Author Topic: Does the GAA's amateur status work against working class players?  (Read 1819 times)

Eamonnca1

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Splitting off from the Paraic Duffy thread because I think this deserves a discussion of its own.

(5) Another new evolution in GAA has been the amount of time involved in playing intercounty, which in turn means that whole swathes of people are ruled out, purely because their employers aren't able to be as flexible. And yes, that feeds into elitism, because it means that if you have a Tesco employee in Kinlough, playing for Melvin Gaels, and another five miles down the road in Bundoran, playing for Realt na Mara, and they are both potential county players - the county with the far greater level of funding (in this case Donegal) has a far better chance of getting their player a handy job that's compatible with playing county, while the guy in Leitrim has no option but to keep his job with all the weekend and evening hours that are incompatible with joining a county panel.

This is a great point. For all the talk about "elitism" regarding anything that looks professional, there are advantages and disadvantages to the amateur status. One of the biggest disadvantages is that people in certain types of job who may be good potential players cannot rise to the top because of work commitments. Public sector employees with very understanding bosses and long summer holidays are at a huge advantage over labourers and the self-employed who lose a day's pay for every day they don't work.

Sports like soccer and rugby used to be "gentleman's" pastimes, i.e. a hobby for the upper class only. The only way the working man had access to playing the games in front of big crowds was if the clubs compensated them for time lost at work. This evolved into pay-for-play. The powers-that-be resisted the encroachment of pay-for-play because they didn't want the working class anywhere near them, but they had to bow to the unstoppable market forces in the end because payments were creeping in regardless of the rules.

In those days it was the amateur status that was the "elitist" mindset. Michael Cusack founded the GAA not just to preserve Ireland's sporting identity, but also because he wanted the working man to have access to sport.

Is the make-up of today's inter-county panels looking increasingly white collar as opposed to blue collar? Are we so dedicated to the amateur status that we're losing sight of Cusack's original vision? Is the GAA's amateur status, however well intentioned, inadvertently squeezing the working man out of top flight hurling and football?

Discuss.

Syferus

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Re: Does the GAA's amateur status work against working class players?
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2017, 06:31:59 PM »
Panels are more educated because people are generally more educated these days, and there is a tendency to use college students too. If you’re a very good footballer you will get a scholarship above or under the table unless you’re a complete dunce, so it’s an easy choice to make to go and get a degree when you’re 18 and good at football.

I see a different aspect of it, that good players tend toward jobs that give them latitude to train for IC, or else stay in education and do a second degree at third level. I wonder how many would be teachers or long-term students were they not IC players?
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 06:34:34 PM by Syferus »

Lone Shark

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Re: Does the GAA's amateur status work against working class players?
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2017, 03:48:08 PM »
I don't think there ever was a time (in my lifetime anyway) when you could realistically expect to live the life of a junior doctor in a hospital for example, and for that to be compatible with playing intercounty games. There may have been exceptions, but in general there were always jobs that were fairly incompatible with the type of commitment required - the key thing however was that this didn't apply to the ordinary working man.

We're getting to the stage now where the vast majority of private sector roles are simply a no-go for a player who wants an intercounty career, while even the likes of the army and the gardaí is difficult, albeit manageable. This is for a variety of reasons.

(1) How we work has changed - there is less manual labour, so the "base" that a lot of people start from, before they train, can be quite low.

(2) The demands of the average job has changed. There are far fewer "handy numbers" than was once the case, since the recession flushed away a lot of them. There are less in the public sector, and very, very few in the private. These are jobs where ducking out at 3pm was no big deal, where there was never any need for the employee to stay late, and where holidays could be taken as and when they were required.

(3) 24-hour culture. Aside from the "always on" aspect of some jobs, there's also the simple fact that it's now fully expected that a lot of retail and service work is seven days, and that means that a lot of the ancillary work that supports that frontline employment is also not just office hours.


