Saturday, October 13, 2007

The GPA's Status Anxiety

Philosopher and author Alain de Botton believes there's something the vast majority of people desire even more than money. Whatever their background or social class, whatever their age or country of origin, what they desperately crave is status". With regard to the Greedy Players' Association it seems he's right.

The organisation fulfills his hypothesis perfectly. The GPA representatives Dessie Farrell, Chief Executive, and Donal Og Cusack, Chairman, whine and moan relentlessly in the newspapers and on the radio that the GAA, or more specifically, the administrators who they refer to as Croke Park, have a complete lack of respect for the players. In line with de Botton's thesis, the motivation driving the creation of the GPA was the desire to be treated with respect. The aim of the formation of the GPA, we were told at the time, was to improve the players' representation and conditions.

Except now, eight years on, the arguments have evolved, the goalposts have changed. Respect is no longer about conditions and representation. When the GPA complains that Croke Park does not value the players properly, it is no longer talking in terms of gear, facilities and mileage expenses. It's now about the money made "off their backs". Respect now means "Show us the money".

The evolution is such that GPA players now equate the resolution of the grant issue, i.e. money in their pockets, as "an acknowledgement of their status as county players". Now they judge their status in terms of financial achievement. A sense of being cared for and thought valuable culturally is not enough. The honour, the 'goodies', the flattery, and the attention earned from being a county player no longer conform to their ideals of dignity and respect. It seems their sense of self-worth and self-esteem has been diminished, because unlike the rugby and soccer players, who they meet at promotions and awards, they are not being financially compensated for participation in their sport.

And they're behaving like "spoilt children" to get their way. Their attitude demonstrates their lack of appreciation for the position they are in and that they have lost touch with the grassroots. Some within their ranks know this and have spoken out. These dissenters know that fans and supporters are fundamentally opposed to strike action (see An Fear Rua) and resent the way the GPA representatives are behaving.

The grassroots want to be inspired not held to ransom. The GPA it seems don't care. They want what Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.) in the movie Jerry Maguire, called "the Kwan". "Kwan means love, respect, community... and the dollars too".

Through their fixation on the latter, however, they're fast losing the rest of the package.

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