Joe Canning, James McClean, Conor Murray, Katie Taylor, Jason Smyth, Michael McKillop, Katie George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal.… Sorry, who are the last 4? They make up 30% of the nominees for the Irish sportsperson of the year 2017.
They are para-athletes. Which raises the question, in my mind at least, do they deserve inclusion with Olympic gold medalists, All Ireland winning hurlers and elite rugby players? These are awards for excellence, and I wish to take nothing away from their individual achievements but you simply cannot put them in the same category. There is quite literally no comparison. And no comparison should be drawn. Up until relatively recently, this would be obvious to all concerned. So what is with this rise in sentimentality? and does it distort some very basic home truths about life? Or am I out of step our new kinder inclusive nicer society.
Of course, I am not, I choose to call bullshit, In my view, the rush not to offend or exclude is diluting the very fabric and principal of achievement. But this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to our caring new society. The labor party in Ireland has long since absconded its duties to the average workers of this state, and instead pushed hard for easy wins like gay marriage, meanwhile supporting the privatization of our water supply. The virtue signaling extravaganza that followed the gay marriage referendum result was embarrassing, with politicians lining up for a photo in front of the rainbow flag. I voted yes, if the gays want to be miserable as well, then let them, they won’t follow the rules of marriage, they will both be off “Golfing with the lads” in no time, gimme a break. The key point here was this was an easy win, a quick policy change that will make everyone feel warm and fuzzy inside. Well done chaps! But here’s the thing, the vast majority of people in Ireland are not gay, and don’t rightly give a fuck if gays get married or not, and that was shown to be the case.
What we do care about is areas of this society where compassion is badly needed, and when I say compassion, I mean fairness. JFK famously said “Life is unfair” when being asked about issues surrounding the Vietnam war. And it’s true, life is not fair, decent people have to make it fair, as fair as it can be, with good governance, they must provide guidance, through laws and rights that speak and protect a healthy society, that is the basic idea anyway.
In America some have moved so far away from this ethos that they resent any form of income tax, they are, however, late to the party, the billion-dollar corporations dislike paying tax even more and move mountains to avoid paying any at all! The Irish government, needs the jobs, for sure, but if SME’s Ireland’s largest employers behaved like Google and Intel regarding tax they would be jailed. Sentimentality and fairness seem to extend to easy wins like gay rights and the para Olympics but not to the greater malaise, that has so far caused mindless revolt with Trump and Brexit.
Social justice the buzz word of the now, in the past, meant people marching for fair working conditions, housing, healthcare, the right to vote, maternity leave,.. the good stuff. Now with social media social justice seems obsessed the causes of minorities while doing little to affect change on the real issues affecting society.
The root causes of a rejection of the status quo in both Europe and the USA are casino capitalism and globalism. Our government and many others, seem uninterested in stopping its resurgence despite it being the cause for the horrific crash of 08. And we all remember how fairly the mess was dealt with.
But the voters are again distracted by feel-good nonsense, and the nice society rhetoric. And it is not just in this country, in the UK we have seen this over the top sentimentality increase in the past 20 years, with an almost fascist adherence to all things poppy in November, to minutes silence in half the matches in the season. People argue over rights of transsexuals to be gender neutral and you go, girl! support for Kaylyn Jenner. Meanwhile, disasters like Grenville tower exposes where the real need for social justice lies.
The reality is those with the power of this new caring world are just as uncaring as they have always been. But now in our new caring society, we are distracted with issues like gay rights, women’s football, and anti-racism campaigns. The politicians are just as trapped as we are in this system that has gradually disempowered most of its members. Trade unions now seem like a quaint idea for people in the private sector and now the working classes are treated to soul-destroying prospects in the form of Amazon’s work-houses, the gig-economy and zero hours contracts. And if you do want to get out of this rut via education they’ve just hiked the prices of that up as well.
The ongoing window dressing is wearing thin, what really counts in a society, is a level playing field to achieve and raise a family. The western governments move in the 90s to get women out to work has all but reduced most western families to half what they were a generation ago. The Irish government basks in the glow of their soundness with the gay marriage referendum, mean-while, these policies attack the very fabric of society, marriage, and peoples ability to bring up children. There is a recovery especially in Dublin, but wage stagnation is an issue despite increased costs of living especially rent. What is required is actual government policy to put some sort of fairness back into a market hugely slanted in favor of the landlord, so far they have tinkered on the edges, and this is not by accident.
For anyone who wants to see where this road leads just look at America, it leads to working poor, and the decimation of the middle class. People so demoralized they vote for a con-man. Pissed off Irish people with huge rents, high costs of living and low wages are tired of this bullshit. Yes its a not Africa, but we worked hard for generations to make it this way. Gerry Adams and his band of spoofers will be getting lots of new seats, and Fine Gael will only have themselves to blame. This is where virtue should come to the fore, but instead, we see it with easy sentimentality, in this case with the Sportsperson of the Year awards.
And I am sure it is not lost on para Olympians either, considering they are not mentally disabled. When their names are called out during the awards, and cheers rain down from people who have never heard of them, I suspect they may feel how patronizing this really is. How hollow, how phony. I am sure most people are proud of anyone who competes for their country, but to compare these people to the best we have is insulting. By doing this, you are treating them like special children.
We all know they don’t have any chance of winning, why? Because they are not elite athletes. Some have disabilities so bad, that there can’t be more than 10 people in the world in their event who take it seriously. Most para-sports are broken down into a huge number of subdivisions, due to the massive difference in disabilities and abilities of the athletes. So nominees aren’t even the best at their sport, they are 1 of maybe 20 para champions in that event. Is this a harsh observation?, no, life is not fair, some people have it worse than others. It is a shame that they can’t compete on a level playing field with our top athletes, but that is a mixture of bad luck and bad genetics.
I am in the same boat as they are. I would love to be a professional footballer, but I lost out in the genetic lottery. I don’t expect sympathy for this and I play on my own para soccer team. It is called the over 35s division 7, which is about all I am capable of.
This wave of bullshit began in 2012, when the British were hosting the Olympics and Paralympics. They went overboard with their coverage. BBC was chief culprits. Front page news every day in their sports section. RTE followed suit. And they felt the need to continue ever since. Now we are getting articles about a wheelchair tennis player ahead of stories about Roger Federer. How many people are reading these stories? 100s? Maybe his family and friends.
Let’s stop patting our selves on the back for our more enlightened society when the truth is we have many better issues we need to be nicer about, how about support for working families, protection for renters, not to mention carers of disabled people. Cut the bullshit and put your virtue into things that really make a difference to the majority of ordinary people. Fair enough?