Real Madrid won their 12th Champions League final recently, but what many remember from the match against Juventus was Sergio Ramos’s outrageous dive. Ramos’s theatrics deceived the referee and Juventus’ Juan Cuadrado was sent off. Real Madrid were leading 3-1 at this stage in the match and there was no need for such poor sportsmanship.
This shambolic behaviour got me thinking about the culture of diving and whether there is a danger it will creep into other sports, like the GAA.
The championship is well underway with the Cork footballers having already secured their place in the Munster final, albeit by the skin of their teeth! They will play Kerry on July 2nd. If a player in this match decides to purposely dive in order to get an opponent sent off, it’s a safe bet that there would be universal condemnation as the culture of diving is yet to infiltrate the GAA in a big way. There have been some isolated incidents of diving and misconduct. Aidan O’ Mahony’s behaviour in the 2008 All Ireland semi-final against Cork displayed his flair for theatrics, years before his Dancing With The Stars success. In general though the GAA can be proud of the level of sportsmanship and integrity displayed in matches.
Nowadays there constantly seems to be soccer on our television screens. We can watch league matches from all over the world here in Ireland. With that in mind, many young GAA players are exposed to the culture of diving in soccer and may be influenced to act like their favourite soccer stars. Especially when they see them getting away with it and benefiting from it massively on occasions.
In order to keep diving out of the game coaches need to clamp down on it at a grass roots level. From a young age players must have a belief system instilled in them, that it is wrong to dive and not in the spirit of the GAA.
For the most part the GAA seem to have done this very well so far. The GAA has been described as the most important socio-cultural movement in Ireland, and as our nation's spiritual core. It’s extremely proud and protective of its history and culture. The GAA has worked hard to retain its distinctly Irish culture and has done well not to be overly influenced by foreign games like soccer. It would take a brave player to walk in to a GAA dressing room wearing a flashy pair of boots that we so often see our favourite soccer players wearing.
The players themselves are passionate about the organisation, its place in the community, and it’s distinctive Irishness. They also bear the responsibility to keep diving out of the game. They should keep themselves and their teammates in check, so that every player knows there is no place for diving on a GAA pitch, and I'm sure they will.