OPINION: TV deals, Chinese sailors and pink balls

HIGH end sports administration is a tough gig. In fact, it's a blood sport. Just ask former NRL chief Dave Smith.

But Smith should take a bow. He was the first to see the power of splitting the rugby league television rights into two components; free-to-air and Pay TV.

Rupert Murdoch didn't like it one bit and he jumped straight into the AFL TV rights to the tune of $1.8 billion. He was, it's rumoured, also pulling the strings to get rid of Smith. And Smith duly obliged, resigning shortly thereafter.

But Smith left a legacy and that was revealed when the NRL's Pay TV broadcast rights deal was inked this week. All up the NRL got a $2 billion payday, $200 million more than AFL.

Dave Smith is a very clever man.

And there could be some bloodletting at the Bunnies as well. Seems the Sam Burgess deal has pushed Souths over their salary cap. Some Bunnies will soon say bye-bye, so the big man can be squeezed in. Literally.

You know Christmas is just around the corner when the Sydney to Hobart yacht race previews start. And there is some exciting news ahead of this race, the 71st edition of the blue water classic.

It is not a record fleet but it's big; 110 yachts and their crews will battle the elements over the 628 nautical miles from Sydney Heads to Hobart's Constitution Dock.

In the fleet are the winners of nearly every major yacht race on the planet; the Fastnet, the Transpac, the Transatlantic, the Hong Kong-Vietnam, as well as the Sydney Hobart itself.

And 28 nations are represented, all trying to beat eight-time line honours winner, Bob Oatley's Wild Oats XI.

And among them, for the first time, are two boats from China, with two full Chinese crews. Both are from southern China, one boat races out of Sanya, the other from Shenzhen.

How these crews will handle the voyage, particularly the passage across the "paddock" (Bass Strait) will be interesting.

I had been wondering how long it would take before this would happen. You can mark my words, it won't be long before a Chinese-owned race horse wins the Melbourne Cup.

Having lived in southern China and Hong Kong, I am here to tell you that a big part of China's world domination plans are based around sport.

And Central Queensland is looking a gift horse in the mouth.

I first talked about this in May in regards to rowing.

That is, making Rockhampton a regional centre of sporting excellence, starting with rowing. With the mighty Fitzroy as the majestic venue, international rowing teams, especially from China, would fall over themselves to come here to train and learn.

We have many requirements already in place, including the proximity to Asia, the venues, the climate and the resources of CQUniversity.

We just need the vision, the money and the expertise to make it happen.

This could then expand to hockey (with Hockey Australia's CEO Cam Vale already indicating his support to transform Kalka Shades into a world class hockey playing and training facility), cycling and tennis - three sports where Rocky's sporting pedigree is world's best.

With the downturn in mining and agriculture struggling through another drought, CQ needs to create new income streams and develop other sectors.

And the services sector is one of Australia's fastest growing and one in which we excel.

Australian excellence, know-how and can-do are highly regarded, especially in Asia.

So, it's not hard to imagine Rockhampton and the region emerging over the next three decades as an Australasian sports services centre of excellence.

And, you can now add sailing to the list.

Rocky's just 30 minutes to the glorious Capricorn Coast and the southern Great Barrier Reef.

So, a pink ball and the first cricket Test match under lights in Adelaide began yesterday.

But it was business as usual for the Aussies, ripping through the Kiwis who crumbled like a stale cake.

And it's all about innovation.

Sport must innovate to evolve.



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