IMPRESSIONABLE KIDS KEEP EYE ON THE BALL
HAVE you seen hordes of teenagers relieving themselves in glassware this week? Didn’t think so.
That’s because kids care only that Samir Carruthers can make a tackle, not where he puts it on a day out at the races.
To the surprise of nobody with a memory of childhood, a study conducted by the University of East Anglia has found that young people don’t view footballers as role models and pay no attention to what they get up to off the pitch.
“What we found, pretty much across the board, was that elite professional football players are regarded only for their skills,” said UEA’s Dr Michael Skey.
“There was no real evidence that football players are seen by young people as role models, beyond wanting to be as good as them at football.”
As adults, we are conditioned to worry. Scaremongering and lazy stereotyping teaches us to think of teenagers as gullible sponges gormlessly apeing their heroes. But, as Skey and his team discovered, it isn’t the case.
“Young people aren’t stupid,” he added.“They understand the role of the media in hyping players’ indiscretions. They show a healthy degree of cynicism to what is said and done.
“So, unless we find some actual evidence that a high-profile professional footballer smoking in a LasVegas jacuzzi is encouraging young people to smoke, then we should give up trying to pretend that footballers have this sort of power to influence young people.”
Young people have an incredibly narrow sphere of interest. At 13, I liked football, playing outside and computer games. Everything else was irrelevant.
Gazza wasn’t an alcoholic. He was the bloke who bewitched a floundering Colin Hendry to score that majestic goal at Wembley. Tony Adams wasn’t a drink driver who did time. He was the Arsenal skipper.
As an adult, I can’t help but view their careers through the prism of experience. As a kid,I saw them only as fabulous footballers.
Skey’s study illustrates that nothing much has changed in 25 years. The kids, as ever, are all right. It’s everybody else who has a problem.