If there’s one thing that is abundantly clear in a packed sporting landscape, it is that fans aren’t silly and competitions needs to guarantee that every contest genuinely matters. There’s so much sport being played throughout Australia and overseas, and so many ways to consume those events, that no league can afford to expect people to care if there isn’t something on the line. There have been clear examples of this in the last month, and it was extremely evident when the Big Bash kicked off on Thursday. The BBL tried to milk the cash cow for all it was worth by playing 14 games for several years, but struggled to retain interest because every game didn’t matter. They all matter now after the season was reduced to 10 games per team. Nobody can’t afford to drop games or they’ll struggle to recover. Ratings soared for the first game on Thursday as Brisbane Heat smashed Melbourne Stars at the Gabba. WA viewership rose by 40 per cent on the opening game of the competition last summer. A standalone game which included Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne and Glenn Maxwell had all the right ingredients to tell people the match mattered. And people tuned in as a result. Perth Scorchers will start their campaign in Victoria on Sunday and there’s plenty of anticipation to see if they can continue to dominate the Australian T20 landscape. We’ve just seen a brilliant 50-over World Cup where the public fell back in love with One Day Internationals. There is always talk about that version of the game being under threat, and debate about where it fits in a busy cricket schedule. Just over 10,000 people bothered to go to the MCG in November 2022 to watch Australia beat England. It never made sense why that series was even played. It felt like the games didn’t matter and people voted with their feet. But when you play a World Cup, you guarantee everyone’s attention. Maxwell’s double century while cramping against Afghanistan will never be forgotten because it happened on a big stage in a game that truly mattered. Maxwell was one of the few big names to stay in India to play in a T20 tournament the week after the World Cup. He scored a century off only 47 balls but with so many of his teammates and opponents relaxing at home, that innings was viewed vastly differently. The selection of both teams told the public the games didn’t really matter. Even passionate Indian fans stayed away with the stadium left half empty. The Matildas are another prime example. Australia fell in love with Sam Kerr, Mary Fowler, Mackenzie Arnold and co during the World Cup. We were on the edge of our seats as they won through to the semi-finals. Stadiums filled with AFL fans were glued to the big screen at stadiums in Melbourne and Perth when Cortnee Vine produced her famous match winning penalty. It was tense, it was dramatic. It truly mattered. WA fans then filled Optus Stadium for games in October when the Matildas played here, and relished the chance to watch the superstars live. Kerr’s goals were met with huge celebrations in the grandstand. Did anyone really care that we lost 5-0 to Canada in a friendly this week when fielding a below strength team? Selection told us not to care. Selection told us the games didn’t really matter. The AFL’s State of origin footy died because players kept pulling out. Their absence told everyone that the games didn’t matter. Home and away footy always matters and crowds always turn up. The NBA recognised fans were getting disillusioned with players being rested during their 82-game season that they introduced rules to keep them on the court. Fans won’t pay top dollar to watch games if the big names aren’t playing. The NBA also added an in-season tournament to generate interest. Indiana Pacers will play the LA Lakers in the final in Las Vegas on Sunday morning. Test cricket always matters. Some bowlers get told to rest because there’s a strong chance they’ll break down in back to back Tests, but the random selection that we see in the ODI and T20 formats aren’t a part of Test cricket. Nobody gets gifted a baggy green cap. The big names will all be at Optus Stadium on Thursday for the first Test of the summer against Pakistan and if you’re a passionate WA cricket fan nothing should matter more than getting to at least one of those days. There’s been plenty of complaints over the years about the lack of games in Perth. Last year’s match against West Indies started on Wednesday November 30. It was horrible timing. By the time the weekend came around the Aussies had scored 598 runs in the first innings, bowled the West Indies out for 283 and were 1/29 at the end of day three. There was little incentive to attend days four and five. This is a Thursday game. It’s on December 14 which means plenty of students have been on holidays for weeks. It’s the first Test of the summer. The days of being worried about cooking in the sun at the WACA aren’t there. You’ll find shade at Optus Stadium. If you’re a WA cricket fan, you have the chance to send a message that scheduling matters. Don’t waste that opportunity.