All of these are nothing to do with the GAA. That's just sociology at work. However on the flip side, the demands of playing intercounty GAA have moved to a level where only teachers, students and those with absolutely no social life whatsoever can make it work. In the past few years I've interviewed a number of players who have given up careers and areas of study that they liked, all because they wanted to play intercounty more, and they knew that they had to bite the bullet and go teaching to make that happen. Moreover, it seems like the AVERAGE staff room now has three or four intercounty players in it. There are some areas of the country where it is well known that you'll only get a teaching job if no intercounty men are in need, because they get first call. I've also interviewed others who have jobs that you would expect to be more demanding, but then they throw in the kicker - they've no time for a personal life. One young player admitted (and he didn't see anything wrong with this) that he had no girlfriend because he simply didn't have time, and all of his friends outside of football simply accept that they won't see him at all, barring maybe a few times in November and December. 

We now have managers who expect players not just to be available for a match at a certain time on a Saturday and Sunday, but to take the whole weekend off. That means that you can't just take advantage of the good nature of your colleague and swap shifts from one day to the other, or from late to early, you have to simply not work.

We have early morning sessions as well as evening sessions, so the accountant in the lead up to tax deadlines, or the marketing manager in the lead up to Christmas, or anyone who's extra busy for any reason, can't just work the extra hours earlier in the day - they're caught on both sides.

In the bigger counties, there are training holidays, and the excuse of "I can't get off work" isn't tolerated. We're increasing the number of intercounty games, increasing the number of club games, and as a result, more and more of them are on midweek, with consequent pressure on players, particularly those based away from home.




You can't do anything about the fact that some players will want to push themselves, and to make extra sacrifices. They'll take the extra hour to cook the extra healthy meal from raw ingredients, they'll take the hour to do the stretching and swim session on the day off, and they'll get to bed very early to still have seven hours sleep under their belt, even if they've a 6:30 am training the next morning. It only works if you've no family, or a very understanding partner who's happy to slot into the few brief windows you have in the week, but if guys want to make that choice, that's their decision. Nobody can police that, but there's a lot more that can be done on an official level, and there seems to be no interest in doing it.

Equally, there will always be counties that are able to place players in roles where they will only be expected to do as much work as playing intercounty GAA will allow, and that the employer offers the job on that basis. However surely somebody, somewhere should shout stop, and point out how it's not sustainable to allow things continue to escalate like this.

Already in Ireland there are plenty of statistics showing that we send far more people to third level than makes sense - lots of young people are just delaying adulthood, instead of pursuing viable careers that suit their personality. Per capita, we send far more people to third level than Germany, Sweden, or Holland, and it's getting to the stage that intercounty GAA is a huge factor in this - guys who would have been far better served by learning a trade, or doing a brief, specific course in a PLC that will prepare them for a role in whatever large company might be the main employer in their area, instead get a scholarship and do courses in sports science, strength and conditioning, arts (with a view to teaching) and other stuff that the country doesn't need, and more importantly, that they don't want, for no reason other than it suits playing county.



Syferus

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Re: Does the GAA's amateur status work against working class players?
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2017, 03:56:17 PM »
At the end of the day a degree opens up far more doors in a lot of fields. That we're channeling more to third level should be a point for pride, to be honest. The fact is if they want to learn a trade that avenue is open to them after college, but so many more avenues (STEM in particular) would be closed shops to them without degrees. The idea of someone doing one thing for 40 years and retiring or staying in the same job for decades is long over in my generation so the freedom of choice a half decent degree gives you will only become more attractive.

rosnarun

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Re: Does the GAA's amateur status work against working class players?
« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2017, 04:23:20 PM »
i know gegree have been devalued but not every one can just decide to do a degree and then another one or an MA on top of it. nor would many want to .
Matches are not a problem but if your asked to train 4 to 5 nights a week that where it get difficult esp in larger counties where some home based players might be over an hour away from training not to mention one based the other side of the country .
but Even if you tried to limit Training sessions would any one obey it?
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Rossfan

