Friday, 29 April 2011

People Are L'Estrange

   So it all comes to a head tonight in Dorkland, with the New Zealand Breakers just forty minutes away from being the first Kiwi club side to win a Trans-Tasman sports tournament. It won’t be easy, but the Comments Team is confident they’ll get it done, with Kirk Penney storming back into form when it really matters. They may not ever get a better chance than this, so here’s hoping they cap their excellent season off in a deserving manner.
   While we’re on a basketball theme, a correspondent got in touch with us in response to our plea for info on the NBA Playoffs, and many thanks to Marc Call Me Marco ‘Fever’ L’Estrange for this piece:

People Are L’Estrange

2011 NBA playoffs?

Where do I start?  So, so, so good.  This year all the teams seemed to be stacked with superstars, who are simultaneously at the start or tail-end of their peaking years.
My pick is Chicago, but honestly there are 5-6 really good teams.  Most of the world will be wishing Miami to lose except for all those frontrunner-fan-jumpers who will be waiting with anticipation to burn their Kobe jerseys, and on the net waiting to buy their Miami heat gear, if Miami make it through.

The greatest thing I have found about the NBA recently is their willingness to embrace the digital age.  For US 20 bucks a month you can watch over the net every game that is played in HD.  The system is set up like a hard drive recorder, so you can pause live games, and pick up later. If you get home late, you can fire up any games that have been played in the last month and watch, with or without the final score available.  For every game they will also tag key moments or dunks, and you can jump straight to the highlights if you wish.  20bucks and you can join or quit at any time, 30 teams playing 82 regular season games each, that’s a lot of bball.  I would recommend you do it NOW for the playoffs for "journalistic research purposes". nbaleaguepass. Go Chicago.  Anyway, given that the league pass has plenty of free coverage on youtube or or, NBA seems to really get that people are going to be downloading, so they might as well provide a quality product themselves.   (my broadband usage is up lately).
- Marc Call Me Marco ‘Fever’ L’Estrange

   Great stuff there from Mark, and some especially interesting Comments on the NBA’s embracing of online coverage. For any sport with worldwide appeal- or a desire to spread into international markets- there obviously needs to be a recognition of time-zone issues, and the hard drive recorder style system that Mark mentions is an excellent way to adapt to that. And $20 is, as Mark says, a very fair price to pay for so many games.
   Also interesting to hear that Chicago are back on top after years in the doldrums following the Jordan Era. The Comments Team is extremely dated in our knowledge of the NBA, so if anyone else cares to chip in we’d be highly appreciative. As a thank you to ‘Fever’, here’s a link to one of his favourite bands (we recall), and their slick new vid, Fight For Your Right Revisited. 30 minutes of goodness.
   Our next report comes from another correspondent, this time KoreanKurtz. His piece is ostensibly about Korean baseball, but, in typical fashion for KK, quickly degenerates into a rant against Racist Authoritarianism. See for yourselves:

