Game Over, Ball Burst: Sport and business crossover once more

Donn O'Sullivan


Donn O'Sullivan


Game Over, Ball Burst: Sport and business crossover once more

Peter O'Mahony in training this week ahead of Leicester Tigers

IT seems, with each passing week, that the lines between sport and professional sport, become more and more blurred.

The week that was, has been dominated by the news that both, CJ Stander and Peter O'Mahony are in negotiations with the IRFU surrounding their future with both Munster and Ireland.

The fans of Munster went into nervous overdrive when the stories broke that one, if not both, of their favourite players could leave the province as early as next May.

This news followed quickly after the confirmation that Simon Zebo is leaving the province at season's end. Something that the fans are still coming to terms with.

When Peter O'Mahony was asked about his contract this week, by the media, he refused to comment any further than the normal ‘go to’ lines at this time of year.

“Look, it's well documented at this time of year , you get offers from clubs in France and England. I'm going to leave my agents sort all that side of it. It's professional sport. It's a short career. Hopefully it will be done by the New Year regardless.”

There is a lot in there. One thing that people took exception to this week is that Peter O'Mahony had to answer those questions at all. People feel that it is not the media's business to know about players contracts or the length and status of same.

They have a point. However, as each week passes, it seems the role of the media is forgotten.

The media are the ‘medium’ by which the players can talk to a large fan base. Yes, with the advent of social media, this is not the same dynamic as in recent seasons, but the premise is still the same.

The media ask the questions so that fans can get the real story. Teams and players, in all sports, can put their own spin on tweets and website posts, but the media at large are there on behalf of the fans. The media are there to provide insight and in some cases opinion.

So this is where sport and professional sport differ. This is where, if a player is asked to speak to the media in his or her professional role, then that is what is expected of them.

Is it a distraction ahead of a game? Absolutely. Would everyone prefer if this week was all about how Munster are going to beat Leicester and not about off the field stuff? Absolutely. Sadly, this is not the case.

The stories in papers can often be rumours fuelled by either side of the table at these contract negotiations. If a rumour comes out of a meeting, then there are only a select few people who are responsible for same. Often another fact that goes under the radar.

The point is this. Professional sport, with all that goes with it, is a business. The sports teams want the media to help build their brands worldwide, to as large and audience as possible, however one has to take the good with the bad.

If people are willing to use the media to gain extra leverage in negotiations, then they have to be willing to be asked about those negotiations too. Sadly, that's the game and that is the World we live in.