Friday, August 2, 2013

The Game Done Change

Like Champions League soccer, I watch Gaelic Football on RTE as much for the analysis as for the game itself. Pat Spillane plays the part of John Giles, yearning for the traditional brand of football of yesteryear, when "the game was played as its meant to be played". Colm O'Rourke is the measured voice a la Liam Brady, straddling the old and the new, while Joe Brolly is the controversial, pantomime villain, though considerably less romantic and considerably more sober than his soccer equivalent Eamonn Dunphy.

Indeed, perhaps it is unfair on Brolly to equate him with Dunphy, or at least the Dunphy of those Irish Daily Star articles, which surely gave rise to the expression "phoning it in". (Dunphy on air is actually one of the most articulate if not accurate analysts in the history of the discipline as I've known it.) For example, in a recent article for Gaelic Life, Brolly writes an excellent piece on the scientization [?] of sport, even an amateur sport like Gaelic Football. Sam Allardyce probably takes credit for this scientific turn in modern sport, but whatever the source, it has caught fire in Ireland, and as Brolly says, "there can be no return."

Perhaps like science and religion, science and sport share no inherent conflict, and their merger should not be feared. Nevertheless, the merger means that inevitably some players become surplus to requirements as they no longer fit into the new paradigm. They may be naturals, artists, but as Brolly concludes, "In modern sport, there is no longer a place for men like this. The math simply doesn’t add up."

1 comment:

  1. Brolly is a definitely a panto villain in my home County of Tyrone after the weekend. I don't really watch GAA but that rant was good TV. It reminded me of what people say about Mourinho teams. A little cynical or something.
    I was also reading your blog about the meeting in Galway,paying €500 to talk about philosophy and playing poker. Let us know if you hold that next year, I could be interested