Friday 21 October 2016

Curtains around the goldfish bowl to repel internet savages

Published 25/07/2015 | 02:30

'The internet savages debase humanity with the tips of their fingers'
'The internet savages debase humanity with the tips of their fingers'

It was a strange story for sure. A story that woke me up at six this morning and set in train a whole series of thought processes ever since.

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The convoy of huge silage cutting machines making their way to a second cut on this fine morning would wake the dead, but I'm sure it was the wet fish that woke me.

I'm not sure if the tale of the wet fish ever really happened and I didn't check either, for fear of finding out the story was untrue. Which would mean I woke up in vain.

Now I know some of you are coming to the conclusion that this slow build up is some sort of literary foreplay. The story is coming soon. I promise you that and there will be no accursed lateral passing. We'll go straight into it.

So here's the story. It's as short as a kick out from a goalkeeper wearing slippers. The second-hand eyewitness told me he was told of a woman who opened an umbrella over a goldfish bowl on a rainy day.

Wouldn't it wreck your head? There's a reason for everything in life except slow lateral handpassing. Maybe the reason we found out about the umbrella and the wet goldfish was to warn you all that getting the young lad or the daughter ready for sporting glory entails more than just swinging a club or swimming in a pool or the kicking of a ball.

They need a bit of help even when it seems all is well. Be on the lookout and so it was I made sense out of the umbrella shading the wet fish.

Maybe this is the older man's refrain, but I think sportspeople had more fun in my day.

The Lord spare us too from The Holywood Mothers who are really the fathers pushing their kids for stardom

The rise and fall of poor Tiger Woods is a cautionary tale. Poor Tiger is rich but money isn't a cure. Tiger's Dad Earl trained his son to be the best golfer in the world. You'd wonder if Earl was allowed a peep in to the future when he had his little boy out on the practice range if he would have told him to finish up early and go home to play on the garden swing.

The collapse of a great player is one of the saddest sights to behold. I was in Fota Island following Seve Ballesteros at an Irish Open. By then the great man's star had fallen so low he was no more than a PR man for the game he loved so much. Gone was the confidence that had made him the most flamboyant golfer of his or any other generation.

Seve found himself just short the lake in front of the 18th. He chipped in to the lake several times over. It was so sad. I walked away down towards the 17th or 18th tee. Which one it was, I can't quite remember.


Padraig Harrington was waiting to drive and he was visibly shocked when he was told of Seve's collapse. Yet Harrington too has had his bad days. He came back though and was very much in contention for last week's Open Championship until a wayward drive finished off his chances.

Padraig won the Honda Classic this year. There was no victory ever celebrated as much. So why then did Padraig survive and why do so many crash?

The answer is I don't know. What I do know is the more love in your life the better for your mental health. Tiger didn't talk out his problems and now that he has come out I for one feel he is a far better man than the Tiger who was winning Majors for fun.

Like I said, top-class sports people don't have any fun at all on the big days. Maybe afterwards they do, as the players retrospectively enjoy their day in the sun. But on game day it's all about pressure and performing.

I abhor the hypocrisy of those who apply different standards to their own work place performances to those of our sports people. So many seem to forget it's young men and women we are dealing with here, for the most part. Think about it for a minute and think about what it would do to your confidence if you were subjected to such intense and often very unfair criticism.

Maybe it's not an umbrella that's needed but curtains around the bowl.

The internet savages debase humanity with the tips of their fingers. Young sports people do read the abuse. They shouldn't, but they do and it's getting worse. Sites who trade and profit from the infliction of human misery are abusers.

It is sport after all. There's a great saying in the west after a night out at a music session or storytelling and is "didn't we have great sport." Well those who attack other human beings are into blood sports and they have blood on their hands.

I often wonder if as a parent you'd be better off if your kid wasn't so great at sport. Just ordinary, playing with the club and having fun. Sport would be part of the kid's life and not his whole life.

The GAA has changed so much in the last few years. The criticism and abuse are almost intolerable and sadly is accepted by most "as part of the game."

Players do enjoy the banter of the dressing-rooms and the friendships. Dressing-rooms are an enclave. There's love to be found there and support. Teams are now known as The Group and they live within an island of their own making.

Top-class sports steals away your youth. Summer nights out are confined to three or four big blow outs. When the pals are laughing outside, your curtains are drawn tight to keep out the bright summer night.

Strange isn't it for a sports writer, sports fanatic, player and a former coach to be advocating the playing of games at less than the highest level of achievement.

It's a look back by someone who wasn't good enough for the highest level. And if I was, would I have trained seven days a week? Yes I would. Back then I would. For certain.

I'm not so sure about now.

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