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Michael Oliver



In the interests of pandering to far more informative and enlightening pieces of sports journalism than the ones you are accustomed to reading in, say, Salient, myself and a crew of tech-savvy at-risk youth have pored over Ted Steven’s tubes-o-Internet to bring you a complete and unabridged compendium of every single sport web site known to man… kinda. They’re three of the best anyway.
The Silver Fern (www.thesilverfern.com)
The Silver Fern is a veritable piece of quality online indie sports journalism, with a unique New Zealand twang. Maintained by a man known only by his moniker “Bart Man,” the site offers a no-holds-barred insight into most matters concerning kiwi sport, with a particular proclivity for rugby – which is on show right from the moment you land on the index page. In recent years, the Fern’s forum has blossomed and the 1000 or so members have cultivated a sense of community that’s both uniquely kiwi, and uniquely global.
What’s more, the Fern’s faithful have developed what some linguists would call a sort of meta-language, whereby certain everyday words like ‘wanker’ and ‘c**t’ are replaced with the more amicable (and work safe) ‘piston-wristed gibbon’ and ‘fluffy bunny,’ e.g. ‘George Gregan is such a piston-wristed gibbon!’ ‘Nah, he looks more like a fluffy bunny!’ ‘Dunno what fluffy bunnies you’ve seen in your time, but if they look anything like George Gregan…’
OzTips (www.oztips.com)
In an age where fantasy sports sites are becoming as convoluted as they are popular, it’s nice to stumble across a site like Oz Tips that oozes sporting fanfare without being overly complex. Billed as something of a more general virtual Super 14, users can sign up and partake in a number of ‘pick the score’ type competitions, or indeed, set up their own challenges. The sports on offer are generally Australian/New Zealand based, and while the name does suggest a tendency to favour Australian competitions, New Zealand sport is well represented. Needless to say that nothing nurtures a healthy ego quite like beating friends or colleagues in a virtual sporting competition. OzTips gives you – the heroes – a chance to take your lousy self-esteem to task, and make some new enemies in the process – it’s win-win, folks.
The BOP Mafia (http://www.bopmafia.com/)
Part blue, part yellow, and part cult, the headquarters of the Bay of Plenty Mafia offers the kind of fanatical, one-eyed, sporting mayhem that one would expect to find on a Mike Tyson fan group on Facebook. A zealous lot, the Mafia are lead by the ruggedly jovial ‘HoriBop,’ who is described on the web site as being the “undisputed head of the family and pie-eater extraordinaire”. The tongue-in-cheek way the Mafia cherish their beloved rugby team is both an entertaining and freakishly detailed peek through the looking glass of sporting fanaticism. Quite frankly, New Zealand sport could do with more mafias – they offer a particular kind of energy that’s invigorating, and yet strangely disturbing at the same time.