12/23/2005

Sorry Donal but I can't agree.

Leading intercounty hurler, Donal Og Cusack has made a very controversial call for the GAA to abandon its amateur status. As chairman of the GPA, its clear now that the official GPA position will now be to argue for "pay for play", something which they have always said they were not in favour of.

Any move towards semi-professional status will amount to a bastardisation of our sport and should be opposed in the strongest terms possible. Professionalism simply isn't an option for the GAA, the money just isn't there. Yes, we have a thriving association at present but that association has been built for 121 years on the foundation of volunteerism at club level. Fundementally the GAA is, was and always will be about the club, about the fellas who give their hearts blood for their village and who don't get any fancy boot deals, media exposure or women hanging off them every time they go into a nightclub. They do it for the love of their sport. In a semi-professional game, the clubs would be the first to suffer. Look at what has happened in rugby since professionalism. Yes, the international and provincial game is thriving but the clubs are treated as a poor distant relation having to feed from scraps. The GAA can never allow a similar situation to happen.

I'm all for players who play for their counties and give up huge amounts of time and energy getting the best facilities possible and county board must make sure these players are treated correctly, given porper facilities, fed properly before and after games and given adequete compensation if they miss work due to injury, but to go down the professional would be a betrayal of all that the GAA stands for. the GPA have to understand that GAA don't go to watch individuals, they go to watch the team, the county. I'd support my county just as much if it was drawn from a pick of junior footballers. Under a professional setup, money not pride would become the be-all and end-all. Players would play for the team that offers them the most money, not the place where they were born. If that were to happen, it would be a sad day for the GAA and indeed for Ireland in general. The GAA is the most successful sporting organisation on this island and it got to where it is today on the basis that every member of the association is equal and every player, manager, administrator and coach contributes what they can for the love of the game. When the GAA loses that, then we lose everything that makes the association great.

Sorry if this developed into a bit of a rant but its a issue I feel very strongly about.

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