A thought-bubble about cheerleading

At its heart, the most basic job of a professional sporting event is to make money. You’ve got to get people there, get them enjoying themselves and get them to come back and do it all again, preferably with their friends.  Some leagues may be in the lucky position of having their funding completely independent of their ability to draw and keep a crowd. Most places, though, most places need a crowd and need their fans.

People have to enjoy themselves  enough to want to come back and they have to want to bring their friends as well.  The thing that is bothering me is where cheerleaders fit into this. And while I acknowledge that cheerleading is a pretty cool and athletic thing to do in its own right, that’s often not what we see on field and not the point of what we see on the field.

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ABL roadtrip wrap

Getting to teach these guys every day was worth getting up for.

I really, really loved this class. I’m still in contact with 5 of the kids in this picture.

The season is over and from my perspective it ended far, far too quickly, as I really only got the bit from mid-December through to the Championship Series.*  I watched the first games of ABL season 2014/15 as I was in the process of wrapping up my life as an English teacher in Jecheon-si and getting ready to go for a stint exploring Taiwan**.

My season is really divided into two pieces – the section where I was relying on streaming broadcasts for games and the section where I was actually roadtripping.

Staying Engaged for the first half of the season

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ABL Roadtrip surprise extras – Canberra Cavalry at Sydney Blue Sox, 25 January 2015

With the news that postponed games from my first attempt at seeing the Blue Sox would not be played, I decided to try and get down to Sydney in time to catch at least one of the last series. I needed to resolve the confusion of ‘Am I finished?’ into ‘Roadtrip unambiguously complete’.

Just your regular insanely beautiful morning in Oxley Wild Rivers National Park.

Just your regular insanely beautiful morning in Oxley Wild Rivers National Park.

With that in mind, I serviced the car (and paid for a new exhaust – who knew that tiny 3-door hatches aren’t supposed to sound like small jet-aircraft?) and headed for Sydney via Armidale and Tamworth.  I won’t go into any detail about the drive, but I highly recommend driving from Grafton to Glen Innes across the Gibraltar Ranges. Magic. And the gorges along waterfall way are pretty damn stunning also. *

The first thing I did upon regaining phone reception was to check the standings and found that the Blue Sox had cinched third spot, so it was likely that the stadium wouldn’t fill up.  Sad I missed the games in Sydney and Perth to see what happened, but thanks to the magic of the internet, I can catch up with those games at my leisure.

Huge floppy hat, sunnies, Sayulita-sarong drenched in water and draped fetchingly about my shoulders. A tonne of sunscreen. I'm ready for baseball!

Huge floppy hat, sunnies, Sayulita-sarong drenched in water and draped fetchingly about my shoulders. A tonne of sunscreen. I’m ready for baseball!

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ABL Roadtrip Games 6 & 7 – Sydney Blue Sox at Brisbane Bandits,  16 & 17 January 2015

Last stop on the tour! Homeplate at Holloway Field. 5500km driven, 6 stadiums visited, 7 games watched.  But for Sydney, the roadtrip is complete!

Last stop on the tour! Homeplate at Holloway Field. 5500km driven, 6 stadiums visited, 7 games watched. But for Sydney, the roadtrip is complete!

These two games were the planned end of the ABL Roadtrip.  5500km of driving to reach six stadiums in 3.5 weeks. My completist urges had been stymied by Sydney’s bad weather, but the driving and camping had happened exactly as anticipated.

I do not recommend that you rely on Google Maps GPS for finding your way around Brisbane. At one point, spiralling up out of a tunnel the whole thing struck me as massively funny. I know I’m supposed to be over there and there is a road that goes directly over there and here I am, navigating toll-road luge lanes  over here.  I actually like driving luge lanes – my favourite piece of road that I’ve driven is the swoopy single-lane bridge on the I-93 exit to Storrow Drive in Boston.*

On the second day, when I told the GPS ‘no toll roads’, it worked perfectly, except that it didn’t know that all of the bits of the M3 are all still the same road, even if did bend a little to the left just there.

It's really a bit nice here in the late-afternoon sunlight.

It’s a bit nice here at Holloway Field in the late-afternoon sunlight.

Coming into the Bandits carpark is an exercise in entertainment, Continue reading

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