I WAS shocked last week to read of a case of alleged racial abuse being directed towards GAA players following the Laois/Armagh NFL tie.
Various sports have experienced problems coping with such allegations, which generally tend to be directed at players. It appears to be a particularly contentious issue in English football with the captain of the national soccer side, John Terry, losing the captaincy for the upcoming European championship finals.
I was glad to see the Laois and Armagh County Boards clarify the earlier racism allegation. Racism does not exist in the GAA, but I accept there is a need for on-going vigilance.
What does happen (regrettably) on a regular basis is players abuse and taunt opponents. This is prevalent at both inter-county and club levels, but is more visible in the former.
For as long as Gaelic games have been played, players have teased and taunted their opponents, but I would not want to suggest that this is a regular occurrence in our games.
Players nowadays are well used to ‘getting a bit of lip’ from an opponent and this is often done to unsettle and frustrate players on the opposing side. The majority of players are well able to cope with this ‘carry-on’ and do not allow it to impact their focus on the game.
Step over line
Players do sometimes, though, step over the line with the scale and the nature of their taunting and this has sometimes led to players ‘taking the law into their own hands’ to seek retribution. In such circumstances the primary transgressor can escape any punishment.
While it was good to see the clarification of the racial abuse allegation, abuse does take place between opponents.
The scale of such abuse may not be a problem for the GAA, but our games could do without the ‘hard men’ who deem it necessary to outwit their opponents with such unsavoury behaviour.