Time up for administrator of year gong

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 05:00 16/06/2012

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OPINION: The Southland Sports Awards continue to evolve.

Last Friday's night out was the best I've attended – good food, good entertainment and an excellent speaker in John Hart.

Time, however, has crept up on one of the categories – the administrator of the year gong.

I would imagine there was a time when this was an acknowledgement for those worthy types we have been featuring in our Legends of Sport series, the hard-working, behind-the-scenes types who operate with little fanfare but are actually responsible for sport happening.

Today, we have a grab-bag of paid and amateur administrators, with the odd referee and umpire thrown in.

How can a judging panel accurately weigh up the merits of an administrator who performed outstandingly in the harsh glare of the Rugby World Cup spotlight against a netball umpire at a world championship?

The answer is, it shouldn't.

The notion of an even playing-field award for administrators is outmoded and needs to be replaced by an extension of the services to sport awards, which have fallen under the jurisdiction of Sport Southland.

I won't break the confidence of the judging room, but I think it's clear that judging this year's senior awards was not an easy task.

With any luck, next year will be even more difficult – what are the chances that we'll be comparing Olympic medals?

Most people seem pretty happy to write the North v South Island experiment off as a disaster, an unwelcome intrusion on an already crowded rugby calendar.

But those of us in Dunedin last Sunday met with overwhelming positivity about the concept, even if it does seem destined to be a one-off.

If the two teams were picked according to where players played their first 15 rugby, you would create something very tribal, but it's hard to see anything but the North Island continuing its traditional dominance of the fixture.

If the South was to win only three times a decade, would interest wane?

Is there scope for some sort of All-Star game (albeit without the All Blacks) during this June test window?

It could be staged permanently in Dunedin, to guarantee dry conditions, and played on a Friday night before an All Blacks test.

I understand the motivation of those players who opted to sit out the interisland game, but a little credit needs to go to those players who did put their hand up.

Professional rugby players aren't all on the take. Good on those who have opted to turn out for their clubs this weekend too. That's giving back.

While we are on rugby, is there a better caller of the game than Scotty "Sumo" Stevenson? He'll blush when he reads this – I know he's a big fan of Straight Up – but after being a bit too "hip" in his early days in the box for my liking, he has developed a superb balance of colour, wit and insight. He unashamedly loves the game, but isn't just a cheerleader. He does his homework, but he doesn't vomit stats. In a country where we love to tear into our rugby commentators, Stevenson is undoubtedly on the rise.

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I hope Jesse Ryder knocks that radio guy out. That is all.

- The Southland Times

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