16 April 2021

Would Canberra sport survive without social media platforms?

| Tim Gavel
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The Queanbeyan Blues

The Queanbeyan Blues first-grade side and supporters celebrate with the Canberra Raiders Cup. Photo: Supplied.

Thirty years ago, if you wanted to find out the scores of Canberra community sports, such as the John I Dent Cup or the ACTAFL, it could be an arduous process.

To obtain scores at the time, the options available were to be at the ground watching; or if you couldn’t be there in person, contact somebody who was there, or wait until mainstream media reported it. There were times when it took days before the result found its way into the local newspaper.

On one occasion, I remember that by the time a final score had reached me for broadcast it was distorted to such an extent that it took a number of on-air corrections to get it right.

Prior to pay-TV, there were a couple of games televised a week on free-to-air, but if the game of interest wasn’t on free-to-air you sometimes had to wait several days before the video recording arrived in Canberra.

Matt Giteau

All three John I Dent Cup games will be live-streamed on social media platforms. Photo: Jaye Grieshaber.

It was basic, to say the least. There were no websites for sports to post results and it was often left to committed volunteers.

Mind you, in the days before social media there were decent crowds at local sport in Canberra because it was the only way to watch it.

Times have changed dramatically. This week at the launch of the John I Dent Cup Premier Rugby Union competition, it was announced that all three games would be live-streamed on social media platforms. It is the same with all winter sports in Canberra, with virtually every high-level game televised.

Capital Women's Premier League

Capital Women’s Premier League. Photo: Capital Football.

In the first round of the men’s and women’s National Premier League football on the weekend, all games were available for viewing on social media. Commentary was provided for one of the games, while the others were televised without commentary.

It was the same with the opening round of the Canberra Raiders Cup on the weekend.

Hockey ACT live-streamed games last year and this season they will be streaming one men’s and one women’s game on Friday nights.

Hockey ACT CEO Rob Sheekey says it has become an important driver in promoting the sport in Canberra.

“It helps promote our clubs and sponsors. It allows people who can’t make it to games to watch it live on social media,” he explains.

Daniel Hotchkis

Daniel Hotchkis in action at a local hockey game. Photo: Hockey ACT.

In many aspects, it has revolutionised the way we watch community sport.

It is almost as if the sports organisations have said if we are not going to get coverage in mainstream media, let’s create it ourselves in collaboration with streaming companies.

It effectively has allowed sport in Canberra to create its own content. The downside, of course, is a drop in crowd numbers because people aren’t going to games, preferring instead to watch at home.

Much has been said about the detrimental impact of social media on sport, in particular, the online bullying of athletes.

We could live without the live streaming of sport in Canberra. We have done it before, but it’s hard to imagine life without it.

Original Article published by Tim Gavel on The RiotACT.

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