Column
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 March, 2013, 8:47am

A little objectivity never hurt anyone

Somewhere in the flood of praise for one of the world's great sporting extravaganzas, there's still a bit of room for constructive criticism

BIO

Tim Noonan has been crafting uniquely provocative columns for the SCMP and SMP for more than a decade. A native of Canada, he has over 20 years’ experience in Asia and has been a regular contributor to a number of prominent publications, including Time magazine, Forbes, The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune and The Independent.
 

Some people need a hug. Not me and maybe not you, but some people do. And some of these same people apparently need to hear how wonderful this Sevens is and how well the event is run. Personally, I always believed significance was inherent.

At this stage of the game and after all these years, everybody knows how great this event is. But I guess it never hurts to accentuate the positive, so how about a big hug for our Sevens. There are so many wonderful things about this event I really don't know where to start.

I spoke to a number of players and commentators from out of town this week and asked each of them where the Hong Kong Sevens ranks in the firmament of other sevens events and the verdict is unanimous: it is far and away number one. All the players and most of the announcers circle this event on their calendar right from the get go. It's an undisputed fact, so there is most certainly that.

Of course, I don't think I have to remind any of you who actually made it into the stadium how special this event is. Who knows what sort of compromises you made to get one of those cherished tickets. And speaking of tickets, I also think it's a wonderful thing that we have so many pasty ticket touts with cockney accents dotting the route into the stadium.

Almost 16 years after the handover, this place is still generating business opportunities for British passport holders so that is certainly a positive. These are the positive type of stories I believe we should hear more of. However, you really do have to be a little wary of being too positive.

Objectivity is still crucial. If I do nothing but sing the praises of this event then fans of restoration literature will accuse me of merely composing doe-eyed panegyrics to curry favour from the powers that be. Back in the day royalty would commission their favoured scribe to compose a panegyric, a written verse extolling the virtues of their benefactors. Eventually this morphed into the modern-day PR agency where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the sky is not cloudy all day.

But one doesn't have to be a servile PR hack to write about what works at the Sevens. The positives often accentuate themselves. This event features a unique ambience where we have the confluence of 40,000 hearty partying folks who despite the copious libations consumed still manage to stay remarkably good natured.

The merriment can occasionally go over the edge but genuine trouble and danger at the Sevens is largely absent. In the 20-plus years I have been attending and covering this event, that has remained basically unchanged and it's as much a testament to the inherent civility of Hong Kong as it is this great event. Despite the fact that it has become a massive world-class gathering, let's hope that formula for fun and socialising is never altered because it's the backbone of the Sevens.

Are there ways of improving this event? Well you can always make a Ferrari go faster, can't you? The commercials on the jumbotron look the same as they did last year and the year before that, while the musical selection is slightly stale. On the pitch, New Zealand and Fiji always look good, while the US and Taiwan don't. But just when you think this event is getting a tad formulaic, the Beach Boys show up to serenade us on a sparkling Saturday afternoon.

Still, what would you change about this event if you had a chance? Even though the positives far outweigh the negatives, I merely ask this because the folks behind the Sevens are always looking for ways to improve things. They understand that it behooves them to constantly look forward.

So if you should see someone from the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union during your rounds at the stadium today, perhaps you can make a suggestion or two because they are fairly amenable folks. Or maybe you can tell them what you like about this thing. I don't know, at the very least you can offer them a hug, and a congratulatory hug at that, because some people need a hug.

 

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