Organisation must start singing from the same hymn sheet
Writing about the various advertising and marketing initiatives undertaken last year to promote the championships, he notes that not all units appreciated the importance of the project.
“While some counties were enthusiastic and cooperative, others were complacent and appear to believe that it is not necessary to promote our games. Such complacency is no longer acceptable: it is important that we all understand the changed context in which we are trying to attract people to our matches.”
In a related area Duffy argues the case for greater co-operation with media in securing the promotional benefits of valuable match coverage. There can be crossed wires on this issue: media doesn’t cover Gaelic games as a favour to the GAA; it does so because the public are interested.
Nonetheless coverage of a sport will suffer, qualitatively as well as quantatively, if media can’t get access to the principals, be they players or managers – a situation acknowledged by Duffy in his report. “One of the most frustrating problems we encounter,” he writes, “is the media ‘ban’ that some counties impose on players prior to major games; this refusal to let players speak to journalists greatly limits, and undermines, the efforts we make to market our games. Where is the proven correlation between avoiding the media and winning matches?
“If we want these media to cover our games as we would like, we need to make our material available in a similar manner. Access to players is especially important. I realise that our players are amateurs, that most of them have jobs and that much of their time is already given over to their participation in our games.
“Clearly, they cannot be expected to be available to journalists on a daily basis – there has to be a balanced approach to this issue. Some players will not wish to engage with the media at all, and their wishes must be respected, but many of our players are extremely articulate, enjoy the media interaction and can benefit in various ways from the public profile generated by exposure in the media.”
This is not a new concern. Ten years ago Duffy’s predecessor Liam Mulvihill had this to say in his 2003 annual report: “If players do not wish to be interviewed, this is their right . . . While respecting the right of team managers and players I should again reiterate that there is a minimum level of access and co-operation that can and should be afforded to media while ensuring that these rights are indeed preserved.”
The relevant point here is that identifying a problem and remedying it are – without acceptance by those involved – two different things. It also demonstrates one of the GAA’s core difficulties: applying professional solutions to amateurs.