Between the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games was a good time to be in the United Kingdom. As the nation which, like most of Europe had been battered by the financial crisis suddenly had some pride restored, not only by the performance of their athletes, nor the fact that they hosted a superb games, but more in the manner in which their victorious athletes conducted themselves.
Suddenly eyes turned to the national game and the lessons that Football could learn from the Olympic athletes. Football did not see the broadsides from so many quarters coming, but it surely must have expected some turbulent waters? Then again maybe not.
Just as with ‘the sport we don’t mention’ in Australia, football in England has aroused jealousy, and dislike for the way it conducts its business. For too long many have felt football has been arrogant, pushing other sports around, and stealing the limelight in the media.
Yet as is the case with everything in life not everyone or everything is bad, there is good there if you are prepared to look. Many clubs do great work in the community, while a large number of players anonymously raise funds for charities and worthwhile causes.
Yet there can be no doubt that some of the younger players can be spoiled brats, with the amount of zeros on their contracts going to their heads, while others remain grounded. Even Swindon Town Manager Paolo di Canio came out and stated as much and how Football must learn from the Olympic Games.
Sport is highly competitive, and there is a fine line between self-confidence and arrogance; Yet humility is a stand alone quality and it would appear that this is where the impact was made.
The Olympic athletes are not all saints, but those who were victorious were also in the main humble. Olympic athletes have been tarnished by those who use performance enhancing drugs, but one of the differences again is how cheats are treated. The Olympics in most cases showcase a respect for authority, judges, referees and the like. Something that appears to be on the wane in Britain’s national game. Genuine respect for your opponents was also on display, and at the games in most cases the handshakes at the end of an event were heartfelt. There were very few token handshakes prior events.
Maybe the public feeling was encapsulated when Sepp Blatter the President of FIFA was announced as the man to present the medals after the womne’ns football gold medal game and the whole stadium booed. Most organisations reflect their leader and when the games governing body is frequently involved in questionable actions is it therefore any surprise that players no longer respect referees, that cheating such as diving has not been eliminated from the game?
The Olympics were great and one of the reasons they are so good is that they only come around every four years. Most of the sports at the games would sadly struggle for media coverage outside of the Olympic month, and that is why their athletes often present so well, as they are finally glad to be seen and heard. Football is played almost every week of the year, every year and therefore it is bound to demand more coverage and throw up more unpleasant behaviour and people. Yes, lessons can be learned ultimately leadership is the key, Lord Coe set an exemplary example, Mr Blatter does not.