Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 26 May 2016

Biting Back: GAA Sky deal may have a silver lining

By Declan Bogue

Published 10/04/2014

Back to the Sky TV hook-up with the GAA. You thought you had read it all, but let me tell you how less games on terrestrial television can actually improve the health of the grassroots game.

When players retire from the club scene, they are notoriously difficult to recast in another role in the club. Until they produce children who start playing, often you find they drift away completely for number of years.

So say your club's senior team have a fixture at home on a Saturday night. The ex-player would probably go along, only Leitrim and Westmeath are meeting in a round two Qualifier and it's being shown live on the box. Much easier to enjoy some Miller time and tune in and flop out.

In all the misinformation being pushed by employees of RTÉ and other broadcasters, they fail to grasp how televised GAA has damaged the club scene. Attendances in league football in our corner of the world were worryingly down last year. The convenience of televised sport was a major factor.

If a Saturday evening or Sunday afternoon match was not so commonplace, you would get more people through the gates, which mean extra fivers in the Rover biscuit tin, leading to more interest in the club. Crowds follow crowds and the health of a club can be accurately measured in their following.

More crowds equal more motivation to become involved in the running, fundraising and coaching in your club.

So what kind of GAA person do you want to be – those that lie on a sofa grazing on snacks while watching a qualifier in Carrick-on-Shannon, or someone on the ground, living the life?

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