Only A Game? Sometime sports stars prove me wrong

Five year-old Oliver Dickey receives his new Derry City jersey from striker, Rory Patterson. Also pictured, from left, is Oliver's parents, Neil and Charlene and Derry City manager Roddy Collins. Photo: Andrew Quinn
Five year-old Oliver Dickey receives his new Derry City jersey from striker, Rory Patterson. Also pictured, from left, is Oliver's parents, Neil and Charlene and Derry City manager Roddy Collins. Photo: Andrew Quinn
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I’ve contributed my fair share of vilification of sports stars in this column but sometimes they prove me wrong.

When a sports man or woman reaches the top of their profession they are often rewarded with vast riches, fast cars and big houses.

That’s fine. If I had the same amount of money I would probably do the same and these men and women are perfectly entitled to do whatever they want with their money.

Such antics become problematic, when they abuse their position, lose their grip on reality and become immersed in what is utterly superficial existence.

I lambasted soccer player Liam Ridgewell when he substituted toilet roll for £20 notes so when a sports man or woman does something good they should be praised.

Former Liverpool player, Craig Bellamy donated £1.4m of his own money to help people in Sierra Leone and F1 legend Michael Schumacher has donated over €50m to a variety of charities including over €7 to the victims of the Asian tsunami in 2004.

A little closer to home, Derry City F.C. has been synonymous with raising money for charity down through the years and on Thursday, striker Rory Patterson welcomed little five year-old Oliver Dickey to a training session in Greysteel.

Oliver has a type of cerebral palsy called spastic diplegia and his parents are trying to raise £60,000 to take him to America where it is hoped he could have an operation that would allow him walk.

Patterson came across the ‘Help Wee Oliver Walk’ appeal on social networking site, Twitter.

Now, it’s easy to be cynical and refuse to acknowledge both Patterson’s and Derry City FC’s generosity but how many people reading this column can say they went out of their way to help someone the way Patterson and Derry City FC have little Oliver?

Others might say that this piece is utterly sycophantic and the only reason I am writing it is to keep in with the likes of Patterson and Derry City but they’d be wrong.

I don’t have children but I hope to be a father someday. Rory Patterson has a child and he said when he read about little Oliver’s situation on Twitter, he couldn’t help but think about his own child.

Patterson could have so easily, as many others have in the past done, ignored Oliver’s story and went about his business but he didn’t, he chose to do something and he helped little Oliver.

Rory Patterson might not be the world’s highest paid footballer but in my opinion, helping a little child like Oliver Dickey will always be much more important than scoring goals or winning trophies.

There can be no doubting some of the obscenities that exist in world sport.

Ahead of last weekend’s Super Bowl, boxer Floyd Mayweather was reported to have placed a $10.4m bet on the Denver Broncos. The Broncos lost.

Mayweather and everyone else for that matter is entitled to do whatever they want with their money but when the dust settles, the millions thrown away by sports men and women on needless items every single day is morally wrong.

People in positions of power and great wealth should thank their lucky stars for carving out a comfortable life and they should also try to help others. The world would be a better place, after all.