There is a much read article online called The Death Of Golf.
The main gist of it is how the numbers of people participating in the sport has dropped significantly. The main factors cited are the cost and time needed to take part. Some radical proposals have been made recently to change things up by shortening some courses to 12 holes and bringing some colour and music to the sport. The reason I bring this article up is it may not be that long before we see similar articles being posted about club football around Ireland, no doubt with the inimitable Joe Brolly leading the charge.
The saving graces of the club GAA scene are time and enjoyment. Last weekend a SFL division 1 derby between St Eunan’s and Glenswilly ended 0-3 to 0-2. That wasn’t the half time score, but the full time score.
There is no way players can say they enjoyed been a part of that quagmire of a game. Clearly suffocatingly defensive system were adopted by both teams which resulted in such a ridiculously low scoring affair. Surely we can’t be far from the point where supporters become disillusioned with the game? Pride, loyalty and passion will only keep people following for so long.
Every player in the field wants to enjoy the game they are involved in. Obviously a defender doesn’t want to concede many scores, but they also want to be involved in a team that is free flowing and win while having fun playing the sport the way they did when they were young, a way that made them fall in love with it.
The fun seeping from the game is a central issue, but unfortunately the problems don’t stop there.
Just like golf, the issue of time is becoming a serious issue. As the younger generation come through there are now more and more distractions in life and the younger generation also bring a new mind-set to things.
Their life is no longer solely about football. Whatever holiday, festival or concert is on these now take priority over club training or fixtures. I am far from saying this is wrong, just illustrating how things have changed in terms of priorities and commitment to the sport at club level.
This combination of entrenched systems crushing initiative, crazy training schedules and the altered perspectives of young players mean that, like golf, participation rates could soon be dropping.
Even now before the next generation come through clubs are finding it hard to keep some players. The migration of players to urban areas with better employment prospects means the commitment can’t be made.
This trend is not just happening at club level, as many counties teams are struggling to keep the squad together year in year out.
There’s no such things as work-life balance. There are work-life choices, and you make them and they have consequences. Years ago the consequences fell on the side of upsetting the girlfriend, family or concert going friends, but now the axe is falling on the side of the football.