By Simon Plumb
Is this the one? Is this the year to send the followers of the Halbergs into a talkback armageddon? Well, says Simon Plumb, if it ain’t this year it ain’t never, because we have got one hell of showdown heading our way.
The awards show is very much the giddy, orgasmic climax of any self-respecting sporting year experience.
Like an immaculately dressed UFC prizefight, egos in tuxedos strut into the octagon while an alcohol-soaked audience unashamedly bangs its collective fist, baying for blood on the periphery of the caged canvas.
Whether it’s the glamorous Mann’s Chinese Theatre and the glitz of the Academy Awards, or, the slightly less glamorous Vector Arena and New Zealand’s Halberg Awards, one thing is guaranteed: An awards show will pipe car crash television directly into the brain box, and you’ll love every last drop of it.
As sure as day follows night, nothing gets this nation wailing and gnashing its teeth like it’s (rather necessarily) subjective annual sports awards where, irrespective of code, prized athletes are thrust into the Thunderdome until only one man (or woman, or team…) leaves victorious.
And even then, the fighting’s not finished.
Historically, the fallout from the Halberg Awards event has been at times staggeringly inordinate. Sure, celebrate your good and great. But judges quitting in protest? Actual public outrage over a team winning awards (ironically, for not winning a single game at a World Cup)? And, of course, the bickering at the curious and perennial success of rowing?
Yes, it’s the Halberg Awards. Yes, we’re still three months out. And yes, you’re already getting excited aren’t you? Angry even…
Well, get a load of this: All signs are we’re about to go nuclear. And this time there won’t be a single coxswain in sight.
You see, looming ominously in the black corner is the personification of New Zealand’s masculinity and international sporting prowess. After a year in which a hero captain and the pin-up player, who played the starring role in the final win over the bitter rival, both retired from the international game in the afterglow of an historic World Cup defence, how could this nation even contemplate denying the All Blacks the supreme Halberg Award?
Provincial New Zealand would surely detonate.
But wait. In the pink corner: A polite, smiling, bespectacled, 1.65m, 18-year old female. She too has made history this year, becoming the youngest ever major champion and world player of the year in a sport – fans would argue – is far more global than one played well by half-a-dozen nations, at best.
February’s Halberg’s showdown between the All Blacks and Lydia Ko is going to be a doozy. A brilliantly amusing spectator sport of online comments and talkback radio ringing off the hook for weeks on end as a nation dives, feet-first, into an annual argument nobody really wins.
Rabid and bereft of all rationale or reason, the populous embraces every ounce of parochialism and descends breathlessly into a shouting-over-the-top-of-each-other contest.
But on a serious note, if the All Whites’ Halberg win sent the Awards into a spin five years ago, imagine how this one is going to turn out.
And imagine, too, just which way the judging panel will go.
The 53rd Halberg Awards
February 18, 2016
Andy Hay, Awen Guttenbiel, Andrew Mulligan, Alison Shanks, Belinda Colling, Dana Johannsen, David Leggat, Duane Kale, Eddie Kohlhase, Farah Palmer, Fred Woodcock, Graeme Crosby, Hamish Carter, Jayne Kiely, Kevin Norquay, Marc Hinton, Mark Richardson, Michael Jones, Michelle Pickles, Mike Stanley, Phil Tataurangi, Ramesh Patel, Rikki Swannell, Ron Cheatley, Ron Palenski, Sam Ackerman, Susie Simcock, Te Arahi Maipi.
THE OFFICIAL CRITERIA
The Halberg Award will be awarded to the individual athlete, athlete in a team, or team whose achievement represented excellence in sport at the highest level.
This criteria is in turn applied to the Sportsman, Sportswoman, Disabled Sportsperson & Team awards (which are all eligible for the supreme Halberg Award), as well as the Coach award.
Regarding the criteria, the Voting Academy consider:
1. Regarding the achievement: a) was it in that sport’s ‘pinnacle event’ (eg Olympics, Paralympics, Football World Cup) b) was it a world record, or world ranking or recognition (eg ‘World Player of the Year’) and c) the quality of the field / competition.
2. The global nature of the sport.