Footy players vs. Olympians: who has it better?
103 Have your say
At this time every four years, athletes must switch on their tellys, stare at the shenanigans going on and wonder what might have been if they had taken their talents to a different South Beach.
Yes, it must be tough work being an Olympian watching the footy from back home, while your stuck at the world’s biggest school carnival listening to the Bulgarian weightlifters next door play ‘100 Club’.
One of the arguments going around defending our 50 Shades of Silver in London is that Australia’s four pro football codes are siphoning away young talent from the Olympic disciplines, and what we’re being left with are just the nerdy chalk-boned cast offs, who’s Mum wouldn’t sign the permission slip.
This line of argument is a flaky one, yet inevitably springs up whenever Australia chews the poo in athletics, swimming, slamball etc.
Yes, four pro football codes seems somewhat excessive to anyone who needs to do yard work on their weekends, but trying to paint the footy administrations as some sort of Gargamel type figure creeping around in the dark kidnapping any ten-year-old with a decent 40m sprint time is not helping anyone.
The fact is, outside of the sports everyone wants booted out of the games anyway, what can the Olympics offer the young athlete? This is a serious business decision for the youngster and when one party brings to the table little more than the chance to learn a few words in French, why wouldn’t they give them le stiff arm to go kick a ball around?
For arguments sake lets compare a few major factors of being a professional sportsperson between footy and athletics (a sport many football players would potentially excel in) to see which one is more appealing .
Fans in all forms of football are by and large lunatics. Grown adults who will deck themselves out in outfits you’d normally dress your three year old in, then inevitably behave like three year olds when given the opportunity.
To say they will ‘always support you’ is a stretch, but they will always recognise you… even if it’s to heckle you for a dropped pass from thirteen years ago when you’re lining up at the vets to have your dog de-sexed.
As for athletics, well most people don’t mind a bit of athletics. Every four years. And don’t make me watch any of that heat crap either.
Also you’d better win at least a couple of Commonwealth golds or have, err, other reasons to have a decent profile (cough= Tamsyn Lewis= cough) if you want to make an appearance at the local school fete.
Your footy player trains hard. Watches what he eats. He does a small trip every week or so with occasional longer stints away from home. And come every weekend, he needs to perform.
His life is a hard grind, but he’s surrounded by a likeminded bunch of teammates lightening the suck by motivating him and putting deep heat in his speedos for laughs. More often than not he gets to sleep in his own bed after winding down with a few beers following the weekend match.
Your athletics type trains hard. Watches what he eats. If he’s good enough is zigzagged all over the world, in between working at Foot Locker trying to make a buck.
His life is a hard grind, but luckily he is surrounded by a couple of teammates trying to cut his grass for the one or two team spots available.
Come the Olympics he needs to peak, before passing out in the athletes cafeteria after his first beer in four years.
While it differs between codes to a degree, most footballing player agencies have negotiated a minimum wage for footballers appearing in elite competitions that bodes well when compared to us 9-5 suckers.
Athletics? Well there’s only so many multivitamin ads to go around isn’t there. You don’t happen to hold a European passport do you?
And here’s the kicker. If you’re after a place in the ‘Big Aussie Sports Almanac’ then yes, it’s pretty hard to top the Olympics. While it may not go with a lot of evening wear, an Olympic medal does get you past even the strictest of bouncers.
Miss out though and you’re just another well toned face in the crowd, and unlike footy, there ain’t always ‘next week’.
The AOC will be looking for a scapegoat in the next week or so to find its lost gold. Instead of accusing the football codes of stealing it, maybe they should be asking them for a couple of tips instead.
Follow Chris on Twitter: @Vic_Arious
Chris Chard is a sports humour writer commenting on the often absurd nature of professional sport. A rugby league fan boy with a good blend of youth and experience taking things one week at a time, Chris has written for The Roar, Rugby League Player Magazine, US Sports Downunder, the QRL and People. Tweet him @Vic_Arious