This article is well worth a read. I’ve actually got no regard for certain awards shows/events for my own particular reasons, and I’ll share them one day. Marina Hyde hit the nail the head here.
There’s this strange thing that a lot of sports fans do, and I’ve seen it especially in football, where they get outraged when an athlete wants to leave the club that they support. It’s almost as if they’re surprised when they realise a player doesn’t love the club as much as they do or share the same reverence that they have.
For a lot of us, the club we ended up supporting is one we took on at childhood and became enchanted with. You’ll struggle to find somebody who doesn’t remember what led to supporting the club that they love or someone who doesn’t have fairy-tale story of how it came to be.
So many Monday mornings at school or in the workplace have been ruined by dismal performances the previous weekend. Our clubs are a big part of our lives. We spend outrageous amounts of money on replica jerseys to feel like we can belong, and hours spent on discussions on tactics and signings as if we’re secretly preparing for the day we could meet the coach and give him a little bit of advice. As much we love our clubs, however, the reality is that the players who wear the shirt, at times, are often more a part of the club than we are. They are on the inside, the majority of us can only dream of that kind of access.
Perhaps it’s because of this that players are expected to have the same emotional tie as a fan. It is, of course, quite silly that grownups think this way. The love a player has for a club will never match a supporters’ own love. There’s a childlike quality in that remains embedded in the minds of sports fans and it probably affects the way we see players as heroes and we end up idolising them long after they are gone. Clubs have culture and history, so often a child can be raised in the club, yet when it comes to footballers, we aren’t able to realise that he is a moment or a passing phase of the club. The club stood long before he was there and it will continue to stand long after they are gone.
It’s almost as if loving the club has become a prerequisite for signing for the club. I can’t possibly believe that even the most romantic of fans would hold fast to this notion in 2017. In the professional era, a football club is a place of work. It’s a place where somebody can offer his services for pay, improve his skills and further his career while he is there. Whatever the reason a person has for committing to play for a club, the only expectation we can have is that he will perform at his utmost best for the time that he is there.
Isn’t it senseless that during transfer/trade season, you’ll read about how a player loves the club he players and grew up supporting it and there’s no way they would leave but then in the space of a week when the player does end up leaving, he is called all kinds of unmentionable names by the very people who claimed to love him so much?
We don’t know our favourite athletes personally. Forget what they show you on Instagram or whatever; they don’t show you what really is going on in their lives or what they are going through. Comments like “I can’t believe he’s leaving for the money” or “I can’t believe he’s like that” would disappear very quickly when we understand this.
For some odd reason, we think of football being removed from the world we live in, as though the facets of life that affect every other industry don’t apply to it. Picture this: You come from nothing and have plenty of family members back home depending on you for food, shelter, clothes and whatever other basic necessity you could think of but the company you worked for couldn’t offer to pay you more money, even though you felt like you deserved it. Would you not leave if a company with a history of success, happy work environment and friendly colleagues comes looking for someone with your talents and comes calling you by name?
Loyalty is not for everyone and a person cannot be loyal to everything in his life. Perhaps it might be time for a lot of us to stop thinking of loyalty as a primary motivator for sportsmen and women in every career decision they make. You’ll save yourself a lot of heartbreak when you realise that loyalty is not the ultimate determinant in the thought process of someone who has to decide whether to stay at a club or leave for greener pastures.
This is a fascinating piece. I had no idea this side of the footballing world existed. Hope you enjoy it too.
I can’t remember if I’ve ever had any kind of emotional reaction to golf before. While I still think it’s a great sport and one I’d still like to take up one day, I cant help but feel appalled at the way the golfing fraternity treated one of its own and turned its back on arguably its greatest player.
When I was younger I didn’t appreciate Tiger Woods as much as I should have. Somewhere along the way, I was taught that his dominance was unfair or somehow bad for the game. I find it funny now that I’m grown that athletes who were just as dominant as Woods in other sports I grew up following, who were in their pomp at around the same time, were heralded for their victories; think Michael Schumacher, Lance Armstrong and Pete Sampras. When I think about it now, I can’t help but feel that although Woods was admired as a player, he was tolerated not accepted and dare I say, under-celebrated.
This past Monday, I woke up in the early hours to the news that Tiger Woods had been arrested for driving under the influence. My heart sank immediately as I was sure this was the end of him. I was certain this was the last nail they needed to bury him; I believed even after all the injuries and setbacks, we’d get to see Tiger at his best once again, however there would be no coming back after this. If there is one thing that makes me the saddest in sport, it’s the downfall of a once great athlete.
I remember saying “there’s more to this story that will be revealed in the coming days” during one of my bulletins while reporting on the story. I feared the worst, was afraid that more sordid details of Woods’ life would be revealed. I’ll admit I was sceptical when I read that his defence was that he had “an unexpected reaction to prescribed medication”. Throughout that morning, I saw Woods’ mug shot on various news sites as well as social media accompanied by some vile comments. His past indiscretions were dug up and his fall from grace discussed at length. The saying goes ‘A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes’. It wasn’t even a day later when the news broke that a breathalyser test showed he had zero alcohol on his breath.
At that point, I would have thought that would have been the end of the story. The news sites didn’t retreat, instead kept writing stories about how he was found asleep at the wheel of his car as if all the earlier stories were justified and then as if to humiliate him, posted a video where he couldn’t walk along a straight line. Social media users didn’t miss a beat either, I saw more than a few people who had claimed to be Tiger Woods fans, encouraging negative talk about him and one that disturbed me said “he still looks like a drug dealer in that police photo.’
I cannot help but look at the example of tennis where Maria Sharapova is still mollycoddled by the media as if she were a young girl who accidently ate too much candy floss and experienced a sugar high instead of being treated as someone who failed a drugs test and served a lengthy doping ban.
