NRL must spread the game or die
SPORTS trivia question ... how many Sydney-based rugby league teams last season outdrew the home crowds the long-lost Adelaide Rams pulled on debut 21 years ago?
Brace yourself. This is chastening.
The answer is just one - the Sydney Roosters - and they got there by just 428 fans.
The Roosters averaged 15,758 fans to home and away games last season while the Rams averaged 15,330 in the first of their two seasons.
That was better than any other Sydney based club last year - and the Rams were parachuted into a brutally tough landscape.
The Adelaide Crows have only won two AFL premierships and they just happened to be the during the Rams two-year life in 1997-98 when Adelaide basketball and netball teams also won titles and Port Adelaide joined the AFL.
I quote these figures not to say that taking a State of Origin rugby league game to Adelaide is a master-stoke because we all know it is a money grab and yet another reckless stab in the dark by a cash-hungry game not sure of which should be its next frontier.
But, for all of its commercial shallowness, taking a big rugby league match to Adelaide makes far more sense than having eight teams scrambling all over each other in Sydney like beggars after a biscuit.
Rugby league should not be too hasty in poking fun at anything which threatens its cringingly narrow boundaries.
Danny Green and Anthony Mundine took their last fight to Adelaide because research showed the city was open to new sporting ideas and it drew a respectable 28,000.
The outrage over the Adelaide Origin game is similar to that which erupted in the early 1990s when some bright spark suggested rugby league should spreads it wings and have a team in Melbourne.
Didn't we poo poo that one.
Parramatta chief executive Denis Fitzgerald spoke for most of us when he said taking rugby league to Melbourne was like taking beach volley ball to Iceland.
It just couldn't work ... yet somehow it did and three premierships later, the jokes on us (particularly as Parramatta haven't won anything in that time).
The Storm have disproved the theory you have to beat the AFL to be successful in AFL heartland. There is such a thing as a niche market.
It's questionable whether Adelaide is the venue for it but its also questionable whether Sydney should be the home for eight rugby league clubs when not one of them makes a profit.
Adelaide are not even sure they want to be part of the expansion debate yet if they did raise their hand they would not have much to beat.
If the benchmark is the worst team in Sydney - the Wests Tigers - then on current form and stability, a team from Armidale would be a better option than the Tigers, never mind Adelaide.
For all of the huffing and puffing of Sydney rugby league club officials who get lauded as geniuses as their clubs leak money, most Sydney clubs attract such small crowds now they can fairly be described as being boutique.
It is typical that rugby league identities would bag the Adelaide project with great gusto then retreat back to their own little world, one getting smaller by the day.