Friday, July 23, 2010

Cheerleading follows Pine-Baiting into the Dustbin

I have just got off the phone from my dear friend Judge Stefan Underhill who has recently delivered his opinion in the United States District Court, District of Connecticut matter Stephanie Biediger, Kayla Lawler, Erin Overdevest, Kristen Corinaldesi, and Logan Riker, individually and on behalf of all those similarly situated, and Robin Lamott Sparks, individually v. Quinnipiac University No. 3:09cv621 (SRU)*. I have given Stefan a ferocious haranguing but he is steadfastly refusing to change his manifestly flawed determination that Cheerleading is not a sport*.

In his opinion, Stefan said "Competitive cheer may, some time in the future, qualify as a sport under Title IX.......Today, however, the activity is still too underdeveloped and disorganized to be treated as offering genuine varsity athletic participation opportunities for students."

This criticism could equally be levelled against Ultimate Frisbee, Kabaddi or Australian Rules Football and is the type of short-sightedness that led to my preferred sport of pine-baiting being outlawed in Australia.

Pine-baiting became popular in New South Wales in the late 1830’s as a result of the difficulties for bear-baiting enthusiasts posed by Australia’s overwhelming lack of bears. Early European settlers experimented with baiting alternatives such as recidivist convicts and emus before realising that both Norfolk Island Pine and the rare Wollemi Pine provided wonderful sport.

Australia's most celebrated Pine-Baiter of the 1930s Norman "Splinters" Royan shows off his skills.

Pine-baiting was Australia’s most popular sport for the next 100 years until some meddling lefties in London challenged the validity of the practice in the UK High Court of Justice. Unfortunately, in the now infamous High Trees decision, Lord Denning put an end to Pine Baiting for many of the same reasons Judge Underhill has relied upon to derogate the gentle art of cheerleading. The one positive from this sorry episode was that in obiter in High Trees, Lord Denning accidentally invented the doctrine of Promissory Estoppel. Only time will tell if Judge Underhill’s decision in Volleyball v Cheerleading will have a similar impact on the future development of contract law.

*** Central London Property Trust Ltd v High Trees House Ltd [1947] KB 130

Friday, July 16, 2010

How I Modernised Cricket

The incredible hype surrounding Australia’s Test Match against Pakistan at Lords this week (largely, I imagine, the result of the continued and rightful selection of prodigious run machine Marcus North) has reminded me of my own role in shaping the modern game of cricket.

While the actions of my old sparring partner Kerry Packer in establishing World Series Cricket to grab the television rights for his Nine Network at the expense of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is the stuff of legend, my involvement in the game's tumult in the late 1970’s is not widely known.

Although it is a notorious fact that I am an authority on the game* many people do not realise that I acted for my close friends Allen Stanford and Ted Turner, who formed a rival consortium, Power Cricket America (PCA), which tried to sign the very same players to play in the “Pan-American Power Cricket League”. This would have given Turner’s CNN global rights to cricket and made me the most powerful man in the game, to the extent I wasn't already.

Unfortunately, Packer’s consortium, recognising the imminent threat of Turner, Stanford and myself, quickly signed almost every high profile international player of the day, including such luminaries as Tony Greig, Clive Lloyd, Greg and Ian Chappell. Packer’s masterstroke was using that dapper, silver-tongued devil Richie Benaud as a recruitment consultant and publicist. This was the beginning of my well publicised feud with Benaud. PCA, on my advice, engaged Steve Randell and Saleem Malik to fulfill a similar role. This ultimately proved a bad decision.

After months of effort and despite my enthusiastic negotiating style, Turner’s PCA consortium was ultimately only able to sign five players: English Journeyman Arnold Sidebottom, teenage Queensland Heartthrob Carl “Big Mocha” Rackemann, little known Sri Lankan tweaker Hettithanthrige Don Kapila Haritha Perera (who was a better player than his modest record of 3 first class matches for Burgher Recreation Club suggests) and two retired Major League Baseballers: relief pitcher Albert Walter "Sparky" Lyle and reliable second-baseman Bernie Allen.

Despite our limited playing stocks, Turner and Stanford would not be dissuaded and funded PCA matches in the USA for the entire 1977 season. The three-on-two matches, while not a commercial success were surprisingly engaging contests. The Rest of the World (Sidebottom, Rackemann and Perera) had an advantage in youthful enthusiasm and cricketing experience while the Americans (Lyle and Allen) were technically limited but absolutely ruthless on anything short (a lesson Mocha refused to learn after he was dispatched over mid-wicket by the powerful Bernie Allen time and time again). For the record, the Rest of the World won the only SuperTest by an innings and 11 runs while the USA won the 50 over series 11-8. Yorkshireman Sidebottom was player of the series and won a magical night with Michael Douglas.

While the role of Power Cricket America is now largely forgotten, many astute critics of the game believe it was the entrepreneurial flair and commercial dynamism I demonstrated in promoting PCA and recruiting a powerful roster that spurred Packer to make One Day Cricket such a powerful force in the game over the last 30 years. It is hard not to agree.

* Based largely on my childhood friendship with Sir Donald and my many critically acclaimed articles on the sport (such as “Age limits in the judiciary but not in cricket commentary: The case against Richard Benaud” C&SLJ 54 2001”)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Bullstrode's Latin Phrase Book: Minima Maxima Sunt

Minima Maxima Sunt: More or less means “The smallest things are the most important", essentially that one must pay attention to detail.

For example, my bitter enemies Julia Gillard and Stephen Smith have dealt me a terrible blow this week and were able to do so because of their attention to the most microscopic details of my past. While their announcement of the regional refugee processing centre appeared confusing and bizarre to the average man on the Bondi Tram, I immediately recognised it as a direct attack, and an effective one at that. Gillard (as an immigrant herself) and Smith know all to well that acting against self-represented, non-English speaking refugee applicants in the Refugee Review Tribunal represents the financial cornerstone of my practice. Similarly, they know from personal experience that my past history with tropical diseases such as Lymphatic filariasis, river blindness and snail fever and my acrimonious relationship with Xanana Gusmão make it very difficult for me to travel to my beloved Timor-Leste. This is brilliantly demonstrative of the policy effectiveness of Minima Maxima Sunt.

While infinitus est numerus stultorum in the Labor Party, this episode was well played. Julia and Stephen have won this battle through attention to detail, but the war is just starting. And in a time of war, the law falls silent*.

*Inter arma enim silent leges.
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