The show must go on

published on November 4 2020
by William Ryan and Katherine Smyrk
under ,


Sport is at home in Melbourne, just like a sausage is at home in bread, or the sun is at home on a summer’s day. But as Melburnians endured one of the world’s longest lockdowns, its teams have had to push through what has become the weirdest year in Australia’s sporting history. Even through all of this, sport has remained no less essential, and Melbourne’s teams have not only adapted, they’ve thrived.

Way back in March, when Victoria’s cumulative case numbers recorded well below 1000, the F1 Grand Prix was cancelled. It was a sign that nothing was immune to the impacts of COVID-19. The Food and Wine Festival was next to go, followed closely by the Comedy Festival. Melbourne, deprived of these events, seemed like a dropped snag.

As the second wave descended like flies on said snag, the capital of culture seemed to be losing a hopeless battle.

But the tides are turning, and Melbourne’s grip on its cultural institutions is tightening. Today, despite all, the Melbourne Cup went ahead. And while the AFL Grand Final was hosted in Brisbane, Melbourne was sure to remind its country of where the game came from. Two Victorian teams clashed on the day, and the quintessentially Melbourne Richmond Tigers took home the cup, their third since 2017. The game was watched by a national average TV audience of 3.8 million, peaking at 4.3 million. For Melbournians, the average audience of 1.58 million marked its highest ever for a Grand Final, up 50 per cent on last year.

The Melbourne Storm took home the NRL cup that same weekend, in front of a national average TV audience of 2.9 million and a peak of 3.4 million. Both games represented a sizable boost in audiences from last year.

The success of both is testament to the immortality of these games, and it’s good news for advertisers, guerrillas included. With million glued to their screens, sporting events are huge opportunities for brands to flex their creative muscles. A particularly bold example saw a local comedy duo, Marty and Michael, jump the barricade of the AFL Grand Final wearing T-shirts with their names on them and kick a goal each, before being tackled and escorted off by security. The men are scheduled to appear at the Brisbane Magistrates Court on 7 December, where they face a maximum fine of $5000. Not a bad price to pay for the level of exposure they achieved?

The continuation of sport is a reminder that when the choice is between adapting and dying out, Aussie sport lovers will choose to adapt every time. The WNBL has shown their commitment to this mantra, with the upcoming season to be contested entirely in a hub in North Queensland. All eight teams will be playing in a condensed six-week format, concluding with a Grand Final scheduled for Sunday 20 December.

As firm believers in the importance and power of women’s sport, Pesel & Carr will be entering its fifth season partnering with the Deakin Melbourne Boomers – Australia’s oldest running women’s sporting team. The Boomers’ Grand Final hopes last season were dashed short by a narrow semi-final defeat, so they are itching to return with a vengeance. They are currently quarantining in North Queensland, along with the 18-month-old daughter of new recruit Ashleigh Karaitiana.

It’s fitting evidence that, for Melbourne’s sporting teams, the show must go on – no matter what.

Moon dog

As a cheese lover, this news caught my attention, that the moon is looking increasingly habitable and cheesy! Last week, NASA found water on the Moon, raising hopes for exploration and habitation.

Of course, this also reminds me that dogs have never walked on the Moon. To date, several national space programs have flown animals into space, to their credit. The Soviet Union, the United States, France, Argentina, China, Japan and Iran have all been responsible for giving animals the intergalactic experience. Space has opened itself up to monkeys, dogs, tortoises, mice and insects.

Yet only men seem to enjoy the privilege of walking that cheese-like sphere. This fact is lamented by dogs all over the world, manifested in their long sorrowful nightly howls at the Moon.

Finally, since its first landing with humans in 1972, NASA has outlined plans to send a woman to the lunar surface. I’d be interested in flying a dog up to meet her there and that dog is me. I will fetch a space rock, confirm there is cheese, mark my territory, and become an inspiration to all dog-kind (photo for reference).