Self-destruction of the amateur status
Sir — Joe Brolly and Colm O’Rourke appear to be somewhat in tandem with their debilitative excoriation of things GAA. While they offer contrasting takes on the ‘state-of-play’ (Sport, Sunday
Independent, October 1), the sum of their points bodes bleak, very bleak.
If it’s not the increasingly acute ‘club-county’ conundrum, it’s the ongoing corporate aggrandisement of the association by anything but stealth. Both pundits offer absolute accuracy in their respective commentaries, which collate a testament of inevitable self-destruction of the voluntary and amateur status of the games as we have known them.
Draining the life out of the once-pervasive community dynamism, the so-called ‘powersthat-be’ are allowing the ball to be dropped, and kicked out of the park. Gradually the whole shebang is being sacrificed to ‘corporatised elitism’.
For sure, the Croke Park stadium has been a phenomenal achievement. But from the moment it was conceived, initiated and delivered, the whole community amateur status of the games began transmogrifying into a mega-corporate proposition, which had to be constantly cultivated to keep the top-end echelons fully lubricated, while the rank and file had to swallow the dregs.
The recent pattern of prostituting the television rights to a ‘pay-for-view’ template, for a ruthless worldwide Machiavellian broadcast outfit, belies and betrays the spirit, ethos and innate sensibility which were at the traditional beating heart of the community. This decision alone betrays a symbolic derisory disrespect of the wonderful weave of community energy which has hitherto kept the whole show on the road.
Add to that, the distorting over-dominance of county development squads from early teen-years onwards, and the ridiculous (nay, scurrilous) training demands foisted on both these young players and senior county squads is an imploding inevitability. What with some teams training on Christmas morning, it has become a surebet harbinger for gradual self-destruction, which will play out over time... and short time, too. An authentic amateur community sport cannot possibly survive such exponential onslaught.
This all cultivates a fundamental ‘win-at-all-costs’ mentality, which is now de rigueur for any ‘self-respecting’ team. Such a philosophy does little for community or societal well-being, with a ‘do-anything-youcan-get-away-with’ core theme of cheating gamesmanship and off-the-ball shenanigans.
We have seen plenty of this carry-on in big matches over the past few years. People claim a robust physical game is always going to ‘overflow’, but it has all gone beyond that to almost empty all sportsmanship out of the game.
Perhaps, there may yet be a ‘Damascene’ conversion to halt the decline, and prevent the games from going over the cliffface. Let’s hope so. We’ll pray to St Paul for same!
PJ Cosgrove, Lismore, Co Waterford