Does football have the same ethics as the Olympics? No. Should it? Not really.
By Daniel Barr
We all got caught up in the excitement and furore of the London 2012 Olympic Games, and for good reason. It was excellent. But as a football fan, I’m fed up of hearing that footballers and football fans need to adopt the same morals and lifestyle of Olympic athletes. It just won’t happen, and shouldn’t.
Let’s take a look at why this shout has suddenly come up. The Olympics had people cheering for one another, being proud of the athletes, irrespective of nationality, no matter what the outcome. Is this a realistic vision of how countries rum from day to day though? Probably not!
In terms of sport, I think it’s fair to say that football has held the title for popularity for a long time. It’s been through its fair share of criticism and for good reason. The modern game of football sees some overpaid, over dramatic, spoiled stars that care more about their next pay packet than winning for their club or country.
We need to realise that the Olympics is a sporting event that comes about every four years. Football is played every week. The Olympics was last in England in 1948. The last football game played was probably a few days ago. The prospect of a football fan being cheerful almost every day of the year is unthinkable. It’s frankly a little bit frightening.
Football is a tribal sport where fans are likely to be upset if their team loses. The heavier the loss, the worse the mood. It’s the way of the world. For the Olympics, we’re cheering for a nation. There was a sense of naivety about how well our athletes could and would do in their events. We hoped for the best and felt the need to tell others about how well we did.
We probably don’t encounter as many Americans or Chinese as we do Manchester United fans for example. In the case of the Olympics, we were all on the same team. A fortnight where Manchester United and Liverpool fans would unite, Arsenal and Tottenham fans would come together, all to be proud of our athletes. Take the Olympics away; I can’t see it continuing for long.
Now, for the athletes themselves, it’s claimed that footballers are paid too much for what they do. I agree. But what can you do? Football brings in billions of pounds and each club, millions. They’ve got to distribute this to their staff. The players are the ones attracting the fans and the money, so they get a large proportion. That’s that. Moving on.
Olympic athletes will get paid sparingly compared to football stars. Take away the faces and big names such as Usain Bolt, Jessica Ennis, and Mo Farah, the elite athletes here will find most of their money from getting a medal. This therefore enhances their drive to win, to follow Olympic attitude of hard work and determination, and to earn high praise.
For a footballer, they are getting paid a salary per week, and although they will get bonuses for winning the title, or a cup, they will get paid these high earnings none the less. These footballers have to entertain the nation week in, week out, and as long as they can do this, they will be loved by their fans.
To suggest that these players don’t follow the same principles as Olympians is unjust. Some may choose to simulate under a strong tackle or deceive the referee in order to win a penalty or foul, but this is still in order to win for their team. Like it or not, people have different values and ideals, but you cannot deny a passion to win in each player on that pitch.
Sport is becoming more and more an entertainment business. As long as these performers, whether it is for the Olympics or Premiership football, are striving to win. It’s unrealistic for football to become ‘more like the Olympics’. Football is a different breed to the Olympics, a different animal. While both enjoying tradition, football embraces more change and in doing so, commands a different type of respect.