Henry Shefflin

Kilkenny hurler Henry Shefflin

Dr Jacky Jones writes:

The GAA and other sports organisations do great community work. The problems arise with the amount of media coverage given to male sport, and a complacent listenership. Irish sexist attitudes mean most people think the excess coverage is normal. Women are so used to being left out, ignored, sidelined, and occasionally indulged, that even they think the coverage is normal….

In the week following the All-Ireland hurling final, Seán O’Rourke interviewed Kilkenny hurler Henry Shefflin, who described his parenting when training as “15 minutes of fatherhood”. He writes about parenting, and how it impinged on his sports career… “I’d describe myself as a modern father, in that I’d happily change nappies, do my little bit.” On his 15 minutes of fatherhood: “I leave the house at 5.30 [15 minutes after he gets home from work], when I’m pulling back in the gate everyone’s in bed and asleep.”

Crying babies upset his routine: “To be woken by a teething baby in All-Ireland final week is to feel a rising panic. What if I don’t get back to sleep and end up feeling drained?” Who cares? Is sport as important as a child’s needs?
Unfortunately, this behaviour is par for the course, not only for sportsmen but for many Irish males.

….If sportsmen and their fans spent even a quarter of the time, energy and zest they devote to sport, to a campaign for publicly funded childcare, the country would be awash with cheap creches by Christmas. In fact, it is scary to think of how quickly they could make it happ

Second Opinion: In the world of sport, women are still making the sandwiches (Jacky Jones, Irish Times)

54 thoughts on “Pampered

  1. Mr. T.

    Ah calm down FFS. He’s talking about an All Ireland Final.

    Children are more important but a final is more urgent.

    Most fathers I know are excellent, very involved and far better at it than their own fathers.

    1. Dόn Pídgéόní

      Is the point not that he does 15 mins during training and she does all the rest?

      Either way, he sounds like a bit of a willy.

      1. John E. Bravo

        Agreed: every excerpt I’ve read of the biog is like “Needless to say, I had the last laugh.”

      2. Dόn Pídgéόní

        I didn’t say willy…

        Anyway, I’d be pretty annoyed if that was my husband doing sweet fa to help me out with the kids/house.

          1. Dόn Pídgéόní

            Oh wow, Jonotti, that’s a good one. Why don’t you just call me ugly and pull my pigtails?

          2. realPolithicks

            Jonotti doesn’t have a missus or a mister, fraternization isn’t allowed where he lives.

        1. classter

          Yup, as would I, but that is the nature of high-level sport, especially when having to work also. The life of a sportsperson is an obsessional, self-centred one – whatever gender you are.

          Meanwhile, the Ladies gaelic football final attracted the biggest crowd for such an event in Europe this year. This indicates the ever-increasing focus put on female sport in the Irish media. Think of the attention (rightfully) given to Sonia O’Sullivan, Derval O’Rourke & the Cork ladies football team. The idea that this is accepted from men only doesn’t stack up.

          The broader point is that the media tends to focus on a small subset of the world’s population – those who are at the top of their game – and thus disproportionately focus on those who, for better or worse, are selfish (even sociopathic) about what they do.

          1. Dόn Pídgéόní

            I would wager a sizeable amount that professional female sportspeople spend more than 15mins with their kids.

          2. classter

            I am pretty sure that an obsessive focus on some activities to the (partial) exclusion of family & friends isn’t exclusive to either gender.

            Anyway, this columnist is taking the experiences (at a point of time) of the single best hurler of his generation (some argue of all time) and applying that to all men.

          3. Dόn Pídgéόní

            Of course. But partial exclusion is one thing, never seeing your friends or family is another and that separation would be gendered, as was my original point.

        2. ethereal_myst

          I don’t know, spreaking from a female point of view I’m sure his wife knew before they got married and had kids how much time he spent in training and playing. She is quite likely to be okay with the situation.

          1. Dόn Pídgéόní

            Knowing about something and being ok with it are two different things. She can do what she likes, but as I say, for me, based on my life and my experiences, I would not be happy with that.

          2. classter

            I wouldn’t be happy with it either. But that is the reason (well, one of the reasons) we are not partnered with top level athletes.

          3. Don Pidgeoni

            I wouldn’t excuse them because they are a top level athlete either, not sure that’s what you’ll miss when you’re on your deathbed

  2. Baz

    Ah, I was wondering where the article was going as it became increasingly presumptuous and judgemental, then WHAM it smashcut to a demand for tax payer funded crèches

    Well, Ms Jones, Mr Sheflin is clearly the sort of bread winner that doesn’t place demands on the taxpayer, it’s an incredibly cheap shot to use him to drive your whiney agenda

    The Irish Times actually published this??

    1. deemg

      Thats Dr. to you Mr. Snidey

      Have you seen the other shite from the likes of O Brien that the times publish? This is nobel prize by comparison to that.

  3. Jonotti

    Bizarre argunent associating sport with child care.
    Ireland needs more parents staying at home and less dumping of kids in dodgy creches for 12 hours per day.

    1. Macconnait

      Dunno about that. who can afford a mortgage, And kids and water charges AND the usc w/ only one parent working in the house?

      1. Jonotti

        Not many because of the welfare leeches. Ireland is broken. I don’t do a tap at home but the wife is well looked after and doesn’t need to work . Our daughter has a life that’s unimaginable in Ireland.

        1. The People's Hero

          How proud you must be to know your daughter has a long life of male servitude ahead of her…..

          Like mother like daughter and all of that….

        2. ahjayzis

          Do you want your daughter chained to her husbands cooker looking after the kids or chained to a desk making money to pay the mortgage? Would she not have more options in life if childcare was available?

