Sunday 17 December 2017

Sporting silence must be golden -- and not just in the oval office

Sean Diffley

Ideally, a referee combines the integrity of a supreme court judge, the physical agility of an acrobat, the endurance of Job and the imperturbability of Buddha.

No, it wasn't Kerry boss Jack O'Connor elucidating on his philosophy that whatever some may believe, referees are human beings and subject to all the emotions that afflict the rest of us.

The definition was, I think, a rather lavish outburst from someone who would seem to spend most of his time in Valhalla. In our everyday, banal, world we hardly ever come across referees as imperturbable as Buddha, whatever about the integrity of a judge.

Nevertheless, players berating referees is, as O'Connor has told his players, unacceptable. The constant practice of arguing with referees is not confined to Kerry players and seems to be a nationwide pandemic.

It is a problem not confined to Gaelic games.

Remember Ron Atkinson, the former Man United manager. He came out with this gem in 1980. "I never comment on referees and I'm not going to break the habit of a lifetime for that prat."

Perhaps a peek into the IRB 'Laws of the Game' book would be productive. Law 6 makes it clear who is in charge in rugby matches. As will be noted, only a captain can approach a referee when he has blown for an infringement. And a brief explanation is given by the ref.

And the law states: "The referee is the sole judge of fact and the law. All his decisions are binding on the players. He cannot alter a decision unless he observes that a touch judge's flag is raised." Clear, simple and effective.

But excuse a dramatic change of subject -- the coming Olympics. We know that pre-Olympic visitors to our green and not too misty isle will not materialise.

But a heartening bit of news is that a touring company styling itself Post-Olympic Tour, will visit us -- and the Book of Kells and maybe the All-Ireland finals -- after the events in London.

So good for our tourist trade.

Irish Independent

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