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Re: Does the GAA's amateur status work against working class players?
« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2017, 04:40:07 PM »
Indeed. Remember those bans on training in certain months over recent years ;D
It's up there with unpaid managers and the Amateur American Summer circus.
On the main issue I'm afraid well never get back to Paddy Bawn Brosnan out fishing for a week, coming into Dingle late Friday night,  tying up th'oul boat and heading to Dublin to play the AI Final.
Teachers, Students, Gardai and Army. After that ......
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Lone Shark

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Re: Does the GAA's amateur status work against working class players?
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2017, 05:04:16 PM »
At the end of the day a degree opens up far more doors in a lot of fields. That we're channeling more to third level should be a point for pride, to be honest. The fact is if they want to learn a trade that avenue is open to them after college, but so many more avenues (STEM in particular) would be closed shops to them without degrees. The idea of someone doing one thing for 40 years and retiring or staying in the same job for decades is long over in my generation so the freedom of choice a half decent degree gives you will only become more attractive.

Not to take this discussion off on another tangent, but why, exactly? I've no problem with preparing for the world of work, and I've no problem with learning to enhance and sharpen the mind generally - these are both good things. However lets be honest, we're not talking about lads doing advanced mathematics, chemical engineering or even Irish literature and history here. Students that are suited to pursuing STEM would be in college anyway, that would be their natural inclination. If they are good footballers and hurlers and they get a scholarship or some other form of support for a course that they'd be happy to take if they had two left feet, great. 

However the advanced European economies I spoke about still produce as many STEM graduates as we do. We all know that's not the type of courses that a lot of these young athletes are doing. They're makey-uppey courses that have about one job for every five graduates, and where the main attraction is the comparatively low workload. Or they're doing arts, in order to teach, which I'll say again is great IF THAT'S WHAT THEY'D LIKE TO DO WITH THEIR LIVES. But many of them don't.

And why in the name of God does it make sense to go to college and then learn a trade?? Anyone can choose to change career, but deliberately wasting four years in terms of life and career development seems daft to say the least.

Indeed. Remember those bans on training in certain months over recent years ;D
It's up there with unpaid managers and the Amateur American Summer circus.
On the main issue I'm afraid well never get back to Paddy Bawn Brosnan out fishing for a week, coming into Dingle late Friday night,  tying up th'oul boat and heading to Dublin to play the AI Final.
Teachers, Students, Gardai and Army. After that ......

Agreed - it would be extremely difficult. However there is lots you could do, which would also serve a greater purpose. For example if the issue of financing county teams was taken away from county boards, and there was closer scrutiny of accounts, then it would be a lot easier to curtail some of these things.

bennydorano

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Re: Does the GAA's amateur status work against working class players?
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2017, 05:43:26 PM »
I don't think there ever was a time (in my lifetime anyway) when you could realistically expect to live the life of a junior doctor in a hospital for example, and for that to be compatible with playing intercounty games. There may have been exceptions, but in general there were always jobs that were fairly incompatible with the type of commitment required - the key thing however was that this didn't apply to the ordinary working man.
Last Doctor I can think of that played for Armagh was Colin Hanratty in the late 80s. I remember him citing work commitments in his early retirement  (tho he did have a bad leg break).

Great post btw.

Il Bomber Destro

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Re: Does the GAA's amateur status work against working class players?
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2017, 05:49:40 PM »
I don't think there ever was a time (in my lifetime anyway) when you could realistically expect to live the life of a junior doctor in a hospital for example, and for that to be compatible with playing intercounty games. There may have been exceptions, but in general there were always jobs that were fairly incompatible with the type of commitment required - the key thing however was that this didn't apply to the ordinary working man.

We're getting to the stage now where the vast majority of private sector roles are simply a no-go for a player who wants an intercounty career, while even the likes of the army and the gardaí is difficult, albeit manageable. This is for a variety of reasons.

(1) How we work has changed - there is less manual labour, so the "base" that a lot of people start from, before they train, can be quite low.

(2) The demands of the average job has changed. There are far fewer "handy numbers" than was once the case, since the recession flushed away a lot of them. There are less in the public sector, and very, very few in the private. These are jobs where ducking out at 3pm was no big deal, where there was never any need for the employee to stay late, and where holidays could be taken as and when they were required.

