Sledging and targeting of players is still a problem.. But what is being done about it?


When I was growing up sledging was going down a snow covered hill on a sledge but nowadays the word has become quite common for a very different reason; when a player tries to intimidate an opponent by verbally insulting them.

There have been high profile incidents of sledging which have made headlines over the last number of years. There are also cases that don’t make headlines because they happen in club games which don’t get much coverage. The sad reality is some of those happen at underage games. Something that shocked me.

Talking to referees about sledging I was stunned to find out that it has been going on in club games for a while now. There aren’t many ‘isolated incidents’ either.

I know of a young player that was the target of disgusting verbal abuse last year every time he came up against a certain team; the shocking thing is it wasn’t just the opposition players that were tormenting him but officials in the dug-out. What a fine example that management team are to their players.

It’s sad to think that some teams now don’t just prepare for a game by looking at the match-ups, the best players, the way the other team plays etc, no it’s how can we get one over them by any means possible even if it is humiliating a player with personal comments.

Let’s be honest. We’ve all given out to a referee or player about something on a pitch. It’s part and parcel of the game but when it gets personal, that’s overstepping the mark.

Last weekend at a local football match I watched as a talented player was ‘targeted’ throughout the game. It was physical abuse and what amazed me was the linesman could see it happening but failed to notify the referee. Everytime the player got the ball he was robustly and illegally challenged but he never once retaliated. It would’ve been so easy to just lash out but he kept his cool. In the end he scored what turned out to be the winning point; and what a beauty it was.

The GAA have an initiate ‘Give respect, Get respect’ in which it aims to promote positive behaviour. There is nothing positive about verbal or physical abuse. It’s a huge problem within the GAA but what has been done about it?

There is only so many times you can tell a player to ignore the comments and abuse and let their football do the talking.

Stick and stones……. Yeah right, sometimes the names are definitely more hurtful.