What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
This movie is not on my list of essential films.
NOTE: This installment of Sports Analogies Hidden In Classic Movies is being done as part of something called the The Second Deborah Kerr Blog-A-Thon, which is being hosted by Maddy Loves Her Classic Films. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been allowed to take part in several of her events, and since she keeps having me back, you get stuff like this!
You can see all the contributions to this blog-a-thon here:
Being rooted in the 1920’s is only the beginning of why this movie has a hidden sports analogy. “The Sundowners” chronicles the nomadic lifestyle of Irish shepherds in the Australian outback in the early 20th century.
The story centers around Paddy Carmody (played by Robert Mitchum) and his wife Ida (played by Deborah Kerr). Along with their son Sean Sean (played by Michael Anderson Jr.), the family roves the sparsely-populated outback drovering and shearing sheep. The term “sundowner” comes from the fact they are constantly moving; they pitch their tent for the night wherever they happen to be when the sun goes down. Ida and Sean do not share Paddy’s wanderlust; they want to settle down, but the patriarch of the Carmody family never wants to stay in one place for long.
Things take a turn when the family meets a refined Englishman named Rupert Venneker (played by Peter Ustinov). They hire him to help drive a large herd of sheep to the town of Cawndilla. Along the way, they survive a dangerous brush fire, which only serves to intensify Ida and Sean’s desire to leave the nomadic life.
Once the four reach Cawndilla, Ida convices Paddy to take a job shearing sheep for an outfit where she also serves as the cook. Rupert also takes a job as a wool roller, and Sean as a tar boy. At the same time, Rupert begins a relationship with the local pub owner, the widowed Mrs. Firth (played by Glynis Johns).
Despite the fact Rupert keeps telling Mrs. Firth he has no desire to settle down, the fact that Ida is bank-rolling the family’s money to put a down payment on a farm of their own leads the viewer to believe Ida and Sean are about to get their way. Things look even better for the Carmodys when Paddy wins a lot of money and a race horse gambling. Owning a racehorse has long been Paddy’s dream. They name the horse “Sundowner” and enter him in local races with Sean as his jockey.
Likewise, Ida’s dream seems to be coming to fruition as she finally convinces Paddy to buy the farm she and Sean have their hearts set on. The problem is that after he agrees, he loses all the money Ida saved in a single night of gambling. To make up for this, Paddy tells Ida that he has a buyer for Sundowner if he wins his next race; the sale price being enough for the down payment on the farm. However, the deal falls through, but Paddy’s deep remorse heals the breach with Ida, after which they resolve to save enough to buy a farm one day.
The Hidden Sports Analogy:
The Sacramento Kings of the National Basketball Association (NBA) are “The Sundowners” of the sporting world, having been the franchise which has relocated the most. Today’s Kings are one of the oldest continuously operating professional basketball franchises in the nation. Having started as a semi-professional team nearly 100 years ago, today’s Sacramento Kings can trace their lineage back to Rochester, New York.
The team we know today as the Sacramento Kings were founded in 1923 as the Rochester Seagrams; the team name coming from it’s primary sponsor. This remained the case in one form or another for the next 20+ years until they joined the newly-formed fully-professional National Basketball League (NBL) in 1945. Now known as the Rochester Royals, they captured the league’s first championship.
In 1948, the Royals would join with three other NBL teams to jump to the start-up Basketball Association of America (BAA). This would prove to be the fore-runner of today’s National Basketball Association, which came to be when the NBL and the BAA merged later that same year.
The NBA’s Rochester Royals enjoyed much on-court success, winning another league title in 1951. The problem was being a perennial contender didn’t translate to profitability, largely because the small market of Rochester limited the ability to sell tickets. As such, the team packed up and moved to Cincinnati in 1957. Fifteen years later, the Cincinnati Royals again found themselves in dire financial straits, which was the main reason behind another move to Kansas City.
In an attempt to generate more fan interest, and therefore drive more ticket sales, the Kings split their home games between Kansas City and Omaha. This really didn’t have the desired effect which is why the split-market experiment only lasted three seasons. The Kings would spend the next decade in Kansas City, but once again, the dollar dictated yet another move, this time to Sacramento in 1985.
All signs point to the Sacramento Sundowners staying put for a while; the city having just built them a new arena with a corresponding long-term lease which should keep the Kings in California’s capital city for the foreseeable future. But before the Golden 1 Center was built in downtown Sacramento, the Kings very nearly loaded the U-Haul once again.
From 2006 to 2013, the Sacramento Kings were under a constant threat of yet another relocation, mostly due to the fact the Maloofs (the owners at the time) were believed to have hit hard times and could no longer able to run an NBA franchise. The Maloofs courted cities like Anaheim, Virginia Beach, and Seattle as potential suitors for the team until a deal to sell the team was made with a group led by Silicon Valley billionaire Vivek Ranadivé.
Before that sale, there were more than one chance for Sacramento to lose the Kings. But unlike Ida Carmody, the down payment got made to keep this team in California’s capital. Now they shouldn’t be the “Kings of the road” again anytime soon.
The Moral of The Story:
Forget about the heart. If you’re an American sports franchise, home is where the money is.
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