One of the things that sends me most irate in life – refereeing decisions in el clasico aside – is that of stereotypes. In any capacity I genuinely feel they are grossly unfair and would be the first person to say something if I felt pre judging was occurring.
Being female, blonde and a sports journalist you can imagine I get my fair share of idiots making a variety of remarks I can only assume they feel are terribly original, witty and are worthy of an article in themselves. It drives me mad, and I have always been careful not to fall into the trap of tarring everyone with the same brush, yet last week I wrote a top ten tell tale signs of a Premier League footballer, including trips to Nandos, ill-timed comments on twitter and amnesia when it comes to wedding vows. As it was pointed out to me over the weekend, that was a prime example of stereotyping all footballers and yet again only focusing on ones who show the excess and negative side to the game.
Not all footballers are like that – in fact the majority are not. Think about players such as the Nevilles, Scholes, Carragher and especially ones from elsewhere in Europe, who for them the culture of excess and Wags is literally foreign to them – in his wildest dreams I doubt Kompany could even behave half as crassly as people like John Terry.
It is just a very few who are so public about what they do and how they live their lives that it becomes hard to break away from such an image, and the sport as a rule gets far more coverage on the front pages than any other. Look at cricket, rugby and even the Olympics – over the past few years there have been stories in the tabloids about misdemeanours from the sportsmen involved, yet that dies down after a couple of days and is conveniently forgotten about whereas a footballer does something wrong once and it is red top fodder for weeks on end.
Perhaps there is more discretion in said sports and certainly less money involved, yet to assume all footballers are in the Cashley Cole mould or the John Terry one is vastly wrong and quite insulting. For anyone who has not, I would urge you to read the secret footballer’s column in The Guardian newspaper, which is a fantastic insight into the world, and whilst there are disclosures that make you raise your eyebrows there are equally things that make you feel some footballers are harshly done by. The same can be said about Louis Saha’s book, Thinking Inside the Box – a very frank look at the harsh world of football, behind the glamour and tabloid fodder and a definite read for people who are interested in that side of the game.
People can be too quick to forget that footballers are human and susceptible to the temptations that all of us face – as a 22 year old I am sure most of you did some less than stellar things, yet a journalist is not there to plaster it on the pages of a paper. Footballers like all of us will make mistakes and need time to grow up, and some will turn out to be shall we say naughty, some will get sick, some will suffer from a mental illness or addiction and need help and some will be stand up members of society. You get all types of people in life, so of course you do in the beautiful game – perhaps it is time we started to realise it.