The New Zealand Government, Brought To You By

   The 2011 Korean Baseball Season kicked off earlier this month, and what a relationship killer this competition is. There are eight teams, four based in Seoul and four from the rest of Korea, and they play six days a week. Yes, six days, every week, with Monday being the only off-day. As you might imagine, if you are a fan of this league, it can horribly dominate your time, leaving little space for anything, or anyone, else. Coupled with the fact that games on average take around three and a half hours from start to finish and this can spell relationship doom.
I attended my first home game of the season last night, and what fun it was. I enjoy watching my team- the Doosan Bears- play on TV, but as I’m not really a massive baseball fan, I can’t really abide watching other sides play. With football for example, I’ll watch anyone play anyone, but for me baseball is really only about the Beers, I mean Bears. And getting along to the stadium is what it’s all about.
   With six games played a week, teams play at home against one team three nights in a row, then on the road against a different side for three nights. And with four sides based in Seoul, this means plenty of chances to see your team play live. You might think that so many games would be a kind of over-saturation, resulting in sparse crowds, especially on weeknights. Well, you’d be wrong. The Bears home stadium holds 30,000, and will be sold out Friday through Sunday, and on Tuesday through Thursdays you’ll still get around 25,000 per game. This has a lot to do with the incredible population density in Seoul (around twenty million people), and the fact that many people from around Korea have moved to the capital, ensuring huge support for the non Seoul-based teams.
   The result of this is a truly awesome spectator experience, with fanatical fans creating a wonderful atmosphere at every match. Having never attended a baseball game before moving to Korea, within five minutes of my first Bears game I was totally hooked, and after three and a half years in Korea, the Bears are jostling with St Kilda, the Phoenix and the Wellington Lions for second spot in my sporting heart behind the Arsenal.
   Which is where this piece takes a dark turn. The missus and I are giving some thought about a return to Australasia at some point in the future, and one thing I will sorely miss is getting along to a baseball game. Luckily there are many excellent Korea-based websites where matches can be downloaded just hours after their completion. I consoled myself with this knowledge until recently, when the NZ Government decided  to institute their wonderful new Internet legislation. Now were I to move to NZ, I would no longer be able to follow my beloved Bears.
And then suddenly it occurred to me: my missus, who is from Korea, would also suffer greatly. Naturally she enjoys many Korean shows, and is also something of a news junkie. But were we to move to NZ she would be prosecuted for attempting to download and enjoy these forms of entertainment in her native language. Of course I knew there were many many fu*ked-up aspects to the new laws, but I hadn’t previously realised just what an undercurrent of racism was also present. Basically the NZ Government is saying that if you have moved to NZ from another country and wish to download media content from your home nation then you can just fu*k right off. That they are dictating to Kiwis in a completely authoritarian manner which movies we can watch and where we can watch them, which music we can listen to and where we must buy it from, and which TV shows we can watch and where we must see them broadcasted is readily apparent; the fact that they are saying to immigrants that the best source of connection to your home country is now against the law is much more insidious and underhanded.
   The point I’m getting at is that there are some forms of media that aren’t accessible in NZ. The government says if it’s not broadcasted or sold in NZ, then buy it on Amazon; have someone send it to you; or miss out. Cheers, you wankers. Think about poor unfortunates like an old associate of mine, Mr Rickus Prebblicus. He has a yen for both African and obscure Scottish Highlands music, which can easily be sourced on peer-to-peer file sharing sites. But can you find it at your government-approved Sony music shite pop tunes flogging stores: no. So now, he misses out, or gets prosecuted.
Or look at things from another perspective: one of our correspondents, Sean of the Deep South, is a huge football fan who is unwilling to shell out his cash to the monopoly that controls sports broadcasting in NZ. In a recent email to the Comments Team he thanked us for turning him on to PirateBay, where he can now download the weeks Premier League Highlights and watch them for free, something he has been unable to enjoy for the best part of twenty years. Well now the government is saying to him that he has a choice: spend money on Sky TV rather than his kids, or be prosecuted for enjoying eighty minutes of football each week. Bollocks, bollocks, bollocks.

Contrary to what you may believe, I’m not a total idiot and I do recognise that there needs to be adequate enforcement of copyrighting laws. But if anyone out there believes that: a) the recently passed law in NZ is the best, or fairest, or most sensible way to do it; or, b) that there aren’t some hugely vested interests involved in the form of giant, increasingly monopolistic industry dominating corporate behemoths, then you are very very much mistaken.

   Wow, and you thought this was a sports blog, eh? That’s about it for today: big weekend in the Prem for the relegation threatened teams, and we’ll have some reports on that come Monday. Also, if the Arse beat Man U and Chelsea beat Sp*rs, suddenly the title race might be on again.
   Lastly, for those of you unfortunate enough to sit through the execrable spectacle that was Defense Is Our Only Goal Real Madrid vs Diving Whinging Ref Surrounding Barcelona, The Fiver, as ever, has summed it up nicely, as can be seen here.

   Enjoy your weekends, and go the Breakers.


  1. Fantastic guest appearance Marco. You may have inspired me to chip in with something on the ancient and honourable art of fisticuffs. Especially considering 55,000 canadians are watching their golden boy Georges St. Pierre defend his UFC title tomorrow.

    It's truly the most exciting sport in the world people. As good as watching Messi score without having to wait for two hours. And unlike his teammates, when people fall down they have genuinely been kicked in the face.


  2. OK just to be clear about one thing - if the thing you want to download in the future isn't owned by a giant media conglomerate you will be fine. If Sony aren't selling it, they won't care that you're downloading it (for example). The sky-prem-piratebay example might lead to trouble though. That said, the law is obviously an ass, and apparently easily dodged by the technosavvy anyway. Mostly a scare tactic is what I'm hearing.