The sleeping giant that is the Big Bash League is finally stirring awake and no one, not League, not Soccer, not even the venerable AFL can stop it.
Forget your Gary Ablett’s or your Jarryd Hayne’s, by 2020 the BBL will be the #1 sport in the country on pretty much every front.
Participation, salaries, reach, franchises, ratings – you name it.
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The switch has already been flicked, way back in that magically innocent time of December 2015, when we thought the Sharks and/or Western Bulldogs could never win a premiership, that the UK would never leave the EU and that the US would never vote for let alone elect someone so tremendously fantastic.
I remember it like it was last December. Because it was.
The feeling was palpable.
Pubs, shops, lounge rooms – millions of Aussies began to tune in to and talk about this short, sharp and spectacular game that was on free-to-air tele night after night.
Record crowds, record ratings, the creation of a women’s league (WBBL), talk of expansion – surely you remember this?
What about the record 80,000 crowd that turned up to the MCG on January 3rd surely you remember that?
It was on the news for days, sparking comparisons to 1978 and that famous day in November (and Aussie history) when 44,000 people turned out to the SCG to watch the first day-night game.
Just like 1978, that MCG game in January this year was a watershed moment not just for the BBL but for Australian sport.
In an era where the footy codes stumble and thrash through the localised muck of subscription TV deals, player welfare and competition equalisation, the Big Bash (and T20 in general) will soar onto a truly global stage.
First and foremost, structurally it is THE most perfect game imaginable for TV advertising with ads on every over.
It is also perfectly structured for fan engagement with a break in between two 90-minute innings where spectators can become national heroes in seconds with a spectacular catch, weird costumes or (sadly) a watermelon.
There are less players needed on the field which makes it easier to both establish franchises (expand) and ensure the competition is relatively equal, especially given the nature of the game dictates that only 1 or 2 players in a team need to perform brilliantly for that team to have a better than average chance of winning.
Protective equipment is mandated and accepted, not rejected or scoffed at as being unmanly.
And most importantly of all, it is on basically every night for 40 nights straight, during the festive holiday time when Aussies are off work and relaxing, it is free to air and it is on prime time!
A Sherrin or Steeden might still be a great gift for your 14 year old niece or nephew this Christmas, but if they are 5 or 6 get a Kookaburra in their hands or teach them to clear “cow corner”!
Because the Big Bash is coming!