Tuesday 27 September 2016

Comment: 'No youngster should be humiliated in the media for playing the game they love'

Published 16/04/2016 | 18:45

28 February 2016; General view as Tyrone players run to the warm up footballs before the start of the game. Allianz Football League, Division 2, Round 3, Laois v Tyrone, O'Moore Park, Portlaoise, Co. Laois. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
28 February 2016; General view as Tyrone players run to the warm up footballs before the start of the game. Allianz Football League, Division 2, Round 3, Laois v Tyrone, O'Moore Park, Portlaoise, Co. Laois. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

There have been many phone calls to sports desks over the years to point out inaccuracies in scorelines from underage games.

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It was a common occurrence. “Sorry, but your scoreline in today’s paper is wrong. We won 13-0 not 5-0 as you have printed.”

While the callers were more often than not correct, there was a very reasonable explanation for the ‘error’. Why humiliate kids by flagging heavy defeats?

Surely, the old mantra of 'it’s the taking part that counts' should take precedence when giving young sports stars their few minutes of fame on a national media platform.

Today, the Kilkenny minor footballers, all of whom will be in school on Monday, suffered a heavy defeat against Wexford in the Leinster minor football championship. A 71-point defeat to be precise.

Of course,  media agencies are obliged to publish scorelines from any inter county match. There is no obligation, however,  to create headlines about kids who are at the receiving end of such a beating.

The Kilkenny players maybe entering their latter days as children, but is it right to highlight such one-sided scoreline? Is it right that these young lads return to their classrooms on Monday with headlines about unwanted records plastered all over the media?

It’s no secret that the hurling rich county of Kilkenny doesn’t invest too much time or effort into their football teams. But today offered the Kilkenny youngsters a chance to pull on the black and amber jersey and represent their county.

There may have been no silverware hoisted, no rousing speeches or no moving rendition of the Rose Of Mooncoin.

They took to the field of play knowing quite well that they were facing heavy defeat. Yet they didn’t shy away from the unenviable task.

Whether Kilkenny should be entered into the football championship is an argument for another day and it’s a decision that the players have absolutely no say in.

Who cares if this was the biggest Championship winning margin of all time? I doubt very much the Wexford players will be celebrating this victory with too much passion on the streets of Gorey tonight.

No youngster should be subjected to such a beating on the field of play and they certainly shouldn’t be humiliated in the media for turning up to play the game they love.

Apart from media outlets publishing hard hitting headlines about a game that wouldn’t normally get a mention, there were plenty of barbs aimed on social media.

Maybe if their own child comes home crying after such a defeat, they may change their tune.

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