Flash the card at macho critique of GAA move to tackle cynicism

It is hard to argue against a system that at least tries to sideline the hatchet men

Mon, Feb 17, 2014, 09:00

And now hurling is in on it. Not on the black card obviously. Hurling doesn’t need that. In fact it’s such a sporting paragon that Eddie Keher has proposed no need for the game to have even red and yellow cards, that they only produce cynicism and cheating in terms of trying to get players sent off. Keher has used rugby’s favourite “p” word also and said cards are at variance with the “manliness” of hurling. In this he has been supported by Kilkenny manager Brian Cody.

At the risk of unleashing my inner-Elton, that, boys, is a flaming tower of fairy-lit macho crap.

When Keher says hurling has never been a cynical game, he’s right. By definition no game is cynical. But there are plenty of cynics in every game, supposed hard men willing to whip like slave-drivers even if the ball is at the other end of the pitch. Such characters are more than happy to use a hurley like a baton and to trash-talk an opponent into rabid retaliation. In short, those willing to stretch the rules, and snap them, to their own benefit.

Hurling playing catchup
How can anyone logically argue against a system that at least tries to sideline the hatchet men, never mind one that

seems to have a decent shout of succeeding? There isn’t one thing the black card does that is not already against the letter and spirit of the law. All it does is deter. It actually works. So what’s the problem?

Not only should hurling retain red and yellow cards, it should also adopt the black variety. The “physicality” removed from the game will be of the cynical variety; you know, stuff that’s against the rules already – deliberate dragging down, tripping, body collisions, verbal abuse of team-mates, opponents or the referee.

Sure, mistakes will be made, maybe even as many as occur under existing hurling rules. But to argue that players are incapable of successfully adapting to a tweak in the rule book that theoretically outlaws such activities without always implementing those same rules is to presume they are all as stupid as some of them are cynical.

In reality hurlers, footballers, any sportspeople, are more than able to bend to the regulatory reality around them and it beggars belief to see some cod-macho “when-men-were-men” retro-nostalgia for a reality that could glorify dirt. And that often left referees in an unenviable vague no-man’s land with too much emphasis placed on their individual interpretative abilities.

The GAA has stumbled upon a way of removing some of the cynicism from their beautiful games and changing them for the better. How can anyone argue against it?

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