We’ve all heard it, the ‘footballers could really learn a thing or two from this heroic Olympic gymnast or this brave rugby player’. The stereotype of the lazy, greedy footballer has been exhausted and it should be acknowledged that there are a lot of good, honest people in the game. Of course that’s not to say that there are not problems within the game but the way in which people have compared it to other sports as if they everyone involved in that sport are some sort of shining light of humanity has becoming a tiresome and frustrating trend. The Rio Olympics gave all those who felt footballers needed to get their act together ample opportunity to praise the Saintly athletes for their bravery and heroism. All they needed was a pole vaulter to save an old lady from a burning house so they could say ‘a footballer would have let her die’.
Lets face it, in all likelihood, Derek, the season ticket holder at Blackburn Rovers, wasn’t exactly an avid water polo fan since he was a boy and this habit people have of suddenly becoming fans of other sports every four years before returning to being excited for the league to return again is as hypocritical as it gets. I’m not trying to belittle the performances of Olympic athletes, it was great seeing the O’Donovan brothers get the silver and who couldn’t be impressed by the runner who helped one of her opponents in the marathon? However, they should be judged on their own merit alone, rather than the patronizing ‘ well done for not being a scumbag like a footballer’ that has been rolled out countless times.
Swimmer Ryan Lochte fabricating a quite disgusting lie about Brazilian police, Russian athletes being banned for drug use and our very own Pat Hickey and the ticket scandal show that athletics is far from being the utopia its made out to be. Of course, these incidents should not take away for the many hard working and honest athletes, but Diego Costa diving or John Terry cheating with his teammates wife should not be used as a symbol of what a modern day footballer is really like either.
While, often the bad behavior of footballers grabs the headlines, we often forget the many good things they have dome. A picture of Jack Wilshere smoking tends to garner more attention than an article about Didier Drogba building a hospital in his home village. Some footballers do a huge amount of charitable work that often goes unrecognized and while I’m not saying that footballers, like people in any profession do bad things, too often we concentrate on the negatives and forget that in actual fact, most of them are decent human beings.
Cristiano Ronaldo may be seen by many as a petulant child, but the millions he has donated to charity suggests otherwise. Yes he can afford to, but he doesn’t have to. The time teams take out to visit sick children in hospital, which is now somewhat of a tradition in England should be commended more. An hour or two may not exactly be a huge sacrifice for a footballer but for many a young patient, itis some thing they will always cherish. No, football is by no means perfect and I’m not condoning all of their actions, but theses actions of a minority should not cloud over the actions of the majority and the often quite sickening comparison with athletes of other sports has to stop.