It's been my experience that most really bad ideas in this society are supported by claims that, "In this day and age we have to move with the times or we'll be a laughing stock." Not so long ago the claim that you were on the side of progress was sufficient to give you the edge in most arguments. Who wanted to be against progress and the modern world?
These days, as we sift through the rubble bequeathed by the various visionary thinkers and bold risk-takers who got us into the current mess, the notion of perpetual progress seems slightly more problematic. So when I hear the supporters of payment for inter-county managers insisting that in this day and age the GAA has to move etc etc, I'm not tremendously impressed. The idea that change is good simply because it's change doesn't hold water anymore.
And what of the other arguments? The idea that managers should be paid because some of them are being paid illegally already makes no sense at all. A logical solution to that problem would be to stamp out illegal payments rather than make them legal. The fact that some people still drive home drunk from the pub isn't an argument for scrapping the drink-driving laws.
There's also the preposterous contention that if the GAA made it legal to pay managers they could exert some control over the payments. Let's examine that one. At the moment the GAA doesn't seem able to enforce the rules on the payment of managers. So what would happen if, let's say, they brought in the payments with a ceiling of €30,000? Well, there would undoubtedly be managers who wouldn't feel this fee was sufficient. And they'd ask county boards to pay them extra money under the counter. So then you'd have the legal payment plus the illegal payment. How do we know this would happen? Isn't it the same kind of thing that's happening already?
Louth manager Peter Fitzpatrick came out in favour of bosses being paid last week. He argued that, "It's very, very time-consuming and there are serious pressures involved . . . no matter what you do you are going to have a lot of teams who aren't going to be happy with their season and that brings a lot of pressure . . . I'm lucky in that my wife is football-mad. If she wasn't, I don't know how manageable it would be, given the time commitment involved."
Nope, I don't find this idea of a managerial wage as a kind of damages settlement for personal stress and pressure particularly convincing either. And what has the wife got to do with it? If the time commitment required places stress on your family life, how is money going to make it any better? What are you going to do, bribe the missus to stay with you?
It's noteworthy that Fitzpatrick's call for payment was backed up by former Galway, Leitrim and Mayo boss John O'Mahony. Noteworthy because both men are also Fine Gael TDs. It's not surprising they approve because the idea of managers being paid while players get nothing is merely our old friend Adviser Syndrome in another form. TDs, above anyone else in our society, hew to the Thatcherite notion that the worth of a job is directly proportional to the money you get paid for it.
Mick O'Dwyer also weighed in, suggesting that managers should be "remunerated in some small way." The problem is that there are managers out there who might not be satisfied with just a small payment.
Sunday Indo Sport