When is a New Zealander not a real New Zealander . . . ?
When he willingly chases the dollar and takes the America’s Cup away from Auckland.
If (and it’s a sizeable if) Team NZ boss Grant Dalton gives the city of sails the middle finger and takes sport’s oldest prize offshore then he is the biggest traitor in the history of New Zealand sport.
Yep, bigger than Coutts, Butterworth and Barker put together. (Full disclosure — I don’t actually think any of these sailors are traitors, but since rampant nationalism and the America’s Cup go hand in hand, I couldn’t help but wade on in.)
If unconfirmed reports are true, TNZ has already fielded offers from overseas cities keen on hosting the next event in 2021. A hosting fee of around $116 million has been thrown around, although a TNZ spokesperson claims that number is inflated.
It is awfully convenient for TNZ to have these rumours made public because it gives them greater negotiating power than it would otherwise have had.
As expected, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Auckland City Mayor Phil Goff have been questioned as to how much New Zealand can throw at this thing, but the upshot is we are none the wiser.
Ardern refused to elaborate on how much the Labour Government would be willing to spend to ensure the event would be sailed in Auckland.
For his part, Goff was bullish when pressed on TV3’s The Nation about paying a hosting fee.
“Am I going to compete with Sochi, the Russian Mafia in that city and the Middle East, Abu Dhabi, to pay $116m? Not on your life. There is a bottom line for us, I am the guardian for the ratepayers’ money, and I don’t have $116m or anything of a fraction like that to throw at it,” he said.
We know Auckland City will be paying millions of dollars to upgrade facilities and build quality infrastructure ahead of 2021. We know the National Government has already given TNZ $5 million to spend on the recruitment and retention of key personnel.
How much public money does a privately-run syndicate ask for before it is taking the piddle?
This team has traded on our national identity for decades and has lapped up all the fawning the New Zealand public has offered up.
To entertain the idea of taking the America’s Cup to a neutral venue for monetary gain is a slap in the face for those who have supported them for many years.
How on earth could you justify such a self-serving, nationalistic hand-out approach for so long before taking off when the well has run dry?
We possess an astute sense of fair play in New Zealand, so there can only be one answer — you couldn’t. Let’s hope “Dalts” does the right thing — the only thing — for New Zealand yachting fans.
In actuality, this team solely represents the Royal NZ Yacht Squadron, a private yacht club in Auckland — the rightful host city for the 2021 America’s Cup.
In a surprising decision by Team NZ, helmsman Peter Burling won’t be nominated for Sportsman of the Year at the Halberg Awards.
His name was put forward by Yachting NZ but TNZ said no, they did not want Burling to be elevated above his teammates.
A strange decision really, given it would be beneficial to yachting to have his name in the conversation. Wouldn’t you rather see your guy win than have the prestigious award go to another sport?
* * *
It’s been a horrific year if you are a New Zealand rugby league fan. The Warriors bombed again despite expectation, and the Kiwis, well, they were simply dreadful when it counted at the World Cup.
David Kidwell may be remembered as one of the worst coaches in Kiwis history, as there is no way he will keep his job after that mess.
He did give us the best sporting quote of the year though: “The Key is in the We” (Kiwi, get it!) ahead of the World Cup starting.
And a close second went to Kiwis half back Shaun Johnson after the tortuous defeat to Fiji in the quarter-final: “Everyone who doubted us — the fans, media — yous got your way.” Now that would make a great T-shirt slogan.
• Thanks for reading my sporting thoughts every month. Have a great Christmas and enjoy the summer holidays. Giddyup with the good weather!