Saturday 1 October 2016

Armchair gladiators: remember that winning isn't everything

Published 21/06/2016 | 02:30

Golfer Shane Lowry: valiant effort Photo: Rob Carr/Getty
Golfer Shane Lowry: valiant effort Photo: Rob Carr/Getty

It's been an outstanding week for us as "good losers".

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Belgium whipped us mercilessly in France; down in South Africa the Springboks slept through the first half as Irish hearts beat faster at the prospect of making history by winning a series, only to wake up in the second and administer a thorough trouncing. It was not to be.

Our fickle hopes of sporting good fortune, though depleted, were then foisted on the back of Shane Lowry, who was doing extraordinary things in the US Open. Alas, he too came a cropper.

So is the glass half full or half empty when it comes to being gallant losers? Our former rugby coach, Declan Kidney, was a great man for famously harvesting the "positives" out of the most unmerciful trouncings.

To his credit, he achieved a fair amount of glory with his never-say-die approach, and there is a case for keeping the "silver-linings playbook" on hand.

Some will say that winning is everything in sport. I would disagree.

All those mentioned above tried valiantly and all entertained us, offering us highs and lows. They also succeeded in giving us some respite from the humdrum and the mundane that is the every day diet served up by routine. For these reasons, I salute them all.

Those armchair gladiators who might thump the table and dismiss all that training and effort, all that sacrifice and dedication that being an elite professional athlete demands, on the grounds that none secured victory need ask to themselves only one question before judging: Would I have done any better myself?

Ah, I thought not.

Ed Toal, Galway City

Legacy of the Celtic Tiger

The commentary on our current political issues, like much of the commentary since the collapse and bailout in 2010, lacks any perspective.

We have powerful politicians going unchallenged when they are pontificating on problems that resulted from decisions which they themselves backed when they held power in the Celtic Tiger period.

And we have editorial writers pontificating on "the Irish Water fiasco", "the scramble to cap charges for bin collections" and similar problems, as if they were merely current issues.

All of these issues are the result of the decisions made during the euphoria of the Celtic Tiger years and the consequent collapse which happened in 2010. Media, academic and general commentary in the Celtic Tiger era failed to challenge these decisions and failed to warn the rest of us of the possible dire consequences of these decisions.

The real 'fiasco' is not the current water or bin charges but the total absence of any 'scrambles' to cap government spending and bank lending during the Celtic Tiger era.

That led to the collapse of both the exchequer funding and financial lending systems from which we are -hopefully - only just emerging.

A Leavy, Sutton, Dublin 13

Abortion and human worth

Gerard O'Regan (Irish Independent, June 18) has pinpointed the kernel of the choice facing us in the Eighth Amendment debate: "The very nature of human existence itself is at stake".

A constant in human belief has been a perennial understanding of all humans as being of divine stock and the idea that each and every one is unique in all creation.

Whitall N Perry's magnificent compilation of belief in a Creator spans all recorded time and has been bequeathed to us by every culture we know of. It is this understanding which places evaluation of human worth above and beyond human conjecture and the caprices of fashionable thought.

Atheistically rooted modernism has jettisoned this greatest and most essential of yardsticks. As a direct consequence, our understanding of all humans' worth has been contaminated by a stunted utilitarianism.

Some humans are seen as less worthy of existence than others. Tragically, this pertains to the justification of abortion as a human right or entitlement. Proselytising modernism has diminished the Western World's conscience regarding the inhumanity of terminating human life in the womb.

Its most grisly nadir is Planned Parenthood in America selling off 'foetal material' for research and, of course, for huge profits.

There is, indeed, much at stake as many of those supporting changing this great bastion of protection for both the unborn and mothers, must realise that abortion, far from being a humanely inspired procedure, has become big business in Europe, Britain and the USA.

Colm Ó Tórna, Baile Átha Cliath 5

Brexit referendum

Congratulations to Finance Minister Michael Noonan for facing up to the German Finance Minister and making it clear that Ireland will need continued access to the British market even after Brexit.

In or out of the EU, Ireland and Britain are next-door neighbours.

We shared a common travel area and trade long before the EU, and British people want both to continue.

It is a disgrace that it has taken this long for the obvious to be stated and a particular disgrace that Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been willing to sacrifice Ireland's national interests and to cause needless anxiety in the Border counties, all in the name of a spurious concept of European unity.

Neil Addison (Barrister), Liverpool, UK

Regarding the Brexit referendum, your columnist Martina Devlin (Irish Independent, June 18) says that the debate "needs to be conducted more respectfully".

I might have taken her plea more seriously if her own article hadn't been full of vitriolic attacks ("xenophobes", "frauds", "noxious" etc.) on that 50pc of the British public who have decided that the UK would be better off outside the EU.

Mote in your own eye etc., Martina?

Dr David Barnwell, Department of Spanish, NUI Maynooth

I assume that several media outlets will hold exit polls after Britain's referendum on Thursday. Will these polls be called Brexit exit polls?

Paddy Holdcroft, Monasterboice, Co Louth

No quantum of solace for drivers

Anyone who thinks that the 'Book of Quantum' is the latest book on the theory of the universe is wrong.

In fact, as explained in the front page article on car insurance hikes in your newspaper (Irish Independent, June 20), the Book of Quantum is the book of guidelines submitted by judges with the intended increase, from €15,000 to €16,500, in payouts for motor insurance whiplash claims.

Apparently, the judges have been "secretly briefed" to that effect.

One wonders who has briefed them, just as one wonders when the ruthless, spiralling cost of motor insurance is going to stop for motorists.

Concetto La Malfa, Dublin 4

Irish Independent

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