Longford Leader columnist Mattie Fox: Little respect being shown to college GAA players

Mattie Fox

Longford Leader columnist, Mattie Fox

Why is it, can anyone tell me, that rugby and soccer both outscore media coverage as far as front page coverage is concerned, in Ireland?

Two of the lesser sports in terms of basic popularity. i.e. scientifically measured by the number of people playing them, every week. Gaelic Football, closely followed by hurling leads that graph, and is the most popular sport by a huge margin. I find it inexplicable to fathom why on earth gaelic football, and hurling - both of which are hugely more popular and played by more people than any other sport in Ireland - yet rugby receives more front page highlights in all the main Irish papers week after week.

Now maybe it’s based on the fact that other sports can spend serious amounts of money throughout the year, which can possibly be understood, or is it the fact that the main papers are perceived to be read mostly by people in big cities? Either way, it’s a strange anomaly.

The GAA should not accept that the national game is constantly relegated to coverage in the latter pages of papers again, and again. It is, after all, by far the leading sport. How many would have liked to see a photo of Brian Fenton, or David Moran on the Independent front page on Saturday, February 10, instead of a shot of Rob Kearney training in Edinburgh?

Rugby - which is by no means a bad sport - also commanded page three, in the Independent, on the same Saturday. Plus the front page of the sports section, along with four full pages inside.

Same story - without the front page - in Irish Times, which ran the front page of the sports section, plus the four following pages, all devoted to rugby, almost two pages for soccer, with gaelic games receiving one full page and one single column on the second soccer page.

None of this is designed or intended to be negative about rugby or soccer (I think rugby’s incredibly risky, and in denial about injuries, but players decide). Does this qualify as balanced, when there are four divisions - with every team in division one playing over the immediate Saturday and Sunday. Balanced?

Meanwhile the Sigerson Cup and other college related competitions, show up the scientists in the colleges in a very bad light. Playing guys two days in a row? Usually after a county game.

When we hear another passive voice in the argument about college football, I wonder why anyone who understands science can possibly allow players be exposed to the rigours of physical risk continuously. We talk much about respect, in the GAA.

Personally, I don’t see much respect being shown to college students who are harried and pulled from pillar to post in pursuit of unquestioned college priorities. If lay men, who didn’t know any better were responsible, it would be bad enough. But when the perpetrators are supposedly educated people who know better, and who are reputed to understand the risks associated with young bones at a tender age?

It is, to coin a phrase, “quite disgusting”.

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