Christmas memories

By: Blogger

Sideline Sid
Sports correspondent & historian

Christmas 1976 brought Sideline Sid a present that he still delights in today, when he received the "DB Sporting Records of New Zealand" from under the family Christmas tree.

In the 1970's and 1980's, Moa Publications brought out a number of sporting annuals around early November each year.

Dominion Breweries were associated with the annuals which in today's world would be called naming rights.

Sydney Todd, who had previously written "Champions All" gathered together a myriad of sporting records, together to produce the "DB Sporting Records of New Zealand".

Last week’s announcement from HPSNZ (High Performance Sport New Zealand) of their latest funding cycle, showed the change in the national sporting landscape over the last four to five decades.

Sideline Sid’s 1976 sporting bible contained, as would be expected, Olympic and Commonwealth Games success along with rugby, cricket, athletics, swimming, cycling, yachting and rowing.  

However, some of the other entries relive a time when sport and recreation were bedfellows and many entries are today considered recreation activities.

Billiards and snooker were extremely popular a near half-century ago.

Wood chopping, rodeo, shearing, ploughing and marching would attract big crowds to their events and occupied plenty of space in the sporting bible.

Other entries included big game fishing and angling records, quarter horse racing, balloning, pigeon racing, mountaineering, parachuting and the (then) relatively new sports of hang gliding, wrist wrestling and trampolining.

There was even mention of novelty sports including coal shoveling, oyster opening, King of the Mountain which morphed into mountain running and frisbee and gum boot throwing.

The HPSNZ new funding model sees sports classified as either 'Podium' (likely to succeed at pinnacle events or 'Aspirational' (previously categorised as campaign sports, which inspire New Zealanders in different ways).

There are seven 'Podium' Olympic sports of rowing, cycling, yachting, athletics, canoe racing, equestrian and rugby sevens, along with three Paralympic sports.

The aspirational list includes several new-age sports such as skate boarding, sport climbing and e-sports.

HPSNZ will also fund motor racing, surf lifesaving, karate, surfing, bowls, squash and touch, which all tend to sit outside the radar of mainstream sport in the country.

Many of the so-called new-age sports, first  came to sports fans attention at the first X (Extreme) Games held in the USA in June 1995.

Organised and produced by ESPN, the made for television sporting event brought the likes of Tony Hawk’s dazzling skateboarding tricks into the limelight.

Olympic skateboarding had Sideline Sid mesmerised with scintillating action and the unconventional attire of the participants.

He can't wait for the Winter Olympics next year with the big air skiing and snowboarding, with success or failure often resting on a knife-edge.

It would be interesting if we could gaze into the magic-bowl of the future to see the sporting landscape in another half century.