Editorial : The Americas Cup

Reprinted from The Common Good, No 42, Spring 2007

Any doubts about the drive by corporate New Zealand to remake our nation in the image of its sponsors, will have been dispelled by the drama over the Americas Cup and the role played by corporate sponsors. Not only did TVNZ have no fewer than seven staff there for the final races, but it seemed that practically all journalists had fled the country to the balmy waters of Valencia with major newspapers, RNZ, TV3 and other media outlets all sending staff. The reports went on ad nauseam as each reporter tried to find something to send home for the viewing public. We heard little of what the rest of Spain or the workers on the nearby docks thought about it. Most of the world couldn’t have cared less. They have as much interest in this little regatta as they do in the world rugby cup or netball world champs. These were once all amateur sports and had their place in the nation’s psyche. But as flag bearers for the corporates? That’s a different matter.

Mind you, a lot of the money had already been spent by the time the media arrived from down under. For example, BMW Oracle, skippered by Chris Dickson and based in San Francisco apparently had spent the most with $NZ375 million on their failed bid for the cup. They got knocked out in the semi-finals.

These super rich professional sailors spend their lives in sailing races. It is all good fun and it can have spin-off for industry. Everybody loves a sailor. But it is a totally non-productive type of work and not unlike the non-productive lifestyles the super rich aristocrats of a by-gone era. At one level, one might say ‘good luck’ to them as one says ‘good luck’ to elitist rugby and soccer stars. But let no one be fooled that this is anything other than what it is – the rich at play. Ultimately, who benefits? In a world of starvation and poverty, a Christian might well ask just how sinful such wastage is and who is responsible? You’ll get called a spoilsport in so doing. But that is a small barb to endure when so many live in slavery and poverty for want of resources – which are being squandered on this elite.

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