Joanne O'Riordan: beware the relentless rise of sporting gurus

Any number of spoofers and bluffers now trailing the sports teams of the world

There is this bizarre trend happening in men’s sport, and I’ve seen it getting bigger and bigger every year.

I remember years ago Pat Spillane once went on the most magnificent 'old man yells at cloud' rant when discussing how spoofers and bluffers have infiltrated the modern game, you know, how the fellas with earpieces are running around and given a higher-ranked job.

And admittedly, we all laughed at him because a lot of stuff he was giving out about was basic science. Healthy diets, proper nutrition, weight programs, psychologists to get the best out of you mentally because we all know it’s not just a physical game it’s a mental one too. Everything Pat Spillane complained about it was stuff that had good theories and results behind it.

While I was watching the NFL and Tommy 'Terrific' Brady and the Patriots dismantle Philip Rivers a part of me was laughing because every time I see Tom Brady now, I think of Himalayan pink salt, no nightshades in his foods (to the layman that's no tomatoes, no potatoes and no peppers) and kale smoothies.


Infrared pyjamas come to mind too that help you sleep better. Just the average stuff everyone needs to be as good as Tom Brady.

But this isn't just TB12 Method… this is the "science" and "proven methods" brought to you by Alex Guerrero. Alex Guerrero studied medicine at the now-defunct Samra University of Oriental Medicine and is known to use experimental methods. But in Tommy Terrific's eyes, Guerrero is so much more.

Guerrero is his spiritual guide, counsellor, friend, nutrition adviser, trainer, massage therapist and family member. In fact, he is the godfather of Brady’s younger son, Ben.

He goes with Brady to almost every Patriots game, home and away, and stands on the sideline. Guerrero works with Brady’s personal chef to concoct food like avocado ice cream; he plans Brady’s training schedule. On top of that, during the football season, he works on Brady seven days a week, usually twice a day.

But last year, Bill Belichick had enough and, apparently, the staff were upset because Guerrero was using unconventional methods and he’s from a defunct university, and everything was a mess. So Guerrero had his access revoked and basically was put in his place by Patriots coach Belichick.

The reason I am going recycling the old news is because this trend of inviting in gurus (albeit, not unconventional ones like Guerrero) is making its way into Irish sports and the corporate psychology hippy-dippy lingo is slowly creeping in too.


I’m not talking about the basic nutritionists or physios or fellas with earpieces, I am talking about those who shout mantras at you and make you believe that the things written on get-well-soon cards can be turned into inspirational quotes.

These guys were big too in Hollywood.

I remember sitting through a Deepak Chopra talk once, and he told me that "happiness is a continuation of happenings which are not resisted".

I’ll let you decipher that.

I heard Tony Robbins too and I don’t buy it. Do that, eat this, sit there, push up there.

But, seriously, I have seen it myself that this type of lingo is spreading from team to team. Now, I always find that with the big life coaches, the ones that speak in riddles but charge you half a million to hear them, they are the ones that name-drop who they’ve worked with to justify themselves. They attach themselves to successful people and name-drop to justify their riddles.

I can't even tell you the number of times Deepak mentioned how he and Tom Cruise were best friends . . . because Tom Cruise knows that Tom Cruise is the universe. Alex Guerrero drops TB12's name all the time.

Buzzy corporate lingo is all the jazz now. Sometimes your mercury is in retrograde, and your moons don’t align. Sometimes Leos can’t train on a Monday and Tauruses are stubborn as hell but if you lavish them with praise, you’ll get them onside. Nah, how about we leave that jargon to the psychics, the gurus and just close that door.

You know what makes a successful team. The teams who don’t give anyone special treatment, who don’t play up to anyone’s vanity. The team which has a system in place that’s bendable but not breakable (excuse the guruism). The team that ensures egos at checked at the door and work hard for each other and for themselves. You don’t succeed unless you’re incredibly committed and driven. You don’t need someone to come in to realign your chakras and face your dressing room south for the feng shui.

Do we really need someone to come in and tell us to write down our goals, lay off the alcohol and eat well?

Sometimes in life, it’s the basics done well and good spirit and commitment and drive that can get you going.

Let’s not demonise the fella with the earpiece running in and out delivering messages to players. Let’s demonise that buzzy, cool and trendy corporate lingo. There are your spoofers and bluffers.