Friday, May 2, 2008

The GAA and the Six O'Clock News Effect

Tommy Lyons. What can I say about Tommy Lyons? Not a lot, except that his 'best before' date is usually about one and half years after taking over a football team. By that time the relationship between Tommy and the team has usually decayed and is no longer healthy. 

His comments about the suspensions dished out to Dublin and Meath, however, merit some attention. Lyons believes the GAA were very heavy handed. Rightly, so I believe (before you holler in protest I'm from Meath so there's no bias in my opinion)--it's time to stamp out violence in GAA, in whatever form it manifests--tussle, scuffle, shemozzle or brawl-- once and for all.

Lyons reckons the only reason why the Association reacted so forcefully was because of the prominence the incident received on RTE. "I've always said make the six o'clock news in the GAA and you have a problem," Lyons stated. "Whether it's Semple-gate or Parnell-gate or whatever other gate you want. Make the six o'clock news and you are in trouble and it's as simple as that".

Tommy's definitely on to something. Dublin and Meath were made an example of, although Armagh and Cork players had a tussle of their own that went unpunished. Same day, same competition, same sport, pretty much the same incident. But, not the same penalties dished out. Apparently, a Dublin supporter made his displeasure with this injustice clear to Nicky Brennan in Parc Tailteann last Saturday, with a banner which showed the two incidents in a photographic montage and posed the question -- "Spot the Difference?"

Tackling discipline in the GAA cannot just be a-seen-to-be-taking-action show for the national media because the cameras were turned on. It's got to be consistent and across the board--intercounty, club, junior, underage, wherever it rears its ugly head. There are enough officials -- one referee, two linesmen, and four umpires--to capture the majority of what occurs on and off the ball to make it possible.  

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The fascination of football (soccer)

The GAA may have its problems, but at least, as Kevin Myers reminded us this week, we don't have to loathe ourselves for our interest in Gaelic games. Boggers, culchies, whatever we may be, we don't feel sordid or seamy because of our fascination with the GAA. 
Kevin Myers"I despise the entire modern obsession with soccer, with its flash, overpaid, oafish stars, and their brainless shopaholic molls; and, worst of all, their cretinous tribes of supporters. And that's the real measure of the power of soccer in modern culture. Even the unwilling are drawn to take sides. We cannot resist experiencing powerful feelings over contests in which we logically should have no emotional or intellectual interest." 
What struck me is how Myers' opinion of modern football resonates with Michel Platini's. Remember him? Socks rolled down to his ankles, shirt untucked, almost ambling about the pitch--the antithesis of today's athletic, brylcreem-sponsored, diamond-studded footballers. 
Platini's irreverent style on the pitch has now been transformed, as President of UEFA, into displeasure for what he considers the perversion of football. There's something wrong, he says, with modern football's relationship with money and he wants to change that. Platini knows that football will not survive if it continues with its commercial indulgence and extravagance at the expense of the grassroots. Platini wants to salvage "the game" and "let the fascination of sport prevail over the fascination for money". 
There's not much razzle dazzle in GAA. There's no fraud. Nobody feels compelled to watch it. And the GAA is all the better for it.