Churn, churn, churn

Willie Joe has been observing a few milestones recently – half a million hits, four years a-blogging – and it was during the course of flicking through his links that I came across this post, written in February 2008, where he laments the shortage of GAA activity in the blogosphere that we are always being told is going to change the way we view the world:

A year on, what still amazes me is the paucity of GAA blogs out there. I’m one of the very few doing this kind of thing and I cannot for the life of me understand why this is so. (Compare this state of affairs with the abundance of soccer blogs, of every shape and hue). There must be loads of other sad cases out there who are similarly inclined and it would be great to see a community of dedicated GAA bloggers, each covering in detail what’s going on in relation to their own county team, each with their own individual perspective, every one of us hopelessly biased. It would make a change from Tom Humphries and his nicely-crafted smart-assery wouldn’t it?

It would indeed, and sadly nothing has changed much in the interim. GAA blogs appear with the vigour of a comet portending the death of kings, burn brightly, then are gone before you know it, leaving behind a record so forlorn that you wonder whether it was ever really active. I’ve lost count of the amount of links I’ve put up only to delete them because, not to put too fine a point on it, they’re dead. And it would be rude to intrude upon their grief.

It inevitably leads one to wonder why this is the case, and this week gave me an insight into why it happens, particularly in the context of Willie Joe’s observation that there are an abundance of soccer blogs. This was the week when Fernando Torres upped sticks and decamped to Chelsea. Fans of just about every sport in these islands other than soccer routinely complain about the coverage lavished on every sneeze that emanates out of every English Premier League club, and there’s no doubt a lot of the speculation about the activities is at best speculation and at worst downright fabricated. Still, the Torres transfer was a big deal as the prized asset of one of soccer’s greatest names was lured away by the nouveau riche types who had long coveted him but seemed to have stepped back from the kind of telephone number spending that had characterised their rise to the top. The move was pure soap opera and jaded hacks found the story wrote itself, over and over again for days on end. Indeed, yours truly had no difficulty firing off 1,400 words of purple prose to capture the moment for posterity. And it won’t be long before there’s something else happens to capture the imagination, however stunted you might think that makes said imagination.

The poor ol’ GAA simply can’t compete. There are no transfers and there are too few matches. What is to be done about this state of affairs? Not much, is the answer. I shouldn’t need to elaborate at this stage on why transfers would be a bad idea – not that it’s self-evidently a bad idea, just that the arguments have been gone over so many times that it shouldn’t require elaboration. As for more matches at the business end of the year, it’s superficially attractive but the butterfly effect of such a change would be hard to gauge. Even the modest changes in the All-Ireland and provincial championships have diluted the appeal of the individual games. Fewer people attended both of the 2010 Munster hurling finals against Cork combined than either one of the 1998 editions against Clare, and that was a backdoor year. I don’t want to go back to the old ways, but I fear about the consequences of going further down the rabbit hole. And that’s before you even consider the effect on the fragile system that are the club championships. If you are a player for a senior club in Waterford, you are scheduled to play five county championship games in 2011. And that’s assuming the opposition don’t succeed in getting a postponement because one of their panel is playing on the senior football team that is having a bit of a run through the qualifiers. If you’re the type who wants to be active during the summer, there’ll be plenty of soccer clubs willing to provide you with an outlet and pride in the jersey be damned.

It can be frustrating, the lack of GAA activity online. It would be nice to have some more considered viewpoints to bounce off than what you get on message boards. But you can’t blame people for not keeping their interest levels up past the initial novelty phase. The alternative – being able to chunder on constantly about John Mullane pulling on the red and white of Cork – doesn’t bear thinking about.

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One thought on “Churn, churn, churn

  1. Willie Joe

    It is, for sure, still a barren enough field, three years or so since I wrote those words. As you’ve said, there are the odd blogs that start but they don’t tend to keep going for the long haul. I was in touch with one of those who started up some time ago and my advice was very simple – if you want to keep it going, you need to keep it going, even when you don’t feel like it and after that first rush has passed. Sadly, most fall at that first hurdle.

    The lack of action is a huge problem, for sure – our first league match took place on Saturday night after a gap of over seven months since our championship exit. Filling such a yawning chasm is difficult – if the minors get a run that helps (we made it to the final in ’08 and ’09) but the October-December shutdown is the most difficult, as there’s very little to talk about apart from book reviews and the like.

    One innovation I tried during this closed season was to have a guest slot and that worked really well, with a number of nice, reflective pieces that went well with all that snow in December. It’s something I’d like to build on in future years.

    Overall, though, I’d agree very much with what you’ve said in the piece – it ain’t easy at times to keep a GAA blog ticking over and it definitely helps to be more than slightly deranged, otherwise I’m sure I’d have stopped long ago!

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