Martin Devlin: Being a Halberg awards judge is an unforgiving task

Author
Martin Devlin,
Publish Date
Thu, 16 Jan 2020, 1:54PM

Martin Devlin: Being a Halberg awards judge is an unforgiving task

Author
Martin Devlin,
Publish Date
Thu, 16 Jan 2020, 1:54PM

The Halberg finalists have been announced with the world champion Silver Ferns set to clean up at least two of the major categories, those being coach of the year and team of the year - and may I say never more deservingly so.

The miraculous turnaround in  the team's fortunes almost entirely due to the eventual appointment and subsequent genius of Noeline Taurua. I say "almost" because, as we all know, the coach doesn't actually play. 

Laura Langman is the single individual finalist from the team, the only shame being that it couldn't be a collective trifecta of all  three "geriatrics" with herself, Casey Kopua and Maria Folau equally deserving of  individual as well as collective awards glory.

And not that I'd ever be happy with an All Blacks loss at a RWC but convenient I suppose that last year that did happen  meaning a very real conflict avoided, an easier decision (you'd think) for the judges to make. Or is it? Because one enduring aspect of this ceremony is its ability, for want of a better word, to induce argument as much as adjulation.

Hacking the Halbergs judging panel (and their decision making) has become as much of an annual event as the awards itself. But in defence of those earnest people charged with this unforgiving task, how do you favourably compare sporting apples and oranges, one game's achievements vs another team's excellence? It is a nigh impossible task.

Take the Sportswoman of the year category as an example. Courtney Duncan, Lisa Carrington, Zoi Sadowski-Synnott and Laura Langman are all world champions with each a worthy winner if their individual name is indeed called.

Just how do you differentiate between the best Moto-X rider, canoeist, X-Games gold medallist or dominant world beating  mid-court captain?

Does it come down to how many people play the sport here or globally, how big the achievement might be considered on a world stage, how important it is to the NZ  public at large or a combination of any or all or none of the above?

Being the NZ sports awards I feel the tie-breaker has to be this intangible something about what it means to New Zealand. How exactly you're meant to measure or quantify that I wouldn't know, which is why more learned brains than mine are charged with the task.

But surely it, whatever it is, must count for something.

Same for the Sportsman category. Well done to the judges for recognising MMA and motor racing in this category but how you decide the ultimate winner between Adesanya, McLaughlin Walsh and Williamson again an almost impossible ask.

Which is why it's always so much easier sitting here being judgmental as opposed to doing the thankless task of being a judge, three compete.

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