The Official Organ of LaborNET
click here to view the latest edition of Workers Online
The Official Organ of LaborNET
Free home delivery
May 2003   

Interview: Staying Alive
CPSU national secretary Adrian O'Connell talks about the fight to keep the public service - and the union movement - alive.

Bad Boss: The Ultimate Piss Off
Wollongong workers on poverty-level wages are losing up to $5000 for taking toilet breaks, according to the union representing staff at a Stellar call centre.

Industrial: Last Drinks
Jim Marr looks at the human cost of the decision to close Sydney’s Carlton United Brewery

National Focus: Around the States
If Tampa told us that John Howard circa 2003 is the same spotted rabid dog from 1987, this week’s assault on Medicare confirms it reports Noel Hester in this national round up.

Politics: Radical Surgery
Workers are vitally interested in Medicare, not least because they traded away wage rises to get it. Now, Jim Marr writes, the Coalition Government is tearing apart the 20-year-old social contract on which it was founded.

Education: The Price of Missing Out
University students and their families will pay more for their education following the May Budget, writes Tony Brown.

Legal: If At First You Don't Succeed
Love is wonderful the second time around, goes the famous torch song. But is the same true for legislation? Asks Ashley Crossland

History: Massive Attack
Labour historian Dr Lucy Taksa remembers the general strike of 1917 to put the recent anti-war marches into perspective

Culture: What's Right
Neale Towart looks at a new book that looks at the failings of the Left, while reasserting the liberal project

Review: If He Should Fall
Jim Marr caught Irish folk-rock-punk legend Shane MacGowan at Sydney’s Metro Theatre. He was surprised but not disappointed.

Poetry: If I Were a Rich Man
Through a distortion in the time-space continuum, we have found a recording showing how people a few years into the future will deal with health care.

Satire: IMF Ensures Iraq Institutes Market Based Looting
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has agreed to monitor the Iraqi economy to ensure that the reintroduction of looting into the economy conforms with free-market theory.


The Soapbox
What May Day Means to Me
Reader Marlene McAlear penned this tribue to May Day and worker solidarity.

The Toast
Labor Council secretary John Robertson's toast to the annual May Day dinner in Sydney.

The Locker Room
The Numbers Game
In life there is lies, damned lies and sporting statistics, says Phil Doyle - but who’s counting.

Brukman Evicted
ZNet's Marie Trigona reports from the streets of Argentina in the rundown to last week's presidential election.

The Costs of Excess
Some tall business poppies had their heads lopped this week as the laws of economic gravity applied their always chaotic theory.


Solidarity Forever
Another May Day, another year gone, another year to look back on our history and celebrate the past and talk about how we can make our movement strong again.


 Mystery Men Behind Pan Bungle

 Charities Brace for Medicare Backlash

 Court Throws Out Cole Prosecutions

 Child Actor Dodges Broken Voice

 Rio Tinto: $40 Million for Boss, Eviction for Workers

 Child Care for Oldies Too

 Winning Poster Shouts at Freeloaders

 May Day Tragedy Claims Union Lives

 Westfield Cleaners to Down Mops

 Question Marks Over Nursing Home

 Burn Payout Highlights Compo Fears

 Costa Blows Whistle on Canberra Raid

 Hoops Bet on National Body

 Tear Us Down, Buttercup

 Activist Notebook

 Is Labor History?
 Bob Gould Sprays Gerard Henderson
 War and Peace
 A Strange Light
 A Little History
 Does It Have To Be?
About Workers Online
Latest Issue
Print Latest Issue
Previous Issues
Advanced Search

other LaborNET sites

Labor Council of NSW
Vic Trades Hall Council
IT Workers Alliance
Unions on LaborNET
Evatt Foundation

Labor for Refugees


The Locker Room

The Numbers Game

In life there is lies, damned lies and sporting statistics, says Phil Doyle - but who’s counting.


