It will be interesting to see how much the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in a couple of months captures the sporting public’s imagination. Sadly in recent years the event has lost some of its sheen.
Some feel that as the Commonwealth shrinks in size the games have less relevance on today’s sporting landscape than they did when they commenced as the British Empire Games in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada in 1930. One thing is for sure they are not a cheap event to host, and like the Olympic games rather than shrinking the number of sports participating the powers that be are looking to grow the event to include sports that may have more commercial appeal and bring in a new group of fans.
There are a total of 21 sports and a further seven para-sports which are approved by the Commonwealth Games Federation(CGF). These sports are categorised into three types. Core sports which must be included on each programme without fail, such as athletics. A host nation may select a number of optional sports which may include some team sports basketball has been one in recent times. Lastly there are “recognised sports” which are sports that have been approved by the CGF, but which are deemed to need expansion. The host nation cannot pick these sports for their event until the CGF’s requirements have been fulfilled.
Just as Sevens Rugby Union will be welcomed back to the Olympic fold – 15-a- side having been an Olympic sport previously – their rivals code Rugby League has announced today that they will playing in a showcase event prior to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games with a nine a side version and as an exhibition sport.
Representing Australia will be the 2014 SG Ball Competition Premiers, the Sydney Roosters. The event will take place across 27 and 28 June 2014 at Broadwood Stadium Glasgow. Eight Nations will compete in the Commonwealth Rugby League 9-a-side event with Australia takes its place alongside teams from Canada, England, Jamaica, PNG, Scotland, South Africa and Wales.
“After the success of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup in the UK and this year’s Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines this is another amazing opportunity to showcase the Rugby League on an international stage,” NRL Head of Football Mr Todd Greenberg said.
There is no doubt that sports with an already strong following will boost television viewership, they will also help the organisers of the Games pull in more money for the television rights, but the question has to be asked are the Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games being bastardised purely to bring in that much needed television revenue? Are not both games moving further and further away from the events that have traditionally had people on the edge of their seats every four years.
What could be worrying is if some of the sports that only gain air time every four years via the Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games are dropped in order to accommodate those who drive bigger television audiences and more money. It is a tough balancing act to run these events without losing money, but some sports need that coverage every four years to stay alive in a very competitive world, and to strip them of that will be the end for many.