Ernie Banks the legendary Chicago Cubs baseball player said “The only way to prove that you’re a good sport is to lose”.
Well that may well warm the heart but I don’t care how much of a good sport you may be, losing game after game, year after year is not any good for any man(woman or child either for that matter).
Vince Lombardi is famous for his quote “ It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get up”…………………….Please see above.
Ask a punch drunk boxer about all those times he got back up and kept receiving punishment and see how he feels. Proud? Yes. A never say die mentality? Of course. Always giving his all? Most certainly. But his brain no longer functions as perhaps it should.
This is similar to the situation many counties involved in the All Ireland Senior Football Championship on its current format find themselves in.
It’s a hot topic now in all forms of the media for weeks, months even years at this stage. The Football Championship in the GAA. How will we fix it? Is it even broken. A “B” Championship, a “Tiered” championship in case the letter “B” offends the participating teams in it. Or the best one of them all “Lets call it the Paidi O Se Cup”…… For the Love of God do people actually think because its named after the legend himself P.O that this will make teams look on it differently.
The GAA is a proud organisation and has been since 1884. It has a long and valued history. Nobody disputes the good things it has done for Irish society. But the sporting world has changed and change must be embraced or at the very least debated.
In other codes take The European Cup. This proud and historic competition was once only played in by the winners of each countries league. When change was first mooted it was met with resistance. Look at it now in its current format The Champions League. Look at how Soccer(or Football if you will to some) has developed. Look at the money generated nowadays and if our beloved GAA is often accused of being only interested in the financial side of the game then change should be welcomed by them right?
Rugby was first played as more of a provincial league in this country, the interpros were the biggest show piece. Then we moved on to an All Ireland League, then a European League where our provinces have represented us with honour and great success. The Game has gone from strength to strength in this country.
And still The GAA bickers. Internal wrangling’s. The avoidance of any significant decision making at executive level. No one looking outside the closed boxes in Croke Park. Jesus at least Sean Kelly had the courage of his convictions and went against the status Quo and brought in the change at Club All Ireland level. And thas hasn’t worked out too bad for clubs like my own in Ardfert or from other clubs in The Kingdom or indeed many other counties either for that matter. Why does the fear to change or alter the system still linger?
I’ve seen and heard of several different proposals for a new championship system and many have merit in them. The major obstacle is some counties either not seeing the world through progressive eyes or else seeing the world through the eyes they saw it through in bygone years. Or indeed through the eyes of one of not sane mind perhaps, such are some of the delusional viewpoints out there in some counties.
Don’t anyone tell me that one victory in the Championship can satisfy a players hunger to train all year round. Sure how could it? 10 or 11 months spent training just to pull off one Championship victory. Knowing that even if you do pull one off the reward could be a 10 or 12 point hiding as your reward in the next game against one of the big guns. I’m not buying this as enough motivation. What motivates players is success. And Success is silverware. The fun is in winning the Silverware or at least a crack of the whip at it. The craic afterwards with your team mates and friends. The accolades. Showing the trophy to the schools and the clubs in the county. That’s why players make sacrifices. Not to win one game in a competition surely!
I’m sure Notts County who recently got relegated to the National League(the equivalent of the 5th Division in terms of tiers) in the UK want to play Manchester Utd. But they cant. They have no God given right. Yes they were once in the first division in the UK where they played them but the Sporting world has moved on. Yes they are a proud Club. Yes maybe some of them think on any given Sunday they could turn them over(and before any smart alecs start with Mau U jokes yes yes I hear ye) BUT you have no given right to play a team that is far superior to you. You have to go earn the right. You do this by proving you can win at a different level and the possibility to advance through the levels is there for you to do so. Earn your right. Then go and enjoy your day in the sun knowing that you have earned and proven the right to be there. Not because a rule was made over 100 years ago so you feel you have a God given right still.
Take Limerick for example who recently pulled of a marvellous victory over a fancied Tipperary side. Limerick’s reward is now facing Cork. And even though Cork may be in decline in recent years they are still one of the big boys and will now be well tuned and have their ears pricked for Limerick. Add to that the fact that Limerick have to go down to Cork to play them. How can that be a level playing ground. Would it not be better for Limerick to be in a competition that they have a genuine chance of winning Silverware maybe as a curtain raiser with a big marquee final in Croke Park. Yes there maybe one huge performance in every underdog. But it’s not sustainable throughout an entire championship.
Take Waterford’s brave effort in running Clare so close. Their reward now could be a game against a division 1 team like Monaghan who are in the same draw as them in the losers round. It makes no sense. Simply put it’s not fair. The current system is not fair.
Or what’s worse. They new trend of “moral” defeats that teams are holding themselves in high regard for is even a more worrying sign. The “Oh we rattled them for 45 minutes” brigade. All the IF, BUTS & ANDS! Nonsense! You lost. Period.
Would players rather a single “W” in a competition and that is all they can strive for year in year out or lets be overly optimistic and say they might get a second “W”, or would you prefer the chance to play in a competition that they have a genuine chance of winning or getting to a National Final played on a big stage in Croke Park. Couple that with the fact the Minor Football grade is now U-17 and the stress of bringing young kids into a cauldron on big championship days needs to be looked as well, further makes an argument that the GAA needs new curtain raiser options. The crowds will come back to support their own if there is even a mere sniff of silverware.
The current All Ireland Football Championship in its current structure is equivalent to the “Adult” version of all Children that take part deserve a medal. But that’s another’s day debate.