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Roker Ramble: Footballers? Olympians? Can't We All Just Get Along?

Booooo... Hisss...
Booooo... Hisss...

The Olympic Games in London came to an end the other week, and since then it seems to have been the mission of some quarters of the press to use the wonderful achievements of the athletes to batter football and footballers for some reason.

It seems to have started with the supposed 'under performance' of the Team GB Men's Football Team. They didn't win anything, but it seems some people think they should have because they earn a lot of money. An argument which makes no sense.

It's become very tiresome. It's a pointless argument. However it's one that's got my goat, and I'm going to have a bit of a Roker Ramble about...

I don't mind admitting I was completely wrong about the Olympics. Well, not 'wrong' as such but certainly I enjoyed it a lot more than I ever expected.

As the summers games drew closer, and even once they were on initially I found myself just not buying into any of it at all. It's a great occasion and all that, but I struggle to get excited watching people cycle around and around or run quite fast over a set distance. That's not to criticise anyone who loves the Olympics, it's just not for me. I'm partial to a spot of early 90's hip-hop and very strong cheeses - that's not for everyone either.

As the games went on though I have to admit to watching much more than I ever anticipated. Saturday morning's were spent watching Handball, Water Polo and various other sports rather than carousing the internet for the latest rumours about Sunderland. All of which was very enjoyable, but not nearly as enjoyable as watching the likes of Mo Farrah, Jessica Ennis and Nicola Adams take gold medals.

They were exceptional. Absolute giants in their fields who took on all comers and swatted them away like flies, and making British sport that little bit more proud than we usually are.

One apparently sour note for Team GB, and I use the word 'apparent' here with reason, was the lack of medals for the Mens Football Team, although I'm unsure as to why there was so much placed on the shoulders of young men in a newly formed team couldn't get it together with minimal time and training spent with each other? Oh right, the money...

Because that's what 'apparently' is maker of men, and the standard-bearer for expectation. If you make a lot of money in your job, expectations are higher and you should be delivering to the very highest degree at all times, which is simply unreasonable.

Since then it seems to have become a few journalists' mission to repeatedly beat football and footballers with a figurative Olympic Torch... "They make too much money!"... "Footballers are a disgrace!"... "They could learn from the athletes!"... and so forth ad nauseum.

If we're going to tar all footballers with the same brush, should we have done the same with athletes at the Olympics? It would only be fair to judge them on their strength of character too, such as Greek triple-jumper Voula Papachristou's racial slur, or perhaps the use of performance enhancing drugs by Justin Gatlin and Dwain Chambers.

Australian Rowers drunkenly damaging shops at 3am, the badminton players who attempted to fix games, the South Korean sailing coach caught drunk-driving... need we continue?

Of course a lot of these went unreported, or at best mentioned in dispatches before being swept under the carpet during the Olympics because it didn't fit the feel-good, good times mantra which was the overwhelming reaction to pretty much everything about the games.

As I said earlier, I very much enjoyed the games, much, much more than I ever anticipated, and it was overall incredibly enjoyable, but let's not pretend everything was perfect and that athletes should be held in a higher regard than others.

The vast majority are receiving money and sponsorship for doing what they're doing, allowing them to train all year round should they wish. £508m will be spread around the various Olympic teams trying to qualify for Rio 2016, which seems a lot, but spread around various sports it's not a huge amount. It is in a lot of cases enough to at the very least pay for some equipment and promotion of their sports though.

This is before we factor in private sponsorship such as Sky's deal with UK Cycling, while many other individual athletes have small deals with Nike, Adidas and so on to keep them going year round.

Olympians, like footballers, have their share of bad eggs too. Footballers, like Olympians have plenty of players who aren't knobs and conduct themselves in a perfectly respectable way. It's a very silly argument that has been brought up recently, and barely makes any sense.

If those who are hell-bent on bashing football are sat in their homes watching Super Sunday this weekend then they're a disgrace to themselves. Go on, get yourself down the local athletics track and watch some long jump or discus. It's much better, and these are better people - right?

The Olympics are an old flame (pardon the pun). They come around every now and then, you see them and temporarily fall in love before you snap out of it and go back to your wife, your football wife. You don't go home and list the ways this old flame is better than your wife, that's just weird. You stick with it.

I appreciate some might say I've just bashed athletics with those statements and what I'm about to say is slightly hypocritical. I haven't. I'm doing my part to redress the balance, and leaving it at that.

Football and it's players have their ups and downs, so do athletes, so do everyone else. Barring a monetary difference we're all the same. Leave the bickering, and just enjoy whatever it is you enjoy without having to find some sort of superiority complex.

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