Wednesday 13 November 2019

Player interaction with media vital in crowded sports market – Duffy

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

THE practice of a 'media ban' being imposed on some players prior to major fixtures is one of the frustrating problems the GAA encounter in their efforts to promote the games, according to its director general Paraic Duffy.

Duffy has devoted a considerable section of his annual report to the increased promotion and marketing of the games, which is designed to keep attendance figures at current levels.

Some 1,360,071 supporters passed through the turnstiles for the 2012 inter-county football and hurling championship seasons, a performance hailed by Duffy, given the current economic climate and the growing tendency of supporters to watch ever-improving TV coverage.

But Duffy has posed the question as to what the benefits of a pre-match media ban really are?

"This refusal to let players speak to journalists greatly limits and undermines the efforts we make to market our games," he wrote. "Where is the proven correlation between avoiding the media and winning matches?

"We must all realise that we are competing for coverage of our games with soccer, rugby and other international sports.

"Vast quantities of readily available material on a range of international sports are available on a daily basis to all media outlets and at relatively low cost," he pointed out.

Duffy believes that while not every player is comfortable with media engagement, there are many who are "articulate" and well-versed to benefit from interaction and support efforts to promote the games.

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Duffy has noted concerns in the US, where NFL attendances are beginning to fall as more fans opt for home comforts.

"As the technology of sports broadcasting improves and as HD and 3D make the viewing experience more and more dramatic, greater will be the temptation for some supporters to conclude that watching a match on television is as good as being at it," he wrote.

Duffy believes the next two years will determine the future of the International Rules series, suggesting that the "lack of a positive response from players or supporters in October will, from a GAA perspective, raise a serious doubt about the future of the competition."

He revealed yesterday that Cavan had really "wanted" the first Test for Kingspan Breffni Park, and that was a factor in the decision to send the game there in October.

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