Sport Sport’s new mantra: A quick game’s a good game
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Sport’s new mantra: A quick game’s a good game

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Robert Allenby will play in the revolutionary golf event. Photo: Getty
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Twenty20 cricket has a lot to answer for, with its success prompting just about every sport in Australia to try its hand at an abbreviated format.

So far this summer, we have seen Fast 4 Tennis, Fast 5 Netball and the recently completed Nitro Athletics, all featuring modified rules.

In Auckland, rugby league continued its nine-a-side pre-season competition, while rugby union has been in the headlines for the Sydney Sevens and the Brisbane Global Tens this month.

And this week it is golf’s turn, with the World Super 6 event in Perth the first of its kind.

After 54 holes of regulation play from Thursday to Saturday, the final day of action will feature the top 24 players contesting just six matchplay holes to find a winner.

Packaged nicely for television, PGA of Australia Chief Commercial Officer Stephen Ayles hopes the event will be a success.

“If you’re successful in showcasing the sport in an event … then you generate interest and exposure for your sport,” Ayles told The New Daily.

“The more you generate interest and exposure, the more you get people going to the sport, and the more people want to play.”

Ayles said the shortened format could be readily adopted by any golf club.

“The way it has been designed is that this format can be replicated at pretty much every golf club,” he added.

“You just pick six holes that flow into each other that provide a nice combination of perhaps a par five, a couple of par threes and three par fours.”

You can be sure the golf world will be watching on Sunday.

After all, change is something that even the very best players, such as former world No.1 Rory McIlroy, have demanded.

Aussies Robert Allenby and Marcus Fraser will play in a field that includes internationals Alexander Noren, Thorbjorn Olesen and Nicolas Colsaerts.

The Nitro example

Like golf, athletics often struggles for mainstream media coverage in Australia.

But that all changed with the Nitro Athletics series, in which Usain Bolt put the innovative team-based event on the back pages.

Dual Olympian Dave Culbert, the promoter of the series, told The New Daily that Nitro was designed with fans and television viewers in mind.

“The reality for athletics was that no commercial broadcaster was interested – even if it was the Olympic trials – there was no commercial sponsor and no crowds,” he said.

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So Mark Arbib – the former federal sports minister and now president of Athletics Australia – in conjunction with former Australian runner John Steffensen, and his friend Bolt, conceived something new with greater appeal.

Culbert said that athletics simply had to change.

“[In standard athletics], the athletes warm up out the back, get introduced 90 seconds before their race, run, wave, and leave,” he added.

“The idea behind Nitro is that the athletes will be out on the track for the whole night, they’ll warm up in front if the crowd, they’ll sit with their teams in a team bunker, and they’re mic-ed up so there’s interaction with the crowd.

“All of those things are taking the sport to a completely different place.”

Culbert sees another positive to the Nitro series: “I think it will keep Usain Bolt in the sport for longer. He likes athletics and he wants to do it for fun.”

Increased longevity has been evident in cricket, with several star players retiring from the longer forms but clearly enjoying playing on in the various Twenty20 leagues around the world.

Buy-in from star athletes, increased fan engagement and non-stop action packaged in a broadcast-friendly format is the new normal in professional sport, while “a quick game’s a good game” is now the mantra at all levels.

And any sport that isn’t adapting is already withering and fading from view.

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