Why Christmas Day sport is here to stay
The NBL has broken Australian sport’s Christmas Day drought.
Credit: Dan Bennett Photography
The Sydney Kings’ 101-80 victory over Melbourne United yesterday, brought the arrival of Christmas Day sport into Australia for the first time. Paul Smith, co-owner of the Kings, said in July that the NBL was “changing society” by playing professional sport on December 25. While Smith was playing to an appeasing audience with those comments, there is an undeniable truth to the sentiment he has been trumpeting since the game was announced.
The matchup will likely open the floodgates for Christmas Day sport in Australia. We are a nation of late adaptors. Our sporting ecosystem is no different. In literary terms, Australian sporting ideals are laggards on The Law of Diffusion of Innovation lifecycle. The law, a concept popularised in literature circles by Everett Rogers and then for a digital generation by Simon Sinek, examines how ideas are spread among groups of people and how innovations are not adopted by all individuals in a social system at the same time. At a macro level, Australian sport has stubbornly stuck to the concept that Christmas Day competition is a sacred cow. Thanks to the NBL, the change is now coming.
I would bet everything I own that cricket (BBL) will soon be trumpeting their marquee matchups next time Santa comes to visit. The A League will follow, as will every commercially sound operation that sees dollars to be made. And why? Because Christmas Day is one of the best days of the year to watch sport. The shops are closed, people are congregated at home, and there is a growing generation that can enjoy only so much family time, which makes this a commercial slam dunk.
As more commercially prioritised ownership circles enter the NBL and Australian sport, sporting clubs will slowly start trending international and become financial billboards to attract families gathered around the Christmas dinner table. This development will also enforce a philosophy that we discussed in September when reviewing media coverage: Australian sports fans are smarter than the ecosystem gives them credit for. Offer the product (sport on Christmas) and allow those with an interest to consume it, and do so without the fear of offending a small minority who will avoid it for their own ideological reasons.
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