The Monday After: The ugly side of the game

Footballer Marvin Sordell quit the sport after suffering mental health issues caused by bullying and racism. Is it time to address the levels of abuse in sport? (PHOTO: Burton Albion)


Earlier this week, footballer Marvin Sordell hung up his boots at the young age of 28 after suffering mental health issues, related to racism, bullying and generally unpleasant behaviour.

Sordell played for the GB men’s football team in the 2012 Olympic Games in London and was considered to be a rising star of the game at that point as he showcased his talents.

Now, seven years on, he’s had enough and is now concentrating his efforts to help those that have suffered in a similar fashion in football.

In his statement he posted on Twitter, he referred to the “ugly side of the game” where these incidents had an affect on him and it’s arguable to say in 2019, it’s probably much harder to be a sportsman or sportswoman than it’s ever been.

I don’t mean in their field of expertise specifically, but more the pressure that can carry and the exposure to the online community, who can be brutally cruel.

We’ve all had a blast on social media at players in the past for one thing or another.  Referees in particular get it really bad on game nights if results or certain key incidents.  Having spoken to a lot of the refs, they take it with a pinch of salt.

It’s easy to vent our frustrations on platforms such as these as we’re about to embark on a new season, maybe it’s time we took stock of our attitudes and channelled that into support instead of abuse.

To be clear, I’m not labelling everyone with the same brush here and know there are many who do that very thing, but there are those quick to turn the tables on opposing teams or rivals.

Sordell didn’t mention any specifics about how he was referring to, whether it was fans, his own team-mates, the staff he worked under so-called “fans” or even people in the street, but over time, it obviously got to him to lead him to this decision.

Ice hockey players are a resolute bunch, but I remember Ben Bowns on a video for Cardiff Devils as part of an anti-bullying drive, recalling a story about getting abuse outside the Viola Arena after a game one night, only for it to happen again a couple of weeks later, after the video after another game.

If I’ve learned anything doing this job, it’s to stop for a beat and consider how your post may be perceived.

If you think getting so angry to the point where you’re abusing players, officials or your rival fans is at the centre of your “support”, you might want to take yourself away from the game and think again.

Marvin’s decision is an indictment of how a player, who can have the world at his feet, can be so ground down by it all, that he stops enjoying it and to a point, resents football.

There are people on the other end of such comments or shouts from the stands and in an age where more and more sportspeople are now knowingly affected by what they’ve read or heard, then it’s time to think about it.

Sadly too many laugh it off as ‘banter’, a word too often used to justify unacceptable and abusive behaviour.

We all want to see these guys perform night in, night out, but they’re human.  They’ll have off nights, just as we do in our own working lives.  Would you like it if Bowns slaughtered you for having a nightmare of a shift?  I don’t think so.

People need to wake up to this soon and get the message that those players are there to play and enjoy the game.  So give them a break.

Martin St Pierre was one of two signings this week that wowed Elite League fans (PHOTO: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)


Just when Glasgow Clan had wowed the league with the signing of KHL forward Chad Rau, along came Sheffield Steelers a couple of days later with Martin St Pierre.

These are top notch players coming to the Elite League and reasons, certainly for these two sets of fans, to get excited for the new season.

The recruitment drives certainly took a twist this week with the additions of these two high calibre players and if anything, they’re shots across the bough at the rest of the league.

Cardiff Devils have a lot of their tried and trusted serial winners returning for the new campaign, while Belfast, while undergoing something of a renovation of their roster, are still showing they’ll have the players to do a good job when it comes to defending their title.

The compete level has certainly been increased a tad with these arrivals as the new season comes at us fast.

Sheffield Steeldogs and Hull Pirates are expected to battle for the NIHL National title this season, but Leeds Chiefs are added to what will be a hotbed of rivalry in the area (PHOTO: Yorkshire Post)


When I saw the fixtures for the NIHL National on Saturday, that opening game between Sheffield Steeldogs and Leeds Chiefs certainly leapt out straight away.

With Leeds the new boys on the block, is it a baptism of fire against a team as successful as the Steeldogs or is it a chance to make Yorkshire something of a battle ground, with Hull Pirates in there as well?

From the reaction we saw from fans on our own social media channels, Chiefs fans are already excited for that one and with no home games until November at the earliest, it’s a chance for Sam Zajac’s team to upset some of their more established rivals.

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