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Who Is Your Role Model?

The Telegraph has an article that talks about dissent and on-pitch cussing by players in general. I thought it was well written, and worth a read.

He raises valid points about how players like Wayne Rooney, who are role models for upcoming English youth, and their blatant swearing at referees is a shame for the game. While, in recent times, Rooney has curbed his temper that has been his undoing in the past, he has been guilty of letting fly some words that naturally come off his tongue, which may not necessarily be palatable for viewers of all ages.

Rooney is not the only guilty person here. Smith is also known for that, and a lot of other English players too. Now I am not trying to take a moral high ground about swearing in general. But in a game, where a referee is expected to play an arguably tough job, it is rather unfair that the bloke and his assistants be subjected to invectives like they’ve committed crimes against humanity.

After all, these people are doing their jobs and are paid for it. Any blatantly wrong decision will count against them retrospectively. So a referee who messes up very often will soon be taken off the books by the FA, or so I would think. It is then really surprising that football tolerates so much dissent. Granted, in the heat of the moment, when you see your opponent roll twenty yards for a mere touch by your finger nail, you will let fly at the referee for a wrongly given yellow card. It is terribly hard to keep your calm if it is a world cup quarter final, when your club mate comes and asks the ref for justice. (I know where I am getting, so I’ll stop it right here!)

But like the wise ones say, shit happens. Not just in football, but in life too. So a little shake of the head, a taking-things-in-stride kind of an attitude goes a long way in separating a great player from the good. Moreover you build some kind of a reputation of being a fair player. And like life, you build good karma… umm, or so I’d like to believe. If you stretch it to sports like tennis, for example, names like Borg, Sampras and Federer come to mind.

Yes there are worse things than swearing at refs like, for example, diving. But then a diver builds a bad reputation and could get less penalties, sometimes not even the genuine ones, due to his reputation. It’s not to say that the fair ones have better chances of winning penalties. But those situations have more to do with gamesmanship, and can be reserved for another day, and for another blog perhaps. (Like the Soccerlens Forum, for example. *wink wink* Ahmed!)

But as fans, when we look up to players, we tend to go with our player’s frustrations and vent our anger at the ref. But do we ever, for a moment, stop and think if they truly deserve a mouthful of abuse. And shouldn’t a player who earns 100 times more than the ref show a little more class, if not for anything else?

More so, at the end of the day, would we want to look up to a Rooney or a Ryan Giggs? Both are outrageously talented. One is still young and restless, but can give you an earful if you rub him the wrong way. The other, a veteran, might vent his disappointment, an occasional exasperated rant for a wrong decision or something like that. Who would you look up to as a more rounded role model? To put it better, who would you want your kids to watch and model themselves on?

I’m sure, Rooney is mending his ways. He is far more mature from his petulant days, where one would pray someone zipped his mouth after an involvement in a foul. He didn’t get sent off even once last season (apart from the pre-season), which speaks a lot about his determination. Hopefully he grows up to be the role model footballer at United for years to come.

Pardon the political correctness of this article, but when even sports like American football and rugby don’t tolerate dissent toward the officials, aren’t we being a little too lenient on our footballers? And of course, I’d appreciate your answers to my role model question too.