70% of players favour pro/semi-pro status

The recent announcement of a GAA game for the Sony Playstation2 has raised the issue of players’ control of the rights to their image for sponsorship purposes, with two prominent members of the Gaelic Players Association [GPA] critical of the GAA Board’s absence of consultation with those featured in the game. The GPA have also just released the first large-scale survey, by UCD, of players’ attitudes and note that 70% of senior inter-county players favour a move to professional, or semi-professional, status.[section 13]From the survey report

Section 13 Amateur Status

Section 13 of the Constitution and Rules of the GAA unequivocally defines the amateur status of Gaelic Games, a status taken for granted in the past. This confirms the recommendations of the Amateur Status Report (1997) and the view of the Strategic Review Committee . The latter (section 14.2) ‘would not envisage a professional game, or ‘pay-for-play’ ‘. This however is not the view of the majority of Senior Intercounty players.

The present survey clearly demonstrates the major commitment of time demanded by inclusion in a Senior Intercounty Panel. This commitment by GAA players now equals, and frequently exceeds, that of part-time and full-time professionals in other sports. It is clear that the majority of players favour being reimbursed for loss of earnings and other expenses incurred by their membership of Senior Intercounty Panels. Moreover, seventy per cent of players also favour a move to professional or semi-professional status. However, only a small minority of these favour full-time professionalism. The great majority of players believe that Gaelic Games could not sustain full-time professionalism at present and less than half believe that they could do so by the year 2020. In contrast, two-thirds of players believe that, even at present, semi-professionalism could be sustained at the Senior Intercounty level, again a view at variance with that of the 2002 Strategic Review. A move to such a status would obviously have major implications for the GAA.