It has been noticed by those that care that sport is a good outlet for the repressed frustrations of would be sociopaths. Sport does offer something for obsessive compulsives and their fellow travelers (i.e. crazy people), and that something is statistics.

I mean, how fascinating can it be to discover how many tackles a player makes in a given season? I suspect if asked most players would answer "a bloody lot", while their coaches would reply "not enough".

While stats junkies may gasp in horror it must be said - do the numbers mean anything. What other activity this side of accounting (which may or may not be a sport) is so heavily dependent on numbers?

Alas, statistics are no substitute for life. The most is seldom the best and many a game has swung on one or two incidents, rather than reams of statistics. Then there is also that certain indefinable something: call it charisma, call it psyche, call it Cliffy Lions - but there is a metaphysical side to sport that can never be captured by numbers. You may as well introduce statistics as a way of measuring art, but then again accountants have already done that.

We here in the Locker Room firmly believe that what sport needs is something like the old counting system of one, two and many, so favoured by cave dwellers in Europe during the recent cold snap about 10,000 odd years ago. The advantage of this is that it would suit most forwards. In addition, it would put an end to the gibberish that certain commentators go on with when they start spouting these numbers like some demented actuary.

"Hollywood" Greg Hartley, the self-effacing Rugby League Referee, made an artform of not being able to count. Who can forget Manly scoring on the seventh tackle?

Statistics have come to the fore for your humble correspondent in recent weeks. The ambivalent nature of the television coverage of Rugby League and Australian football so far this season; the test series in the West Indies; and the release of this year's version of Ye Olde Wisdene Almanacke For Ye Recordes Of Thofe Playing At Ye Crickete have all conspired to promote the banality of numbers.

Wisden is, of course, an institution. It has more numbers than a phone book but isn't nearly as interesting. An invaluable resource for those that have too much time on their hands. It's the sort of thing that John Howard enjoys. Cricket For Dummies it is not.

Wisden this year has come up with the "astonishing" statistic (aren't they all!) that the boy from Penrith, Richie Benaud, has seen 486 Test matches - almost one-third of all Tests played.

Wonderful stuff that.

Does this tell us that Richie is the most dedicated cricket fan of all time, or that he should get out more?

Then there is the test series in the Windies. Commentators reel off statistics about grounds as if it has some impact on the event appearing before us. Of course the Windies will have won three of the last five at any given venue if they had Garner, Marshall and Richards in the three sides that won. It means diddly if they have some batspersons they found hanging around the carpark facing a bowling attack that's quicker than a Melbourne summer.

Then there's the TV scheduling for the Rugby League this year. Nine obviously trusted their statistics to program games, and Packers footsoldiers got caught with their shorts down because the best story in Rugby League has been coming out of the nation's capital. No one thoguhbt that the Green Machine would have the impact that they did. Why? They believed the statistics.

As for the AFL coverage, the poetry of a long sweeping movement in defence culminating in a spectacular grab across the half forward line and a snap on goal is being drowned in numbers. Who cares if Nathan Buckley runs eight k's in a match - its what he does while he's running that matters.

If statistics meant anything then something paying in the vicinity of $72.50 would never greet the judges at Hawkesbury - which happens.

Mind you, the bible may counsel us that the race does not always go to the swiftest, nor the fight to the strongest, but that is the way to bet.

As the coach who's "taking iut one week at a time" will tell you, the only stat that matters is the score at full time.

Phil Doyle - knocking on with the line wide open.

PS - The Locker Room dips its collective lid to "Possom" Bourne, the Kiwi rally driver. A personable chap, Bourne put a human face to hooning around state forests and will be sadly missed.


email workers to a friend printer-friendly version latest breaking news from labornet

Search All Issues | Latest Issue | Previous Issues | Print Latest Issue

© 1999-2002 Workers Online
Workers Online is a resource for the Labour movement
provided by the Labor Council of NSW
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005

Powered by APT Solutions
Labor Council of NSW Workers Online