Friday, November 16, 2007

Why you should oppose the GPA strike - Reason No. 4

Playing for your county is a choice. It requires dedication and commitment above the norm. Nobody is denying that. But, why try to equate this commitment, as the GPA do, in financial terms? Inter-county players, though admittedly not all of them, already "profit" from their talents. As this letter to the Indo points out, "the very ones who are calling for strike action are the ones who are, ironically, reaping the greatest rewards from the sport". There are huge perks for the modern-day GAA player, jobs, endorsements, training camps abroad, holidays in exotic locations (with their wives/girlfriends paid for!), etc.

Comments from Kilkenny hurler Eddie Brennan, are revealing of the GPA's true thinking. He's resentful that his participation in Gaelic games has curbed his earning potential in the Celtic Tiger economy, as he's unable to do 'nixers' in the evening to supplement his income. Eddie's values, and those of the GPA, are clearly socio-economic. Davy Fitz today, confirms this assessment. A former GPA member, he quit because, in his words, "they are all about money". Contrast their attitude with that of Colm McCullagh, who chose to quit paid football with Omagh Town when Mickey Harte selected him for the Tyrone team in 2004. Explaining his decision, he talked about the dreams and emotions of winning and All-Ireland, not money and compensation.

Playing for your county is voluntary in both meanings of the word - optional and unpaid. Let's keep it that way.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Why you should oppose the GPA strike - Reason No. 3

Playing for your county is an honour and a privilege. By striking the players are demonstrating that their loyalty is conditional - conditional on reimbursement. Once they fumble in the greasy till there's no turning back. They're soiled, and from now on, it's just a question of how dirty they can get.

Last year, in a little publicised move, England's footballers pledged to donate all of their match fees - win, lose or draw - to charitable causes. It was suggested that playing for their country should be an honour, rather than a pay packet. Every one of the players agreed. Ok, so they are millionaires, but the point is they wanted to demonstrate their commitment, dedication and their loyalty, by breaking the financial link. They wanted to establish a principle.

Dessie Farrell and the Greedy Players' Association want the opposite to happen. They want that link established once and for all. They want to formalise the connection between representing their county and compensation. They suffer from an inferiority complex and lack respect because they don't get financially rewarded for their commitment. Dessie Farrell claims that the players' assertion of their rights in this manner is just another initiative in the history of the GAA which has moved the organisation closer to professionalism. But, paid administrators, paid coaches, paid support staff for teams, corporate boxes, the advent of sponsorship logos on jerseys, ticket prices, hospitality and broadcasting rights have done what paying the players won't do, advanced the game and the oassociation at all levels. How else could the GAA have competed over the last twenty years with other sports and other leisure activities for the interest of Ireland's youth? What Dessie Farrell and the GPA's supporters are too shortsighted to see, or simply don't want to see, is the Pandora's box of pain that paying compensation to players is going to open up. What was good for the GAA as a whole is now only good for a small minority.

In the 1950s, when the Dublin hurling team enjoyed a period of success, there were many complaints that the Dublin team was full of "culchies", who worked with the Civil Service and lived in Dublin. In years to come, when the born and bred Dubs can't get a place in the Dublin teams because of culchie imports, attracted by the bigger crowds and better wages, we'll look back on this point, and wish we could turn the years again.