(3) 24-hour culture. Aside from the "always on" aspect of some jobs, there's also the simple fact that it's now fully expected that a lot of retail and service work is seven days, and that means that a lot of the ancillary work that supports that frontline employment is also not just office hours.


All of these are nothing to do with the GAA. That's just sociology at work. However on the flip side, the demands of playing intercounty GAA have moved to a level where only teachers, students and those with absolutely no social life whatsoever can make it work. In the past few years I've interviewed a number of players who have given up careers and areas of study that they liked, all because they wanted to play intercounty more, and they knew that they had to bite the bullet and go teaching to make that happen. Moreover, it seems like the AVERAGE staff room now has three or four intercounty players in it. There are some areas of the country where it is well known that you'll only get a teaching job if no intercounty men are in need, because they get first call. I've also interviewed others who have jobs that you would expect to be more demanding, but then they throw in the kicker - they've no time for a personal life. One young player admitted (and he didn't see anything wrong with this) that he had no girlfriend because he simply didn't have time, and all of his friends outside of football simply accept that they won't see him at all, barring maybe a few times in November and December. 

We now have managers who expect players not just to be available for a match at a certain time on a Saturday and Sunday, but to take the whole weekend off. That means that you can't just take advantage of the good nature of your colleague and swap shifts from one day to the other, or from late to early, you have to simply not work.

We have early morning sessions as well as evening sessions, so the accountant in the lead up to tax deadlines, or the marketing manager in the lead up to Christmas, or anyone who's extra busy for any reason, can't just work the extra hours earlier in the day - they're caught on both sides.

In the bigger counties, there are training holidays, and the excuse of "I can't get off work" isn't tolerated. We're increasing the number of intercounty games, increasing the number of club games, and as a result, more and more of them are on midweek, with consequent pressure on players, particularly those based away from home.




You can't do anything about the fact that some players will want to push themselves, and to make extra sacrifices. They'll take the extra hour to cook the extra healthy meal from raw ingredients, they'll take the hour to do the stretching and swim session on the day off, and they'll get to bed very early to still have seven hours sleep under their belt, even if they've a 6:30 am training the next morning. It only works if you've no family, or a very understanding partner who's happy to slot into the few brief windows you have in the week, but if guys want to make that choice, that's their decision. Nobody can police that, but there's a lot more that can be done on an official level, and there seems to be no interest in doing it.

Equally, there will always be counties that are able to place players in roles where they will only be expected to do as much work as playing intercounty GAA will allow, and that the employer offers the job on that basis. However surely somebody, somewhere should shout stop, and point out how it's not sustainable to allow things continue to escalate like this.

Already in Ireland there are plenty of statistics showing that we send far more people to third level than makes sense - lots of young people are just delaying adulthood, instead of pursuing viable careers that suit their personality. Per capita, we send far more people to third level than Germany, Sweden, or Holland, and it's getting to the stage that intercounty GAA is a huge factor in this - guys who would have been far better served by learning a trade, or doing a brief, specific course in a PLC that will prepare them for a role in whatever large company might be the main employer in their area, instead get a scholarship and do courses in sports science, strength and conditioning, arts (with a view to teaching) and other stuff that the country doesn't need, and more importantly, that they don't want, for no reason other than it suits playing county.

There are loads of county footballers employed by big Accountancy Practices and plenty of county players employed in the Banking sector.

I'd imagine these chaps get it very handy in comparison to their co-workers.

Syferus

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Re: Does the GAA's amateur status work against working class players?
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2017, 05:58:31 PM »
I don't think there ever was a time (in my lifetime anyway) when you could realistically expect to live the life of a junior doctor in a hospital for example, and for that to be compatible with playing intercounty games. There may have been exceptions, but in general there were always jobs that were fairly incompatible with the type of commitment required - the key thing however was that this didn't apply to the ordinary working man.
Last Doctor I can think of that played for Armagh was Colin Hanratty in the late 80s. I remember him citing work commitments in his early retirement  (tho he did have a bad leg break).

