Belfast Telegraph

Cheer and jeer, but don't forget what really counts

A disaster is not when a defender falls over to allow a striker to score or a golfer misses an easy putt. That's a mistake, an error, a calamity even, but not a disaster.

By Steven Beacom

What's the toughest thing to find in sport? Pace? Power? Drive? Inspiration? Nerve? Character under pressure? None of the above. The correct answer is Perspective and that's because where sport is concerned we all tend to get carried away with our teams, our dreams, our heroes and the moment.

These days too many commentators get carried away with their words as well.

Maybe this is just me, but when I read about or hear an incident in a game of football being described as a 'disaster', I feel uneasy.

I understand the desire to convey the importance of something crucial, but a disaster is what happened at Hillsborough in 1989 or Bradford's Valley Parade Stadium in 1985.

A disaster is not when a defender falls over to allow a striker to score or a golfer misses an easy putt. That's a mistake, an error, a calamity even, but not a disaster.

That's not just about using an appropriate term, it's about finding perspective.

A good place to look would have been at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards on Monday night. There was a stunning line-up of star guests representing Ulster sport from Martin O'Neill to Michael O'Neill and Barry McGuigan to Dame Mary Peters, with that dynamic Belfast boxing duo Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan providing their customary chuckles on stage.

That was great as was the humility shown by major award winners such as Carl Frampton and David Healy.

And then there was our brilliant Winter Paralympics champion Kelly Gallagher telling the packed audience the best thing to come out of winning a gold medal in Sochi was being invited to schools to talk about her experiences and having the opportunity to tell children they can be anything they want to be.

Anto Finnegan looked on in admiration. Moments later he would be on stage himself receiving a standing ovation as he collected a richly deserved Local Heroes award from Tyrone's legendary manager Mickey Harte.

Anto, a former Antrim gaelic footballer, was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2012 and has been fighting the crippling condition hard ever since, raising funds and awareness along the way by setting up the 'deterMND' foundation with his wife Alison and staging an historic GAA match at the Kingspan Stadium, home of Ulster Rugby.

Here was a man who, while still loving his sport, now puts it into context.

Perspective.

Stephen Uprichard has found it too. Formerly manager of Armagh City, Stephen was as competitive as they come with a passion for the game that often led him into heated debates on the sidelines.

He was also emotional at the Belfast Telegraph awards...in a different sense, filled with pride as he sat alongside his wife Sarah watching as their beautiful daughter Amy collected a prize on behalf of Rory McIlroy.

Amy (pictured) has been battling a form of leukaemia and on Monday evening represented the Daisy Lodge Cancer Fund for Children Centre, which is supported by the Rory McIlroy Foundation.

You could have heard a pin drop as she spoke eloquently about her condition, the Centre and Rory.

The 25-year-old Holywood hero has already achieved huge success and will enjoy more in the future, but in the grand scheme of things his generous gesture to give the Daisy Lodge Centre, just outside Newcastle, £1 million will take some beating.

The place is a godsend for people who really need it, like the Rea family.

I met little Joel Rea, dad Jonathan and mum Christine, who is undergoing cancer treatment, on a recent visit to the Centre. They certainly appreciate it.

I got to thinking that the great Dr Jack Kyle would have done too.

The Ulster and Ireland rugby icon passed away in November. Always a regular at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards, on Monday Jack was paid a lovely tribute by his daughter Justine and another hero Mike Gibson.

Mike told how Jack had gone to Zambia to work as a surgeon because it was more important for him to help others than become a rugby superstar.

Joey Dunlop, named Northern Ireland's Greatest Sports Star Ever at the glittering ceremony, would have identified with that.

Winning wasn't everything to him. Joey, who died in 2000, just loved to get on his bike and race and more so try to help those less fortunate with all his charity work.

His daughters Joanne and Donna, who collected his trophy, explained their dad just saw himself as an ordinary guy. Another who could keep sport in perspective.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for cheering on my team or booing the opposition in an acceptable manner and celebrating like a crazy fool when they triumph and of course I'm gutted when they lose.

But it's worth all of us remembering when we're in the moment, if only just now and again, that there really are more important things in life.

Belfast Telegraph

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