My Newfound Respect for Irish Athletics – Kirk Coffin

24 Sep

A group of DBS students, myself included, recently participated in an extensive guided tour of the world-famous Croke Park Stadium. The experience was immersive, and gave me an incredible appreciation for Gaelic athletics that I will not soon forget. There are several pieces of information that I received on the tour which sowed the seeds for the great respect I now have for both the athletes and the GAA as a whole. The primary example of this is when I learned that the athletes in Hurling and Gaelic Football are not paid at all for their positions, and have full time jobs outside of the GAA. Having come from the U.S.A., where even college football students are petitioning to be paid for being on their teams, I found that very inspiring. This brought about the beginning of my appreciation for everything that Croke Park stands for, because it indicates that the players’ drive is not fueled by money, but simply by their passion for the game. The massive amounts of revenue generated by the events held in Croke Park are instead redistributed throughout the 32 counties of Ireland, to help maintain each county’s respective stadiums. This accepted concept in Ireland is refreshing, and directly contrasts with the contemporary American ideologies I have come to know all too well. The other main example that comes to mind, in regards to my budding respect for the GAA, is the deep, rich history riddled throughout Croke Park. There was talk of several sections of the stadium which were dedicated to certain important figures, all of which have their own story. The one I remember most vividly is the legacy of Michael Hogan, who was the captain and goalkeeper of Tipperary’s Gaelic Football team, and victim to British soldiers who opened fire indiscriminately upon the crowd on 21 November, 1920. While this was a great tragedy, it caused a huge uproar among the Irish population, and created an incredible revitalization in the GAA.. While there are many more instances of interesting factoids about Croke Park, these two stuck out the most and left by far the deepest impact on my perspective regarding Irish athletics. By L. Kirk Coffin III


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