It is the way of the world today, that we pay more than a product is worth without complaining. In many of the places we visit the service is nothing short of dreadful, but rather than say anything about it, we simply no longer leave a tip.
It has long been said that money is the root of all evil, but is it just money. As many sports fans will state if someone is prepared to pay a player a certain amount of money for him to play for them, you can’t blame the player.
However what the club or sporting organisation can do is stipulate certain standards and expectations to be met in order for that money to be received.
It is a very sad state of affairs when you have professional clubs signing contracts with players where the player in question only has to do a very limited number of public appearances. Does that mean that once said player has played ‘x’ amount of games he has fulfilled his public appearance quota? There is another team playing in a national competition where all of the players collectively only have to make a predetermined number of media appearances and so many public appearances. This was part of their collective bargaining agreement. This beggars belief, and it is no surprise that the team’s profile is extremely low and many children would not even be able to name more than a handful of players.It would be interesting to know what the players sponsors felt about this agreement.
Being a professional athlete is a job of that there is no doubt, but it is also a privilege, and with it comes responsibilities, and many of those are to do with ensuring the future of the game and the team you play for.
We can take this a step further to sport at the semi professional level. Frequently in one particular sport players will tell you that they are good enough to take the step up to being a full time professional. On ability many of them are. On attitude many are not.
Those who listen t the show regularly will recall when we had Ian Thacker on as guest. Ian is the head of the Ace Cricket academy at the University of Western Australia, and has been running the academy for the past ten years. When asked what was the biggest change he had seen in that time, without pausing he said it was the level of fitness in the young players. The same is true in so many sports, the levels of fitness do not match the talent; few willing to put in extra sessions in their own time away from their club’s two sessions a week.
Just as there is a responsibility being a full time athlete so too are there expectations being a first team player in a semi-professional team. In Europe you would never find a player on a semi professional contract taking a holiday during the season. Once you sign that contract you have committed yourself to that club for the next six to eight months, to be at training on every possible occasion, and when not able to attend work in your own time. You have also made a commitment to be available for selection, barring injury, every week of the season.
If players no longer live up to these expectations, is it any wonder that those who pay to watch them bemoan the standards? Is it the players fault? Won’t a player always push to see what he can get away with? Why have clubs allowed the standards that served them so well for so many years to drop? Are the professional outfits the ones setting the guidelines and as they let their players get away with more so it filters down the chain?
The answers are not simple, but the issues need to be addressed. There is a feeling that the wheel of acceptance from fans is slowly beginning to turn. If that is indeed the case then it surely must benefit all involved in sport. Club performances will improve and players will in fact be more prepared to make that next step up to a higher level. In the end only time will tell if this is the case.