Sure, the Oval score­board is in­ter­est­ing but in to­day’s world of in­stant in­for­ma­tion it is a dinosaur — Rex Jory

The Advertiser - - OPINION -

NOTH­ING is for­ever. Every­thing has a use-by date. A ques­tion South Aus­tralians must ad­dress: what is the use-by date of the score­board at Ade­laide Oval?

Are we go­ing to leave it stand­ing on the grass at the north­ern end of the Oval, a relic of the past or should it be moved?

I love the score­board. It is beau­ti­ful, a won­der­ful re­minder of our her­itage, a monument to the grand days of cricket at Ade­laide Oval and the per­ma­nence and sta­bil­ity of our sport­ing head­quar­ters.

It evokes mem­o­ries of my first visit to Ade­laide Oval as a small boy. It has been there since 1911 record­ing the most amaz­ing feats of sport­ing skill, courage and en­durance.

But in a way, that’s the point. It has been there since 1911 — 106 years. In to­day’s hitech world, where peo­ple not only thirst for but ex­pect in­stant re­plays and minute de­tails of un­fold­ing events, it is cu­rio, an an­tique.

It tells us as much about a live foot­ball fi­nal or a cricket Test match as a fos­sil tells us about a liv­ing an­i­mal. Mod­ern elec­tronic score­boards in sta­di­ums around the world spew out an end­less stream of facts and fig­ures.

The Ade­laide Oval score­board tells us the score. Noth­ing more.

Yet, in the case of the foot­ball fi­nals, it takes up a huge amount of space when 53,000 peo­ple are jammed into the rest of the Oval.

Two smaller elec­tronic boards show the play, the scores, the time and a few other bits and pieces.

They merely em­pha­sise that the old score­board is a 19th cen­tury colos­sus com­pet- ing against 21st cen­tury tech­nol­ogy. An el­e­gant galleon fir­ing its can­non balls at an air­craft car­rier.

Foot­ball sup­port­ers are used to watch­ing the game on tele­vi­sion, par­tic­u­larly games played in­ter­state.

On tele­vi­sion they get in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion with on­ground ac­tion, slow-mo­tion re­plays, ver­bal and writ­ten ex­pla­na­tions and end­less sta­tis­ti­cal anal­y­sis.

In 2017 peo­ple know the ca­pa­bil­ity of new tech­nol­ogy and they like it. They have an ex­pec­ta­tion that if they go to the foot­ball or cricket, in­for­ma­tion about the game should be at least com­pa­ra­ble with tele­vi­sion.

To young peo­ple in par­tic­u­lar, Ade­laide Oval gives them a glimpse of Juras­sic Park. This is how things used to be. Sure, the score­board is in­ter­est­ing but in to­day’s world of in­stant in­for­ma­tion it is a dinosaur.

You can’t fool young peo- ple. They know what tech­nol­ogy is ca­pa­ble of pro­vid­ing and they like it. Bus stops are go­ing hi-tech.

Show the score on a 106year-old score­board lit­tered with use­less tags like “fall of wicket”, “first in­nings, se­cond in­nings” and other cricket minu­tiae which has noth­ing to do with the on-field ac­tion and they are, in a way, dis­en­fran­chised.

The dear old score­board not only de­nies the in­for­ma­tion they want and ex­pect, but its very pres­ence sym­bol­ises why they can’t have that in­for­ma­tion.

Why is the score­board there? To in­form and en­ter­tain spec­ta­tors or re­mind us how things used to be?

In a per­fect world there is a place for the score­board. Per­haps it is right to leave it frown­ing across the Oval from its north­ern mound.

Or could it be moved, per­haps to a spot be­hind the west- ern stand, in the east­ern gar­dens out­side the ground, or to Ade­laide No. 2 ground?

The score­board has wisely been pre­served and safe­guarded by leg­is­la­tion. It would be no easy mat­ter to re­verse that de­ci­sion and al­low it to be moved.

But it could be done if, after a calm and ra­tio­nal com­mu­nity de­bate, that was found to be the best de­ci­sion for the con­tin­ued growth of Ade­laide Oval.

The re­moval of the old score­board would clear the way for a new stand, per­haps with seat­ing for an ex­tra 10,000 or 15,000 peo­ple. A sta­dium with a ca­pac­ity of 65,000.

It would also al­low for a larger and more com­pre­hen­sive elec­tronic score­board with the qual­ity and de­tail pro­vided by tele­vi­sion, to be built.

Any move to re­move the old score­board may not — at least ini­tially — be popular. But let’s have the de­bate.

TALK­ING POINT: It is time to have a de­bate about the fu­ture of the Ade­laide Oval score­board, writes Rex Jory.

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