School of sport: IT’S A DISGRACE

In the one article it was reported that the Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta had been fined for his public outburst following his team’s loss to Newcastle

IN 1982 the pop group ‘Tears for Fears’ reached Number 3 on the UK charts with a song entitled ‘Mad World’. Its lyrics included the lines: “All around me are familiar faces, Worn out places, worn out faces, bright and early for their daily races, going nowhere, going nowhere.

Their tears are filling up their glasses, No expression, no expression; Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow, … I find it hard to tell you 'cause I find it hard to take When people run in circles it's a very, very Mad world, Mad world, Mad world, Mad world”.

Then in 1985 they bettered that performance by reaching Number 2 in the charts with their song called ‘Everybody wants to rule the world’, part of the song says: “I can’t stand this indecision married with a lack of vision; everybody wants to rule the world… One headline, why believe it? Everybody wants to rule the world.”

Parts of both these songs came to mind in the light of three reports on the same day on one sporting website which all had a common theme. In the one article it was reported that the Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta had been fined for his public outburst following his team’s loss to Newcastle when he claimed that "We didn't deserve to lose the match. We lose the match because of the clear and obvious decisions. It's embarrassing. A disgrace. That's what it is — a disgrace.”

The report went on to record that the club supported Arteta's comments, saying the refereeing was "unacceptable", adding that players, coaches and supporters all "deserve better", while the Spaniard later added that it was his "duty" to defend the club. Interestingly, his opponent’s boss Eddie Howe felt differently.

Then there was a report of the Georgia vs Scotland match after which one of the Scottish players, Scott McTominay described the actions of their opponents as “a disgrace” on the grounds that “rolling round crying like babies is not football” pretending to be injured to “provoke” the referee.

And then we had a report on the news conference announcing the upcoming fight between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk, during which Fury, in a “a tirade of abuse”, was reported to have called his opponent "Sausage, ugly little man, rabbit," while observing that, in a previous fight, Usyk “got hit in the body and he didn't want to get up for five minutes. Crying to the referee. That's what he did."

What each report has in common is this strong claim of “disgrace” and “crying”. Yet the real disgrace on show is their lack of grace in their attitude to the officials or opponents and their petulant display of dissing – dissing minus grace adds up to disgrace.

We have to ask as well: how are such outbursts helpful or constructive? Such comments reveal that they as sportsmen, indeed as people, are “going nowhere, going nowhere”, that they themselves lack vision (in not seeing what they are doing by their comments).

Why should we believe their headline that it is a disgrace? Yes, these people are everyone who “wants to rule the world”, to win the league or bout or match.

It is indeed not just a mad, mad, very mad world but also a sad one that acts and speaks in such a way.

Of more concern, how are such outbursts from grown men helpful for youngsters growing up in sport? What impact are they having on children and indeed on society? Everyone has opinions, sure and everyone makes mistakes, definitely.

Whether these sportsmen consider that they made a mistake is no doubt questionable but they have a duty not simply to their club, but also to officials, opponents, above all to youngsters, and their outbursts are in truth embarrassing – a disgrace even.

It is interesting and perhaps informative that the Tears for Fears song, ‘Everybody wants to rule the world’, was beaten to the Number 1 spot by the classic song, “We are the World” which brought together numerous star performing artists and sought to raise money for starving children in Africa, with such lines as, “We are the world, We are the children. We are the ones who make a brighter day, so let's start giving. There's a choice we're making; We're saving our own lives. It's true we'll make a better day, just you and me.” Put in that context, the words of these sportsmen become somewhat childish and disgraceful themselves.

The very people who are calling out these sporting actions as a “disgrace” are themselves guilty of such a claim. They in turn show no respect towards those whom they charge with the claim. They are the ones perhaps who are embarrassing.

We, you and me, must make a brighter, better day for our children in sport.That is our choice.

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