For fans of international sport, these may appear to be the best of times. Top-level international competition seems to be taking place all the time. But is that actually a good thing?In rugby union, for example, it wasn’t that long ago that the northern hemisphere nations would only face Australia or New Zealand every few seasons. Now the autumn internationals are an annual fixture.
In rugby league, too, the visit of the touring Kangaroos was something to be savoured. Now the Four Nations Championship comes around every year.
In cricket, the national teams are playing each other in Test matches and one-day games virtually all year round, and although the World Cup is still only every four years, the World Twenty 20 competition takes place in between.
In many individual sports, the top athletes used to meet only at the Olympics, or perhaps a world championship. Now, they may spend most of the year together on a touring elite-level competition.
Well, for sports fans that all sounds great. But maybe we now have too much of a good thing. Perhaps the clash of England and Australia at cricket, for example, is no longer the grand occasion it used to be, as it seems to happen every five minutes.
This may sound like the talk of grumpy old men: “We were happier in the old days, even though we had less.” But a look at attendance figures may bear out the complaint: poor crowds at the 2010 autumn rugby union internationals prompted much concern and we’ve noted more supply than demand for international cricket tickets this year.
What to do? Well, it’s hard to see how the genie of wall-to-wall international sport can be put back into its bottle. The media need a constant supply of big events, and there is a whole industry based around the selling of sponsorship and hospitality for them.
Perhaps we just have to acknowledge that more sometimes gives us less.
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