          1. Dόn Pídgéόní

            Sure, I give her her apron money every Friday and pat her on the bum when she puts my dinner on the table. Good wifey.

          2. Jonotti

            She likes it. Not every woman wears glasses with thick frames and spouts about social injustices on twitter 24/7.

          3. Dόn Pídgéόní

            She probably doesn’t have time what with having to look after a giant man baby as well as her kids

        3. Nially

          A few threads ago you and your wife both had great jobs and were rich from not paying tax.

          Try to keep your ridiculous, self-aggrandising lies straight, would you?

  4. Rob_G

    Ah, would you go away and sh*te, Dr. Jones – taking the experience of one elite athlete and applying it to the entire male population; I’m not surprised that Henry Shefflin didn’t have a huge amount of free time, but I doubt his lifestyle is typical for most fathers.

    ” The problems arise with the amount of media coverage given to male sport… Irish sexist attitudes mean most people think the excess coverage is normal.

    – not sure what this has to do with men not doing the housework; and male sport gets more coverage because, rightly or wrongly, it is typically more popular than its female equivalent (amongst both men and women).

    If sportsmen and their fans spent even a quarter of the time, energy and zest they devote to sport, to a campaign for publicly funded childcare, the country would be awash with cheap creches by Christmas.

    – and if people spent a quarter of the money that they spent on juicers on solving the refugee crisis, it would be sorted, too; unfortunately, people are selfish and a bit fickle, so here we are.

  5. meadowlark

    She is right though. My daughter is two. Myself and her dad have been together for almost a decade. But I can tell you that there are often days where I could be a single mother for all the help I get. He might have been working huge hours or something like that but (and I say this not for myself but for our child) it is not enough for him to only see her for 10 minutes in the morning or before she goes to bed. It is not enough for her. And like Henry there my partner doesn’t mind dirty nappies or anything like that. It is the time he spends with her that is important not just what he does.

    1. Deluded

      I spent a year travelling weekly for a contract.
      The baby “made strange” at the weekends (crying when I picked her up).
      That was hard- they were the longest work-weeks ever.
      Then my wife went swanning off on her career yet she is still the favourite. Feckers.

  6. Kolmo

    Sport is given far too much importance in the media as opposed to actual social problems such as the blight of for-profit childcare on working people – is that what she is saying?

  7. Custo

    “The Gender Equality Index 2015 shows that twice as many Irish female workers as males are “doing cooking and housework every day for one hour or more”. According to the Central Statistics Office, 98 per cent of those looking after home and family in Ireland are women.”

    I may be silly, but surely this might have something to do with paid maternity v paid paternity leave?

    1. Rob_G

      “twice as many Irish female workers as males are “doing cooking and housework every day for one hour or more”

      – that number doesn’t mention anything about the male and female figures relating to couples, either, so one can imagine that a small % of bachelors living in squalor and eating ready-meals can bring down the male average significantly.

    2. Bort

      My partner does most of the cooking and housework to be fair but I can tell you, she knows feck all about the lawn mower, walking the dog, fixing the car, buying new tyres, hanging pictures, moving crap, installing the dishwasher etc. We are different people, people are different, genders can be different.

      1. Janet, I ate my avatar

        Yep sonds like my fella but the only daily task you mentioned was the dog which is hardly a chore
        .. it’s the repetitive daily crap that grinds you down

        1. Bort

          And to be even more honest my cooking is a sub standard, drawn out messy affair. I iron my own clothes due what I’m detecting as a fake sub standard finish my partner was doing. But…..what is missing from the conversation is that I do appreciate it, sure most females bare the brunt of house work, that’s a legacy from our parents and their parent’s parents but most men folk do appreciate it and things in a good relationship are reciprocal, swings and round about. It might be “sexist” but I havn’t been taken out for dinner in about…..ever!

          And to be really sexist, do women not thrive on having something to nag about?

  8. ____

    The life of an elite sports-person often comes across as quite selfish.

    Their training controls all aspects of their lives; when to eat, sleep, drink, rest, play, socialise etc. is all dictated by what’s best for performance (not like a regular job that is done to give you the means to live the rest of your life). This is a burden borne by both the players and those around them, but there isn’t any choice in the matter, The only real silver-lining is that it’s usually over by their mid-30’s.

    This is equally true for both male and female (elite) sports-people.

    There are plenty cr@p parents out there who don’t make enough time for their kids, but holding Henry Shefflin up as their role-model really takes his situation out of context.

    ps. The point about women’s sport is well made but I think the most important change (which I believe is slowly happening) is to value participation of everyone in sport throughout childhood, and especially their continued participation thereafter. With equal levels of participation, equal coverage is inevitable.

  9. classter

    ‘….If sportsmen and their fans spent even a quarter of the time, energy and zest they devote to sport, to a campaign for publicly funded childcare, the country would be awash with cheap creches by Christmas. In fact, it is scary to think of how quickly they could make it happen’

    This is possibly the stupidest, emptiest statement I have ever read in an opinion piece in a broadsheet newspaper. She gives John Waters a run for his money. Why not take the ‘time, energy and zest’ from the world of music? You could lead with a musician (of either gender) speaking about the stresses of being on tour.

    Why not attempt to win over your audience rather than merely browbeating them for not supporting what you support (I do on this one btw) or for not according it the importance you do?

  10. bingo

    Could be worse, the father could be at home p*ssed off his face roaring his head off every evening. Cheers!

  11. K Quinn

    Campaign for ‘publicly-funded childcare’? Oh, you mean a campaign to make me pay for your children?

    I have a better idea: The state will give you a low-interest loan for your childcare costs, and you can pay it back from your pension, or your children’s ‘inheritance’.

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