So it’s a long standing belief of mine that footballers should be expected to uphold such responsibilities; its their responsibility to show themselves in the best light, considering they are made to look like pillars of our community with some actually milking this fact through all the public exposure they get, those right at the top of the game; David Beckham, Christiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Robiniho etc reap the the finest of rewards from such exposure; mega sponsorship deals, television appearances, image rights these men are treated like kings, they are literally selling lifestyles.
Millions of unsuspecting children are sucked into the rampant media onslaught of football marketing and merchandising and how can they not be, when everywhere you turn, news papers, magazines, footballing television shows, advertisements, computer games, even down to non sporting clothing, have allowed footballers to weed themselves into nearly every knook and cranny of our lives. The Paddy Powers advert can be seen as a chilling indication of this. Carlton Palmer startles an unsuspecting supporter as he takes a bath, by popping his head from under the water. Now I know this was not the overall message paddy Powers was trying to portray as they are a bookies and want people to buy bets, however it’s not far from the truth. Literally everything we do in life can be associated with a footballing personality.
As a child I remember the influence of which such stars like Eric Cantona had over me; with the rolling up of his shirt collar and the famous phrase from the Nike advert "auvoir"; Faustino Asprilia, and my countless attempts of copy his half a cartwheel; Ian Wright and the numerous exuberant celebrations basically running around the pitch with a fat smile screaming and shouting. These Influences helped me decide on my next set of boots, shin pads even down to the studs. These players were played out like Gods before me, doing the wildest of stunts and tricks that any child would have been amazed by.
However the very same medium that help build their stardom, also causes their downfall. Players and newspapers share a close connection, and unlike kids magazines like ‘The Matchmag or Shoot. Newspapers are not there to blanket players, the newspaper publisher just want to sell the news and will print any feasible story to do so. And with us living in a world where bad news makes good reading, footballers are not safe. So naturally you would have thought players, whom are seen as role models would not want to have their names dragged through the papers. Yet this doesn’t seem to be the case even though some would say, the exposure is not exactly down to their own doing and not exactly what the players wanted when their careers started. Some would say they just wanted to play football and had no intentions of being marketed as role models. For those who say that you make me chuckle!! That is such a ridiculous statement... Every player knows the pros and cons of being a footballer, before signing those contracts. Infact the pro's actually over shadow the cons so I doubt at the time of having to sign a £4 million contract over four years is going to be affected by the thought of press intrusion by most players, girls throwing themselves at their feet or the duty of being a role model.
I guess what I’m getting at is players need to understand they have more than a duty entertain on the pitch, they also have role as role models. Being a celebratory and a high profile one at that almost guarantees their exposure to the world, so whatever is written or unveiled about a player is not just a reflection on themselves but also their employers (club), colleagues and family. I’m not saying players cannot make mistakes or go through hard times, as they are human and as humans we all make mistakes. We all have emotions and think differently about things. Yet players need to understand/over stand that Young impressionable children and even highly passionate adults are watching their every move. Through the out let of the media these days there is little that they can hide and what they do hide usually comes to light anyhow
These views have been brought to you by
Gavin C Henry aka Da G-Man