Premiership players could learn a lot from Olympics

COMMENT: A great way to inspire and influence new generation

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If it’s true a picture is worth a thousand words, I can save myself a bit of hard graft this week.

All I’d need do to sum up the polar opposites within the British Olympic squad is publish photographs of Ryan Giggs and Laura Trott.

He, the grizzled, sullen, multi-millionaire who has confessed to sleeping with his brother’s wife. She, the fresh-faced, vibrant young woman whose omnipresent smile has lit up the thunderous acclaim cyclists have enjoyed in the velodrome over the past couple of weeks.

It’s a striking indictment of the so-called ‘British’ football team that as the people of these islands fell ever deeper into the thrall of this stupendous sporting jamboree, nobody seemed to give a damn about Giggs and his mates.

They were regarded, at best, as an irrelevance, and at worst, as a bunch of pampered opportunists.

The pointed and puerile refusal of the five-strong Welsh contingent to sing the national anthem before the start of their first match was totally at odds with the prevailing mood of the Olympics, and made them look like a bunch of sulky kids.

Our athletes, rowers and cyclists, on the other hand, have reminded those of us soured by the excesses of football at the highest level, just what genuine sporting heroes used to be like.

Since the Premiership was launched 20 years ago, an entire generation has grown up thinking many high-profile sports performers are monosyllabic, expectorating yobs, who swear and cheat as a matter of course.

Then in breezed the likes of Laura Trott, Jason Kenny, Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis to remind everyone there are still some sporting exemplars worthy of the name.

As a consequence, bicycle shops will be booming and people will be looking up the whereabouts of their nearest rowing club as the full effect of the London Olympics makes itself felt.

However, within a few weeks, these Games will be nothing but a special memory as the squalid reality of Premiership football once again pollutes our television screens.

I suspect recent converts to televised sport will find the contrast staggering.