News Eugene McGee

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Time to silence whingers and implement new culture of respect in GAA

Published 19/08/2013 | 05:00

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Implementing a culture of real respect in Gaelic football would be a great service for the game’s young players, including U-10 Community Games competitors Eoghan Hartin (Erne Valley, Co Cavan) and Eric Stritch (Monaleen, Co Limerick)

Maybe it is the warm weather this summer but, for whatever reason, there seems to be an inordinate amount of whingers on the Gaelic football scene this year.

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All sorts of people – players, managers, spectators, media commentators and even county board officers – have felt free to say anything they like about all sorts of topics involving football games and their consequences.

And there is nearly always one basic theme running through the negativity – they emanate from people attached to losing teams. We seldom hear winning players or managers complaining too much after a game.

Of course, whingeing has always been with us in football, just as cynical fouling has. And just as that particular offence has been refined greatly from past decades, so too has the modern-day whingeing.

This is made very easy of course by the use of the modern, inaptly named 'social' media because whingers from that department never have to give their names and, under the cover of anonymity, they can comment in any way they like.

COMPETE

But why do prominent participants of football complain so much and so vehemently?

After all, the games are merely contests in which groups of players compete to see which are the most capable on a particular day.

The result cannot be altered afterwards, so why do so many whinge so much?

I have always considered that there are about half a dozen components in a football game and the sum total of these should produce the final result.

We have the quality of the two teams, the weather on the day, the referee, injuries that may cause a player to leave the field, a lack of discipline, which can lead to a player being sent off, and the behaviour of the crowd in certain situations.

All these components apply to nearly every game and every team so that any variables in a particular game should be seen as part of the overall match package. Based on how you make use of these components, you either win or lose the game. Seems simple enough.

Yet, we rarely get acceptance of a result based on those factors.

Instead, the referee is blamed; or the weather is often blamed should it change during the course of the game.

If one or more players are sent off from the losing team, they will blame that. But it was their job to make sure none of their players was sent off; it wasn't anybody else's job. Injuries in a game can affect either team, that's the luck of the game.

Simply put, all the components that make up a football game apply to each team so when people go into tantrums after the game they have lost, it is just plain silly.

Of course losers rarely speak out honestly. Instead they use language that confuses the issue. For example: "I never like criticising referees but..."; "the wind seemed to change direction in the second half"; "I thought the booing of our freetaker was very unsporting"; "that first yellow card was for nothing"; and so on.

Comments like these are meant to be an excuse for losing and they provide encouragement for the whingers to greatly increase the momentum.

No wonder whingeing has developed into an art form. The dramatic increase in betting on GAA games means that many whingers are sparked into action by a major loss to their wallets.

Of course, the vast majority of players and managers hardly ever engage in excuse-making like this.

They accept the results based on what took place during the game and get on with their lives. We do not get the same levels of after-match whingeing in most other sports, such as rugby, tennis or racing, where sportsmanship really means something.

There are factors in Gaelic games which exacerbate the problem, such as the tribal, often ferocious, attitude of teams based in the same counties or parishes.

But in everyday life this is not a problem, so why so in the GAA?

Why do some neighbouring counties hate each other and react accordingly after a big game, resorting to excuse after excuse when they lose?

And why do so many GAA followers feel they know better than the referee whenever there is a controversial decision.

The GAA has started a policy of inculcating respect among players, officials and fans in recent times. It is slow to get off the ground but is urgently needed.

Only respect will curb the whingers because respect means that you accept that the best team nearly always wins the game. Whingers never want to accept that basic tenet.

Tyrone's hard yards taken may halt Mayo

IF ever there was a clash of styles in a big game at Croke Park, it will be on view next Sunday when Mayo play Tyrone in the first of the All-Ireland football championship semi-finals.

Tyrone have won the All-Ireland three times in the past decade, with their own particular style of football based on tight, controlled play, crowding their defence when needed and breaking upfield at pace once they have regained possession.

It was epitomised in their glory days by the great Brian Dooher (right), one of the most athletic players ever seen in Croke Park.

Mayo have a different style based on a more traditional line of thinking but with many of the traits of other successful teams in recent years adapted to their own particular requirements.

One of those traits, new to Mayo teams, is the professional approach to fitness levels and a consequently greatly increased tempo and intensified physical contact, which is totally at variance to what we have seen before from the county.

It promises to be a fascinating clash of styles . Mayo have not played a hard game all year, Tyrone have played several. Can that prove to be the difference between two well-matched sides?

Irish Independent

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