Sport Ireland not keeping up appearances on inclusion

During the week Sport Ireland opened a national indoor sports arena. Or manrena, maybe.

Sport Ireland not keeping up appearances on inclusion

One photograph issued to accompany the opening featured 13 middle-aged men, and others were along the same lines.

It seems extraordinary that a woman couldn’t be unearthed somewhere for the photograph, and even more extraordinary that it didn’t occur to someone that even for appearances’ sake a baker’s dozen of well-filled suits didn’t convey a very inclusive image of sport.

Then again, it wasn’t a very good week for inclusion full stop.

Last weekend a Sunday columnist bemoaned the fashion for sportspeople to stand with their arms around each other as being for “underage girls’ football”.

Notwithstanding the notion that you shouldn’t write about other hacks because nothing turns people off like journalists writing about other journalists, this seemed a strange point to make. Not because it misses a point about the competitive urge in underage girls, which to this non-scientific observer seems as keen as that in underage boys.

Not because it shows the danger of reaching for the first metaphor which comes to mind when trying to maintain a tone of waspish asperity, a pothole your own columnist has fallen into.

The resonance of this comment is that it exposes a vein of thinking about women in sport, one that remains hidden for the most part but occasionally glistens in the sunlight.

So, at a time when children aren’t taking as much exercise as before and are getting heavier, their sports are ridiculed in print. At a time when women are being encouraged to take a fuller part in sport, the images suggest the opposite.

We can do better than that, surely?

Hekker’s lowdown on punting techniques

Given the Super Bowl is on the horizon, it might be apposite to mention I stumbled across a Player’s Tribune piece a few days ago about punting in American football. You know, how hard can it be?

According to Johnny Hekker of the Los Angeles Rams, quite hard.

Hekker was a quarterback who did a little punting, but his priorities were rearranged to make it in the professional game. I was struck by the minor changes he needed to make to his mechanics in order to succeed as a punter - to hold the ball at arm’s length when he caught it, rather than losing valuable time by instinctively grabbing it to his chest, to take quick, sharp strides before kicking, and the importance of generating power through the standing foot, not just the kicking foot.

Very interesting, all the way down to the impact on kicking power of your footwear. There might be more lessons than you’d imagine in American football for the versions of football we enjoy over here.

Paying a high price to toe line

Are you okay for U2 tickets? Sorted? How much did you pay? A few hundred euro and a hefty booking fee?

Well, I’m grand, thanks for asking. I saw them a couple of decades ago there and they were grand. No, no, they played some Joshua Tree songs there, so I could live without hearing those all over again.

But just regarding tickets . . . a friend thoughtfully forwarded a consultation document from the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation on ticket sales, and a couple of little gems caught my eye.

For instance, you’re probably aware that Dublin is to host three group stage matches and one round of 16 game in UEFA’s 2020 European Championships.

The consultation document states: “As part of the conditions agreed with UEFA for the staging of four matches in the EURO 2020 soccer championship, however, Ireland has given a commitment to introduce legislative provisions banning the unauthorised resale of tickets for these matches”.

Now this is interesting.

Does it mean that a commercial body from outside the jurisdiction is able to dictate the laws of the land to suit its affairs?

UEFA is not the only organisation flexing its legislative muscles, by the way.

The document goes on to add: “A similar commitment is to be given to World Rugby in connection with the bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.” Your columnist shares the excitement and anticipation of everybody who’s looking forward to see international sports coming to these shores, the influx of foreign visitors, the glamour and sense of enjoyment. All of that.

But . . . this is a tricky one. Granted, nobody wants to be squeezed by ticket touts: if you miss out on just one major sporting occasion you have your heart set on, then a blaze of hatred will be kindled in that same organ (your heart, I mean) for all those who exploit ticket prices for their own personal profit. On that basis any legislative action being taken against these profiteers is to be welcomed, surely?

Yes. And no. Those legislative initiatives should be undertaken by the people elected to do so, surely, and not done at the behest - and for the enrichment - of organisations seeking to maximise their profits from events held in the country.

This could be the first step on a slippery slope, after all. Oslo lost out recently enough on the Winter Olympics for 2022, but when some of the IOC demands leaked out, the Norwegians weren’t too upset. (Among those demands: the Norwegian King to pay for a cocktail party for the IOC at the opening ceremony; IOC members to be greeted with a smile at their hotels; meeting rooms to be kept at 68 degrees.) You have been warned.

Get to Boston College sports symposium

If you’re in Dublin Wednesday night you could do a lot worse than taking yourself along to Boston College for a symposium on Sport and State Policy being run by Sport History Ireland.

It’ll examine the relationship between sport and the state in Ireland, including “the historical context in which the state has formed public policy in respect of sport and sporting organisations . . . the current position of sport in the formation of public policy and possible future developments.” Among those who’ll be talking are Professor Mike Cronin, Minister for Sport Patrick O’Donovan, Dr Katie Liston and Dr Paul Rouse, whose columns are a must-read every week in this very newspaper.

Wednesday at 6pm: tell them I sent you.

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