Gleanings From The Gaels
TO me, sport is all about enjoyment, from supporting Cork in an All-Ireland final to coaching the U6s on a Saturday morning. If you’re not enjoying it, why bother?
And that’s what’s worrying about sport today, are we all losing the enjoyment factor? Are the Cork senior footballers really enjoying what they’re doing at present, it certainly doesn’t look it on the pitch or in their faces during matches.
Are the O’Donovan brothers really enjoying their rowing? Of course they are; you can see it in everything they do. Likewise, our camogie team last Sunday, but is that because they’re winning?
Is enjoyment in sport now all about winning? Is the day gone when just taking part was good enough and what happened to that Olympic motto about taking part? Apart from the participants, are the fans and supporters enjoying their sports anymore and why are the crowds at matches, in all sports, shrinking every year?
Of course, sport can be serious and enjoyable if we take the right attitude but what happens when sport steps over the boundary of sportsmanship and becomes something else, something nobody wants to see? These thoughts came to mind last weekend when we witnessed two sporting episodes that definitely crossed the line of sportsmanship and enjoyment.
In Drimoleague, last Saturday night we watched a marvellous game of football in the replay of the SW JAFC final. Kilmacabea and Tadhg Mac Cárthaigh served up a most enjoyable contest in the drawn game, but the replay was even better despite the weather. This was real championship football, with the honour of the little village at stake.
Both teams giving their all for their native places, tremendous entertainment, a credit to all involved. The parish rivalry is alive and well in rural Ireland GAA and that is indeed a positive, commendable part of our games.
What transpired at the end of the game, however, crossed the boundary of all that is good and decent in the game. There is not, and never should be, any place in sport, any sport, for the kind of hooliganism that occurred at the end of the game. It totally spoiled what had been a marvellous contest and demeaned all that is good and positive about local GAA.
All those who took part in it should look in the mirror and ask themselves why they are involved in sport. If they can’t answer that question properly, then it’s time to take a break until they do find the right answer.
Clann na nGael had gone to a lot of trouble to host these two games and had done a wonderful job, a huge crowd turning up each day. They deserved better than what we witnessed at the end. Those scenes went viral afterwards and that final will now always be associated with those scenes, not the great games or the marvellous arrangements.
It’s totally unfair to the people who gave so much of their time and effort to have everything right on the day. What happened was a kick in the teeth to those volunteers and must never, ever be acceptable.
We all worry about violence in modern society and sport is one way, healthy sport, to combat this rising trend. A sports field should never be allowed to be used for violence of any kind, especially the type we sadly witnessed on Saturday night. Hopefully, the matter will be dealt with properly by the people in charge of the fixture and we have no doubt it will.
Then on Saturday night we sat in front of the television, still reeling from what happened in Drimoleague, to watch the ladies’ tennis final from New York. What we saw was as bad, if not worse, in a totally different way, to what we had seen in Drimoleague.
Professional sport has taken many wrong turns, mostly because of finance, in recent decades and when we see multi-millionaire sports people behaving like spoiled brats on a tennis court, then we do really wonder why we are sports mad.
The behaviour of Serena Williams was totally unacceptable to all honest sports fans on two obvious fronts. First, because she couldn’t accept that she was being beaten fair and square by a better opponent and, second, because she destroyed a moment of great achievement and joy for her young Japanese opponent, who was winning her first ever major title.
To see that girl crying and apologising to the crowd for beating Williams was one of the saddest moments we have ever witnessed in sport. The fans who boo-ed at the end were a disgrace and Williams, far too late, and too wrapped up in her own agenda, realised the damage she was doing to her young opponent.
To claim afterwards that she was doing what she did in the name of women athletes was the biggest load of selfish rubbish we have ever heard. Here’s one sports fan who will be switching channels the next time Williams appears on the screen!
In contrast to all the above, we watched a junior hurling semi-final on Sunday night in Ahiohill between Kilbree and St James’ that was just as serious as the final in Drimoleague and the final in New York and meant just as much to the participants. Yet, it was played in the best of spirits, was a real thriller and everybody shook hands afterwards. It restored our sagging faith in sport in general and was a credit to both clubs.
Sport, when played in this manner, is the greatest pastime in the world and we really enjoy it. Well done to all involved.
– Slán go Fóill