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Irish Sporting Success and the Dark Side of Irishness

May 26, 2009

After an extraordinary weekend of rugby success from which I’m still recovering, here’s an outstanding comment piece from Tom Humphries in the Irish Times. He takes us back to the sporting success of the 80’s in the face hunger strikes, Ann Lovett and the Kerry babies and the ever-present recession. We had Roche and Tour de France and Giro, Sean Kelly and everything else in cycling, Jacko and football success, Barry McGuigan and so on.

If anything, the horrors of today are even worse and yet we prove to be the Master Race of European rugby, Padraig has three majors and we have stadiums as good as anything on the telly.

Humphries ends,

Have we the resilience now to stomach a sporting recession? As we slash and burn to try to erase the economic howlers of the past few years, sport will feel the pain. The grass roots – not exactly fed and watered with care at the best of the times by successive administrations – will be first hit. And that will percolate through to the elite levels.

We lost our innocence somewhere along the way to our imaginary wealth and by the time we experience such a sustained period of sporting glory again we may well have regained it.

Meanwhile, all our guff about being a nation of sports-lovers will be put to the test. Does this nation of sports lovers have the belly to get out and fill the gaps volunteer by volunteer, mentor by mentor, committee member by committee member?

Do we love sport enough to make it a therapy, an escape, an education, a foundation of community, a way of genuinely getting in contact with each other again? Can we find that old exuberance and innocence?

For the sins we let be committed to previous generations of children, that’s the least we owe the children of tomorrow.

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From → Current Affairs

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