Has money ruined sport?

Professional sport in Otago and New Zealand. Discuss. Is professionalism ruining sport? Or enhancing it?

Should we have sympathy for professional sports organisations struggling to pay the bills?

Or do they only have themselves to blame? Are the grass roots withering because the elite sector of sport is sucking up all the funding?

Or is there simply less money available? Are leading athletes paid too much? Or not enough?

If "the model is broken", then what is the solution? And what does "cutting our cloth to fit" really mean?

Is New Zealand simply too small a country to sustain the present amount of professional sport?

Perhaps there are no simple answers to those questions.

But we hope to stir up some debate with our series, Survival Game, which will appear in the Otago Daily Times over the next week.

Prompted by the severe financial troubles encountered by, principally but not exclusively, the Highlanders, Otago rugby and now the Steel netball franchise, our series will look at some of the issues vexing the professional codes.

We start today with some background to the struggles suffered by organisations in the South and in other parts of the country.

Next week, we call in the experts to examine the state of professional sport in New Zealand, look at the impact television has had on the major codes, and consider the difficult topic of whether spiralling player wages are a problem.

The series will end with an examination of how some of the problems might be solved, and the views of those who are trying to turn around troubled organisations.

Most importantly, we want to know what you - the readers, the fans, the critics whose voices count the most - think about the state of professional sport, the struggles faced by Otago rugby and other organisations, and what the future might hold.

Email (hayden.meikle@odt.co.nz), write (Survival Game, ODT sports department, PO Box 517, Dunedin 9054) or go online (www.odt.co.nz) with your thoughts, and a selection will be published next week.


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