Michael Moynihan: The 'new normal' - new circumstances, new jobs

Michael Moynihan: The 'new normal' - new circumstances, new jobs
David Keogh of Thomas Davis receives treatment from team physio Carl O'Toole ahead of the Dublin County Senior Hurling Championship Group 4 Round 1 match between Cuala and Thomas Davis at Bray Emmets GAA club in Bray, Wicklow. Picture: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

New circumstances, new jobs Some years ago a chat with Barry O’Connor, President of Cork Institute of Technology, led to a simple question - how are college courses tailored for the careers of the future?

He explained that CIT, like other colleges, has a team working out areas where demand for jobs will be high - but also trying to identify the areas where new jobs will be created.

By new jobs we were thinking of hi-tech innovations which would require skills not yet imagined. Sports is an obvious growth area in this regard with the huge significance now attached to data and statistics, for instance.

Clearly the current environment brings a new challenge every day, and a new job to tackle that challenge; that wasn’t what we had in mind, but that’s the reality we all face.

Some of the new jobs on the horizon are not wholly new - take the enforcement of social distancing at sports events. Ensuring there’s a 2-metre gap between spectators isn’t going to be one person’s sole task, but rather an additional task which is likely to be added to the agenda for stewards and security people at those venues.

What we hadn’t considered are the entirely new jobs - like hurling facemask visor manufacturer.

Last week Derek Sheehan and Fergus Twohig of Valley Rovers in Cork launched the hurl safe visor, which aims to limit the spread of coronavirus through GAA activity.

“When the hurl safe visor is worn by both player and opponent,” Sheehan explained to this newspaper. “It reduces the spread of droplets if a player has or is a carrier of Covid-19.

“The visor is shatterproof, has anti-fog properties, and is easily inserted and secured to the inside of the hurling helmet faceguard.” Fancy a job doing something more broadcast-operated?

Someone has to match sports actions on a channel like Sky Sports with crowd reaction, after all, so GQ magazine reported recently on Adam Peri, who sits in a “tiny, windowless studio in Osterley, West London” as Premier League games are going on hundreds of miles away.

During one of those games “. . . at a desk with three monitors and several Midi soundboards – a device with volume controls and buttons that are typically used to helm digital musical instruments – Peri had a split second to react. He turned up a dial marked “whistles” (scribbled in black biro on white stick-on labels) and tinkered with buttons on a touchpad labelled “ohhh” . . .” Admit it - this is a job you reckon you could do better than Adam Peri, though the reality may be more challenging.

Still wondering? How about professional sport snitch hotline operator?

The NBA is operating a ‘bubble’ environment over in Florida to keep players healthy in order to play out the league’s remaining games, but the players must adhere to strict safety protocols.

Los Angeles Lakers centre Dwight Howard last week revealed on Instagram that he was one of the players who were reported to an anonymous tip line, one created for players within the Orlando bubble to inform the league of anybody violating safety protocols - such as not wearing a mask, Howard’s sin.

“Somebody told on me,” Howard said on Instagram, and the New York Post reported that the NBA’s tip line had “reportedly started ringing off the hook in recent days, with several players already receiving warnings. Kings forward Richaun Holmes left the bubble to pick up a food delivery and Heat star Jimmy Butler had security called on him for dribbling a basketball in his room.” If you’d like to be the one answering the phone with “This is 1-800-SNITCH-NOW, what is your tip?” then this may be the job for you.

Don’t worry that it’s based in Florida. Its equivalent will be here soon enough.

Can leagues and championships be finished?

As the reopening/restart/reawakening gathers pace - can we settle on a description of this phase? I’m happy with revivification if everyone’s cool on that - unanticipated complications keep popping up.

For instance, I see there was an issue over the weekend in Mayo GAA regarding clubs. Balla were due to play Louisburgh on Saturday but, according to an exchange on social media, a doctor advised Louisburgh not to play the game.

Louisburgh contacted Balla on Friday and offered to play behind closed doors. 

Balla then stated online: “A number of calls between the clubs took place this morning. Balla officers, management and players discussed this. The Balla team is unwilling to travel this evening on the basis of the concerns raised by Louisburgh.” 

There’s no arguing with any of this, really. If the facts are reflected accurately Louisburgh seem to have done the right thing and Balla seem to have done the right thing. The decision was announced calmly. No hysteria.

The issue it raises is a simple one, but one which will probably be reflected all over Ireland in every sport you can think of.

No matter what the official line or organisational encouragement, if people don’t feel comfortable or completely safe, they can’t be compelled to participate in a pastime.

You can almost hear tonsils being warmed up all over Ireland as a chorus of amateur epidemiologists get ready to weigh in on unnecessary nervousness, but waw-mouths will always be with us.

The solution isn’t obvious to this columnist, but the ramifications should be clear to everyone.

If people don’t feel safe enough to play in sports, how are leagues and championships going to be fulfilled in any meaningful way?

Tickets for members: The headache

The announcement that crowds at sports events would be reduced from 500 to 200 has had a lot of GAA officials scratching their heads when it comes to upcoming games.

No wonder: take out teams, subs, mentors, support staff, stewards, security, referees and umpires - even members of the media - and you’re left with very little change out of 200.

And what change there is has to be divided between two clubs, don’t forget.

Those clubs aren’t alone. County cricket returns soon across the water, and Surrey’s Oval ground is to be the first venue since the March lockdown to admit spectators when they host Middlesex at the end of the month.

Surrey chief executive Richard Gould says crowd restrictions could mean a ballot: “The focus will be on a modest number and members will be our first port of call, but we hope to have general admission too – and demand will be high after such a long wait – so there may have to be a ballot or similar.” 

When finished with the barrel for the tickets he might send it across on a ferry.

Beatles reading, or not

The Beatles remain a big draw in our house, which meant a new(ish) book by Craig Brown caught my eye.

The field of Beatles studies is a fairly crowded one, but a friend recommended One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time because a) Brown takes a different approach and b) he’s popped up in our house before.

One on One was an ingenious book detailing a daisy chain of celebrity encounters: painter Walter Sickert slams the door on a teenage Ted Heath, who as Prime Minister, much later, gets (dubious) political advice from Terence Stamp, who in turn . ..

Maybe I’ll just root that one out again instead.

* Contact: michael.moynihan@examiner.ie

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