you know a [club] president, you know someone in the AFL, that’s the way to get to politicians, get whatever you like. They all think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.  

“It’s the power of Australian Rules football. And more particularly in Victoria than anywhere else.”

Behemoth

Warner, in his bid to “reform” the AFL executive’s hold, traces the roots of it becoming the unaccountable, sexist behemoth that is today. 

The AFL, its predecessor—the Victorian Football League (VFL)—and the individual football clubs have always been run by businessmen, emphasis on “men”, with tight connections inside the ruling class of Melbourne.  

All the people Warner interviews are part of the ruling class, although with the shift from the VFL to the AFL not all from Melbourne.

Richard Goyder, the Chair of the AFL Commission, is also head of Wesfarmers and Qantas. He lives in Peppermint Grove in Perth, which former WA Liberal Premier, Colin Barnett, once dubbed “the Monaco of WA”.

In Sydney, rugby union plays this networking role in a lesser way, as the sporting wing of the Liberal Party. 

Warner shows how the AFL Commission office has a toxic culture of sexism, with many women forced to leave their dream job because of the entitled misogyny of the male bosses. This is despite having women commissioners like Linda Dessau, the Governor of Victoria.

The book details the splits and cracks inside the ruling class, especially over the AFL executive’s high-handed and sexist workplace behaviour and how it deals with crises such as player drug-use, racism and betting. The AFL garners 8 per cent of its revenue from betting.

But while Warner understands the AFL is a successful business, highlights the bad practices of that business model and acknowledges its pulling power, he doesn’t explain why this sport has such traction inside the working class. 

There are 613,000 members of the 10 AFL clubs in Victoria, almost 1 in 9 residents of the state. Workers follow and play football but it is not “a working class game”. 

The AFL recognises its first direct predecessor game as taking place in July 1858 between two elite schools, Melbourne Grammar and Scotch College.

Like rugby, one of Australian rules’ predecessor codes, this new sport was a product of English private schools, which idolised “manliness” as a prerequisite for the running of a colonial empire.

Candid

Upper-class schools divided their students into “houses”, which became competing tribes. The ruling class used this as a template for dividing and ruling society at large. 

Warner interviews the “Who’s Who” of the ruling class of Melbourne, including former Liberal Premier Jeff Kennett, former president of the Hawthorn Football Club. Kennett is candid about the role AFL plays.

“For so many people, after their family and place of employment, AFL football gives them the opportunity to vent their spleen in support or opposition … It is, for so many people, the pressure cooker valve.”

People watch sport because of the alienation of work under capitalism. It is an escape from drudgery—but even here the bosses aim to commodify workers’ leisure time. As Gillon McLachlan, CEO of the AFL and a scion of the South Australian McLachlan family, said: “For me, the vision is about having an unassailable hold on the Australian community.”

Another component part of the AFL’s appeal is nationalism. Here is apparently the “Australian game” unlike the imported rugby league or soccer.

The Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky wrote in the mid-1930s: “In the sphere of philanthropy, amusements and sports, the bourgeoisie and the church are incomparably stronger than we are. We cannot tear the working class youth from them except by means of the socialist programme and revolutionary action.” 

When the system is being fought by workers then sport will play a less important part in their lives. 

By Tom Orsag 

The Boys’ Club: Power Politics and the AFL by Michael Warner
Hachette Australia, $32.99

The post Pressure cooker valve: the AFL and the business of sport appeared first on Solidarity Online.

MS Fundraising Appeal: a big success

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 26/06/2021 - 1:14pm in

My fundraising appeal for MS (Multiple Sclerosis) Brissie to the Bay was a huge success, raising $3100 to support services including physiotherapy, service coordination, counselling and symptom management as well as MS research to look for better treatments and ultimately a cure for this dreadful disease.


Special thanks to generous donor Chris Caton, Tom Davies, David Godden and,Graeme Orr all of whom gave $100 or more, and especially to super-generous Chris Murphy. I know not everyone has a lot of spare cash, so thanks to all who gave what they could afford.


I wasn’t able to take part in the big ride, as I was out of town, but I did a solo 100km ride, as well as a marathon earlier in June. I am so fortunate to have kept the good health that allows me to do these things, and glad to be able to do something to help people who haven’t been so lucky.

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