Great post btw.

Niall McInerney is a fifth year medical student. It’s not that rare, Jack Mc is a year ahead of him in UCD. Tough, but not impossible.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2017, 06:01:39 PM by Syferus »

bennydorano

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Re: Does the GAA's amateur status work against working class players?
« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2017, 06:17:08 PM »
But how sustainable will it be in the medium to longterm for them. They're still young & full of the bull, likely unmarried with no kids. Definitely one of the tougher Careers to maintain along with a top IC career.

Lone Shark

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Re: Does the GAA's amateur status work against working class players?
« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2017, 06:28:27 PM »
I don't think there ever was a time (in my lifetime anyway) when you could realistically expect to live the life of a junior doctor in a hospital for example, and for that to be compatible with playing intercounty games. There may have been exceptions, but in general there were always jobs that were fairly incompatible with the type of commitment required - the key thing however was that this didn't apply to the ordinary working man.
Last Doctor I can think of that played for Armagh was Colin Hanratty in the late 80s. I remember him citing work commitments in his early retirement  (tho he did have a bad leg break).

Great post btw.

Niall McInerney is a fifth year medical student. It’s not that rare, Jack Mc is a year ahead of him in UCD. Tough, but not impossible.

The key word there is medical student. Neither of them are doing 24 hour shifts at the Mater or UCHG. And as was pointed out, these are two young lads with no other life commitments.

Syferus

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Re: Does the GAA's amateur status work against working class players?
« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2017, 06:33:09 PM »
I don't think there ever was a time (in my lifetime anyway) when you could realistically expect to live the life of a junior doctor in a hospital for example, and for that to be compatible with playing intercounty games. There may have been exceptions, but in general there were always jobs that were fairly incompatible with the type of commitment required - the key thing however was that this didn't apply to the ordinary working man.
Last Doctor I can think of that played for Armagh was Colin Hanratty in the late 80s. I remember him citing work commitments in his early retirement  (tho he did have a bad leg break).

Great post btw.

Niall McInerney is a fifth year medical student. It’s not that rare, Jack Mc is a year ahead of him in UCD. Tough, but not impossible.

The key word there is medical student. Neither of them are doing 24 hour shifts at the Mater or UCHG. And as was pointed out, these are two young lads with no other life commitments.

Neither would have any intention of retiring from football in 8 or 20 months time I’m sure. Training to be a doctor is only marginally less time consuming than actually being one.

armaghniac

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Re: Does the GAA's amateur status work against working class players?
« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2017, 07:23:43 PM »
I don't think there ever was a time (in my lifetime anyway) when you could realistically expect to live the life of a junior doctor in a hospital for example, and for that to be compatible with playing intercounty games. There may have been exceptions, but in general there were always jobs that were fairly incompatible with the type of commitment required - the key thing however was that this didn't apply to the ordinary working man.
Last Doctor I can think of that played for Armagh was Colin Hanratty in the late 80s. I remember him citing work commitments in his early retirement  (tho he did have a bad leg break).

Great post btw.

Niall McInerney is a fifth year medical student. It’s not that rare, Jack Mc is a year ahead of him in UCD. Tough, but not impossible.

The key word there is medical student. Neither of them are doing 24 hour shifts at the Mater or UCHG. And as was pointed out, these are two young lads with no other life commitments.

Neither would have any intention of retiring from football in 8 or 20 months time I’m sure. Training to be a doctor is only marginally less time consuming than actually being one.

Armagh women do this sort of thing routinely
http://www.independent.ie/sport/gaelic-games/ladies-football/is-this-the-busiest-woman-in-irish-sport-armagh-dual-star-and-flying-doctor-caroline-ohanlon-31380116.html
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Captain Obvious

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Re: Does the GAA's amateur status work against working class players?
« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2017, 08:06:56 PM »
Is the age of the farmer in GAA dying out? the 80s,90s use to have loads of tough farmers on their county teams and every second advert on TV before a game was somewhat related to farming.