Today my son, daughter-in-law, and I watched the All-Ireland Hurling Championship final match between Kilkenny and Tipperary. It was an exciting game and raised some questions for me:
a. Why don’t we have exciting sports like this in the States? This game is non-stop. Except for a brief moment of about 5 minutes duration when the referee’s nose was injured by a player’s hurley, there was no let up during the first 35 minute half … an only a few brief slow-downs in the second half. We (the US) have sports riddle with timeouts and slow-downs, and our national sport (baseball) is about as slow as one can get with all kinds of dead-time. I much prefer the constant action of GAA football (peile) and hurling.
b. Why do we have to have over-paid, over-privileged professional athletes? The hurling and GAA football players are all amateurs. The only paid “position” on a county team (I was told by someone in the pub where we watched the game) is the bainisteoir (“manager”). Everyone else is a volunteer. And the Kilkenny bainisteoir elects to be unpaid! He does this, I was told, for the love of the game. And for these amateur players, the stadium (Croke Park) was PACKED!
c. Sportsmanship … I suppose there are poor sports in Ireland, but as well-fought as this game was (and it was!) at the end of the game there was much good sportsmanship in evidence – both from the losers (Tipperary) who congratulated their victorious opponents, and from the victors (Kilkenny) whose spokesman congratulated the Tipperary players and led a cheer for them. I seldom see that on American sports fields – what I see is disgruntlement and whining, or excessive jubilation and silly dances (like those end-zone hi-jinks when a touchdown is made).
OK … there I’ve said my piece about sports. As most people who know me know, I don’t follow sports. And as the above question should suggest, the reasons are that I find them boring, I object to the high price of sport in the US, and I find the players less that sportsman. I could follow hurling or GAA football, however.