Friday 22 November 2019

Sports stars show they can make a real difference

Dublin selector Dr. David Hickey
Dublin selector Dr. David Hickey

Ger Gilroy

We parked the sport, largely, last Saturday afternoon.

It's rare enough that the rest of real life impinges so spectacularly on Off The Ball that we abandon coverage of events on the field, but on this occasion, we ripped up the running order to focus on the referendum.

We declared a celebration from the moment we came on air. We even played music.

A week earlier, we had spoken to Hugo MacNeill, Trevor Hogan and Dr David Hickey about sports people using their profile to wield an influence on the outside world.

Dr Hickey talked about there being a moment in everyone's life that you get to decide if you have the courage to squeeze the universe into a ball and ask a question. He did. Hogan and MacNeill both did.

Across the campaign so many people had courage from the world of sport.

Mickey Ned O'Sullivan's beautiful, poignant article about his boys, Eamonn Coghlan's honesty weeks ago when there weren't masses of people standing up and Rory O'Carroll's calm interjection at the end were all worthy.

For Eamon McGee, there is the quiet satisfaction of knowing that Donegal South voted yes by a handful of votes. If he changed a dozen people's minds, he did his bit.

At the end of a sports person's career we make a reckoning based on medals. From now on, we might also ask 'did they do their bit?'.

Irish Independent

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