Examining amateruism – Jarlath
I WRITE this while watching the closing ceremony of the Olympics. Over 10,000 athletes have filed into the arena, giddy with excitement, camcorders in hand, some of them clutching their most coveted prize in Olympian life.
Their medals, the currency of life change and affirmation that all the effort was worth it. All of the athletes are amateur, like our own GAA players, but how amateur?
It may surprise some readers that the concept of the amateur ethos, which is such a core value and part of the culture of the GAA has a strange global bedfellow, since the story of amateur sport has a completely different historical narrative to that which we now understand.
The GAA’s reasons for amateurism, apart from the fact that the financial sums just don’t add up if we were to go pay for play, is that it ties in with the cultural aspect. It epitomises the selfless dedication of the player who wants only one thing; success with his team mates, all of whom are neighbours of his and share the same dreams and world view that he has.
This is why the Seanie Johnston saga touched so many; simply because there was a bewilderment that someone would actually want to renounce his place of birth and play for a competing county.
Such is the ethos of the GAA etched into our very being that grass roots Gaels simply couldn’t get their head around why a player would want to transfer to another team. It all boils down to loyalty. Yet this happens as part of the daily news in other sports and no one ever bats an eyelid.
The full story is in the current issue of Gaelic Life, published on Thursday August 16. Buy your copy now in your local newsagent, or you can purchase the online version – for only 90p – by clicking here