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I am a 13-year-old boy and recently as I took my seat to watch a cup game, I couldn’t help but wonder if the game would pass without incident or would it be marred by scenes of violence and racial abuse.
As of late, sporting events, particularly GAA and soccer, have evolved from a passionate occasion to a spectacle filled with violence and hatred. Violence in Gaelic football does not only occur between players and staff, last year Martin Sludden (an official referee) was attacked by fans after he allowed a last-minute illegal goal which gave Meath the victory over Louth in the Leinster final. Abuse at an amateur level is one thing, but recent well-highlighted incidents of racial abuse in the English Premier League, involving both players and supporters begs other questions. The questions that now have to be asked are: What effects will these incidents have on both amateur and professional sport in the long term? Will they encourage children to act like their sporting heroes? Could this cause parents to discourage their children from participating in these team sports, if violence and abuse will be the consequence?
Will sponsorship in sport die as of these events? Only time will tell, but hopefully we will see a change in the near future.
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