2020 was all set to be my 22nd consecutive year of watching the Bandits. That’s 22 years of pride, passion, highs, lows, friendship and frequenting the burger van!
However thanks to the (insert expletive here) show that has been 2020, that streak has sadly come to an end and I’ve not witnessed any live speedway at all this year.
Am I sad about this? Yeah!
Am I a little bitter about it? You could say that.
Has it driven me to absolute despair? You better believe it!
I’ve said on several occasions that speedway is my escape from the mundane, my escape from reality and my reward to myself for putting up with certain peoples (insert expletive here) during the week.
Having that torn away from me has been difficult to deal with, as it has been for everyone else too I’m sure.
However, with no speedway to go to this year, it has brought about lots of time to think, which granted isn’t always a good thing. In saying that the way in which we have watched the speedway, and many other sports for that matter has changed and that change may be the norm as we move forward.
I am of course talking about live streaming of meetings. Admittedly this isn’t particularly new in other sports but in speedway it’s very early days, but those early signs are good, in spite of what experts will tell you, more on them later.
So, forgetting 2020 altogether, lets say we are at some degree of normality in 2021 and fans are allowed back into sporting venues, should live streaming of meetings continue?
For me, yes it should and here’s why…
Scenario number one…
As is customary there is usually some inconsiderate (insert expletive here) that decides it would be a good idea to get married and invite you to “share their special day with them”. Usually this will be a Saturday and it generally tends to clash with a Bandits fixture and this poses a problem…however it is somewhat less of a problem if the meeting was to be live streamed and you’re able to prop yourself at the bar and watch the meeting in peace.
Scenario number two…
Your team are riding high near the top of the league, and have a couple of meetings down south which could see them top the table with a win or two. You want to go but can’t because you can’t get the time off work in order to travel down. However if the meeting was being streamed you could see your team in action away from home and cheer them on in the comfort of your own home.
Again problem solved!
Now I realise that this wouldn’t and simply couldn’t be a freebie as it wouldn’t be viable. I also realise that there is absolutely nothing that can replicate the feeling of being there live and in living colour.
But if clubs were to get together and come up with a subscription plan, be it monthly, a one off yearly payment as part of a season ticket or access to so many meetings for a certain price, I fail to see how it couldn’t work out for both clubs and fans.
Yes I understand that much of a clubs revenue depends on putting bums in seats and in order to do that you need people through the turnstiles, but surely getting say £15 off 25 people who couldn’t make it in person, is better than getting nothing from them because they couldn’t make it in person?
I get that these people aren’t going to be buying virtual burgers or virtual merchandise when they aren’t in attendance at the stadium, but at least this way they can still help the sport by supporting it from afar.
Live streaming of meetings also allows for an unlimited number of eyes to potentially see our product, our sport and see what all the fuss is about.
The world is perhaps never going to be the same again, and we must adapt to our surroundings and this may well be the way forward for speedway to strive in.
With very little having actually happened in British Speedway in 2020, there is no real need for major discussions of changes to the rules or anything else when 2021 rolls around, however I imagine that a BSPA AGM of sorts will still need to happpen.
So with that being said, shouldn’t one of the discussion points be the live streaming of meetings?
Of course these discussions may already be well underway and plans for such a thing may already be in the pipeline. It has proved to be a successful venture for those who have trialed it so far, so why not build on that?
Naturally there are always the aforementioned experts who are far too quick to criticise every single thing that clubs try to do. Some of the comments about the British Under 21 final live stream were way over the score.
Yes there were teething problems, that’s to be expected, but everything in the lead up to the meeting were simply circumstances beyond anyone’s control. In over twenty years of going to Shielfield Park I can’t recall there ever being a power outage at the stadium and the weather has been an enemy of our sport since it’s inception and neither can be controlled.
Is it unfortunate? Of course it is.
Is there anything that could have been done differently? Probably not.
Yes the meeting was delayed and as a result it was curtailed before it’s natural conclusion, but this isn’t the first time this has happened in speedway and it won’t be the last, that’s just speedway. Okay so the meeting wasn’t a classic, but to throw criticism towards it and how it was run is not only unjustified, it’s completely needless and serves no purpose whatsoever.
So I have a question for the keyboard warriors who exist among us, what did you do to help get that meeting on?
Nothing, that’s what. But being verbally athletic on a keyboard to criticise what was a monumental task wasn’t a problem.
None of you were keeping an eye on the forecast and trying to predict how to prepare the track to ensure a meeting took place, yet you’re a leading authority on the subject.
None of you were there to lend a hand to blade the track when the rain came and to relay the track when it was required, yet you appear to be some sort of genius oozing with expertise.
None of you were there working frantically to ensure a meeting took place when disaster struck and a fuse blown in the stadium, yet you’d have all had one in your pocket just in case.
But the Berwick Bandits promotion had the foresight to try something different and the band of volunteers made it possible to have a meeting against all the odds that were thrown their way, and for that they deserve a lot more credit than they have been given.
How many times down the years have Berwick been praised for getting a meeting on against the odds, having the track covers down when the weather was looking less than favourable?
Naturally in hindsight it’s easy to say that things could and should have been done differently, but you can’t change what’s happened. On another night, perhaps everything would have went by without a hitch and the world would be full of praise about the British Under 21 final being a classic.
Even if that was the case there would still be some idiot picking fault somewhere, such is the world we live in.
Despite the teething problems and technical difficulties, we got to see some speedway and for that we should be grateful. Lessons will no doubt have been learned and the experience can be built upon and improved as time goes on.
I have absolutely no doubt that the vast majority of true speedway fans will not only have been grateful for the action, but they will see it as something they can get invested in moving forward if live streaming of meetings becomes a regular thing as we head into 2021.
Of course if you wish to agree, or disagree with the Mythman, have an idea for a feature, or you simply want to chew the fat over all things speedway, you can email me email@example.com or get in touch via the JB Speedway Media Facebook page. If your compliments, or indeed gripes can be contained to limited characters, you can send me a tweet @Mythman666.
Until next time…and there will be a next time.
Right I’ll hae’tae gan