It bothers me that an innocent man who has done nothing but good for his sport is shunned for no good reason. It makes one wonder whether or not there is something sinister at play. Is it possible that Woods’ biggest selling point actually made many within the establishment uneasy and actually couldn’t wait for the day he passed his sell-by date so they could throw him on the trash heap? It bothers me that the fiercest, most dominant golfer of modern time is treated as a black stain on a glorious game while someone like Gary Player, who actively supported apartheid, is still viewed in high esteem.
To date, I am yet to read a retraction or an apology from anyone regarding Woods.
Tiger Woods deserved better.
Imagine for a moment there was a South African Super Rugby franchise that tried to fill up their stadium in a different way. Imagine this franchise thought ‘f**k it, we don’t make all that much from gate receipts anyways, let’s scrap them’ and let their fans watch the game for free. Imagine this franchise made meaningful provision to foster a bond with their community and actually nurture that bond and create a long lasting relationship. Imagine then what would happen then if that franchise was threatened with being axed from the competition?
For my mind, Super Rugby sides in South Africa struggle to draw crowds because they are alienated from their support base. Supporters aren’t given a sense of ownership in their team. Apart from the fanatical or borderline obsessive supporters and those with friends, family or significant others in the team, franchises, especially the smaller teams, aren’t involved enough in the regular lives of their support base. I’m not trying to suggest that the coaches and players need to know details of their fans lives but they aren’t present or visible enough in their surrounds. Your supporters need to feel like they are a part of something, that they are an extension of the team.
I’ve been around campus and mall activations presented by various Super Rugby teams and when I think about it now, whatever good comes from them, that good doesn’t endure past a selfie with someone famous or the momentary pleasure of receiving a free prize during one of the giveaways.
It is mind boggling that when the most successful Super Rugby franchise in history comes to town that two thirds of the stadium is empty. Or perhaps it isn’t. You need only look at attendance figures in the competition to have predicted that there wouldn’t be a full house. Clearly, the old saying ‘build it and they will come’ doesn’t work anymore.
Why not try something different then? For instance, what if you gave a tenth of the tickets (or more) for a particular game to schools around the city, especially to schools in the townships? How impactful would that be, providing access to a sport to youngsters who more than likely would not have had the means to watch? I imagine that such a scenario would not only look better on television and create a better atmosphere at the ground but also give the kids the match -day experience so many of us privileged enough to go as often as we want for granted. Most importantly, it provides the sport with exposure to a new audience.
I imagine, too, that a community with such an involved and generous club in their midst would respond in a much better way when their team is threatened with being axed from the competition. If the good relations between team and community had been established and maintained from the start, there’d be much less legwork to do when trying to rally the public to get behind them and show up for the game; and that support from the community would not be sudden or insincere.
It’s easy to talk when you’re on the side-lines and have nothing in the way of finances invested. I just wish we had the foresight to ask ‘what if?’ looking ahead at the possibilities instead of having to ask ‘what if?’ while looking behind at regrets.
In a sporting world, full of doping, politics and corruption, it’s quite easy to become a cynic and to lose some enthusiasm. It happens to me from time to time, and in these instances, I usually find redemption in schools sport, where more often than not, everything remains untainted.
Of the best damn things in sport is watching a young child being introduced to a new game or being taught the skills it takes to play the game. There is so much joy to be found in a child who has mastered a particular sport being taught there is more to a game and being given tools to thrive in a sport and to improve themselves. It makes me livid then, when schools’ coaches forget the focal point of what they do and become self-absorbed instead of working for the benefit of the kids.
Two of my best mates are the head and assistant coach of the Free State men’s hockey team. Between the two of them, they have had immense success on the field over the last two years, and any coach would gain from sitting and listening to them or watching them share their knowledge. It surprised me that this is not so. One of my mates won the u18 girls’ IPT with Boland last year and went through the whole season unbeaten with his u16 girls’ team and in a few weeks will be conducting a coaching clinic in Bethlehem in the Free State. From the responses so far, and the way in which funding was organised, it certainly seems everyone involved is quite keen on having one of the best coaches in the province visit their little town and coaching the kids.
This is not the situation with my other mate and the coaching camp he is organising in our hometown in the Eastern Cape over this coming weekend. If I was 16, 17 or 18 again and a top coach who has already produced 5 junior national players, amongst a bunch of other accolades, came to my hometown to conduct a clinic, I would have jumped at the chance to attend. It’s a great opportunity for any kid to gauge his own level and set new standards for himself and perhaps even dream bigger or set bigger goals with the new information he’ll assimilate. But when the first team coach at the school asks what the point of the clinic is and that he is not fussed whether he is involved or not, I can’t help but scratch my head. But for this blasted clinic, he would have had a free weekend. How can someone entrusted with equipping young men with skills and helping them improve as players and as people have such a nonchalant attitude towards his job?
It makes me realise why EC schools and their provincial teams struggle at big national tournaments against schools from WP, KZN, Gauteng and Free State.
In my honest opinion, school sport in the Eastern Cape is lagging behind. This is not only because there are richer or more prestigious schools outside of the province or that they offer outrageous bursaries but that opportunities like absorbing new skills, techniques and knowledge from elsewhere aren’t seized and I have seen this from a few coaches who are regarded highly there. The interests of the boys (in the cases I am aware of) aren’t prioritised. It seems at times to me, that the traditional schools are content with doing things the way they’ve always been done or focussing on one sport in particular over the others. Eastern Cape schools will continue to be competitive because the province is a gold mine for talent but it saddens me that the kids could be so much better or get better opportunities but their coaches are limiting the very people they’re supposed to be cultivating and nurturing.
Coaches need to understand that it’s not about them.