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11th Jul 2018

Paul Galvin point about WhatsApp groups in GAA is relevant now more than ever

This was unexpected

Mikey Stafford

Bert and Ernie, Chandler and Joey, Ted and Dougal, Gooch and Galvin… the Kerry lads rank up there among the great comedy duos of modern times.

Paul Galvin and Colm Cooper had the crowd rolling in the aisles at GAA Hour Live event ahead of the All-Ireland final, a couple of years back.. The pair told story after story that had the Sugar Club roaring with laughter.

Galvin had the audience rapt with a well-told tale of Cooper going back to bed [in 2007] after the morning schedule of ‘Breakfast, Physio, Lunch’ on All-Ireland day.

“I said, ‘We’ve a game there about 3:30, if you wouldn’t mind joining us’.

“Gooch just stretches. ‘Ah, we’ve a few minutes yet’.

“It was like he hit the snooze button. Back asleep for five minutes. Rolled out of bed. Hit 1-5 that day.”

The former room-mates are clearly very good friends so, when Galvin reflected on his buddy’s retirement in his Sunday Times column, last year, we might have expected a few stories sprinkled with a little pathos. We got those but we got more.

As he described the quiet authority with which Cooper could lead a dressingroom or influence a squad as star-studded as Kerry’s panel of the noughties, Galvin took issue with the modern phenomenon of WhatsApp groups.

Unless you are still operating off a Nokia 5110, there is a 99.9% chance you are a member of a WhatsApp group or two. You may even be reading this article after it was shared in a WhatsApp group. We here at SportsJOE are big fans ourselves.

They are fun and, in many respects, have taken the online conversation away from the public sphere of Facebook and into more limited arenas – that is one reason why Facebook bought the company back in 2014.

However, from a sporting perspective, Galvin feels something is being lost by all the “smiley faces, thumbs up and virtual high fives”.

GaLvin says he has never been a fan of the app, which he feels has replaced “honest, frank, face-to-face exchanges”

“Group culture is being driven in a way that no one fully appreciates or understands. In time, some think-tank at a University should do a study on WhatsApp and its effect on team culture and mentality,” wrote Galvin.

“It took hold of the game towards the end of my career and I never got into it. It’s all smiley faces, thumbs up and virtual high fives from the couch nowadays.

“Honest, frank, face-to-face exchanges on the training ground or dressing room feel like a thing of the past. This is where team culture should be created and driven, and points made, not on an app.”

It is an interesting point of view. Has your team’s propensity for stand-up barneys under the floodlights been replaced by remote agreement in a WhatsApp group?

Have we lost the ability to argue with our team-mates constructively? Are we all getting along too well from comfort of our own sofas?

An interesting one for ye to discuss, face to face, at the clubhouse next time.