The last 12 months have seen some of the biggest names in the world of sport retire. Be it Sachin Tendulkar and Jacques Kallis in cricket, Sir Alex Ferguson in football or Brian O’Driscoll in Rugby, the most popular sporting individuals for the current generation are falling by the wayside.
When one generation ends another begins, but I can’t help but think that the next collection of sporting superstars are unlikely to have the same effect as the previous crop. This raises the question of whether the O’Driscolls and the Roger Federers of this world are the last of the ‘sporting legends’?
I understand that Federer hasn’t retired, but he epitomises the attitude of my generation’s sporting greats. The gentlemen of sport have come to fruition and have proved that sport can reach millions of people for the right reasons, and not the wrong reasons which are so often spread to the viewing public instantaneously on social media.
What is great about people like O’Driscoll and Tendulkar is not just their achievements, but the way in which they achieved their successes. An achievement is often heralded more when it is done with the right attitude, which is why people like Kevin Pietersen or
Luis Suarez won’t go down as all-time greats. They will go into history as talented people, whose attitudes and actions overwrote their successful careers.
And I can’t help but think that the trend that has been set by Pietersen and Suarez, is likely to become the norm in future years. The gentlemen of sport are becoming the minority, and the remainder are those that are going to pass on their attitude to the generations to come. But what has caused this change in attitude?
In my mind that's a simple question to answer... Money.
Gone are the days when professional sport was played for the love of the game, and the drive to succeed for your team or your country. Gone are the days when the badge on the front of the shirt meant more than the name on the back. Gone are the days when sport could be enjoyed without advertising and sales pitches, plugs and brand names everywhere. Gone are the days when going to watch a top level game at a ground was possible for the majority of people.
Money has turned sport into the billboard for big businesses and big bank accounts. And this is causing a dramatic change in the attitude of those who perform sport for sponsorship.
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