The GAA coverage row has sparked serious debate throughout the game this week, with thousands of the opinion that Sky Sports coverage of the championship has turned things sour for the everyday supporter.
The row has been brewing since Sky first began broadcasting GAA, but the anti-subscription mob have come out in force in recent weeks, with RTE swamped in complaints after its rival screened the Super 8s clash of Mayo and Donegal.
The likes of Tomas O’Se have come lashing out, stating how the organisation is a community-based amateur sport, canvassing how all games should be free to air and that the GAA should not be selling rights to companies with international pedigree.
The reality of the situation is quite simple. Mickey Harte has really hit the nail on the head, no one has a God-forsaken right to see a GAA game, despite what they might believe. The row is just another example of the sense of entitlement that often encourages people from getting involved with the organisation, at local and national level.
RTE’s coverage of the championship has been poor at best. The Derek McGrath and Donal Og Cusack fiasco on the Sunday Game shows that in abundance. The analysis is repetitive, outdated and to a large extent, irrelevant. Sky have added a new dimension to coverage of Gaelic games, with in-depth punditry and graphics which previously did not exist to analyse the game in more depth and make tactics more understandable to viewers.
The GAA are not going to stop selling rights to Sky because Joe Soap can’t afford a package. The GAA have shown in the past that they are moral-less when it comes to revenue, with concerts at Croke Park and their treatment of the Liam Miller Charity soccer match serving as a prime example. If the GAA considers itself so elite, as do the supporters and all those involved, then it must be open to expansion, and Sky expands the market of our national sport out to international level, expanding interest and thus for the GAA, raking in more funding.
This funding can be reallocated at all levels right down to grassroots, and is for the good of and the future of the game, but once again small mindedness has blindsided the Irish public, if they can’t see a game they don’t care why, it’s something that’s taken personally.
As said by Harte, it was never the case back in the day and everyone survived. The best way to see a GAA game is to go out and watch it. People need to stop feeling so entitled when it comes to GAA, they seem to not realise how much it discourages people on the outskirts of the GAA community from getting involved, as they feel a sense of intimidation given that they haven’t been born and bred into it.
No one has a God forsaken right to anything, watching GAA is no different. Whether you’re a Shefflin, a Canning or a Cooper or whoever. The GAA is concerned with making money first, the fans come second. It might not be right, but nothing is going to give. Many people lambasting Sky have never even given its coverage a chance, and if they did, they wouldn’t be so quick to speak.
GAA is a community game, it’s not about individuals. Individual cases exist which aren’t highlighted, but for the collective good of Gaelic games going forward, things are quite fine as they are.