New Study Examines the Impact of Covid-19 on Gaelic Games in Ireland during the first lockdown

Feb 08 2021 Posted: 12:58 GMT

A new study of the impact of Covid-19 on Gaelic games in Ireland during the first lockdown has been published by NUI Galway academic Dr Seán Crosson and Dr Marcus Free, lecturer with Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick.

The study, entitled ‘“This Too Shall Pass”: Gaelic Games, Irish Media, and the Covid-19 Lockdown in Ireland’, is included in a new collection, Time Out: National Perspectives on Sport and the Covid-19 Lockdown which examines the impact of Covid-19 on sport across a broad range of themes.

The collection is the first major academic engagement with the topic and includes contributions from practitioners and international scholars. It provides a comprehensive overview of the immediate consequences of the Covid-19 lockdown on local and national sport in a broad range of contexts.

Focusing on the period from 12 March, 2020, when the Irish government announced initial Covid-19 restrictions (followed shortly thereafter by the suspension of Gaelic games fixtures,) to 10 May (the broadcast date of the first 2020 episode of RTÉ’s “The Sunday Game”), Dr Crosson’s and Dr  Free’s contribution examines Covid-19’s impact through an analysis of the media discourses surrounding these sports.

As with other sports internationally, the gaps in sports media programming left by the absence of fixtures were filled with retrospective items focusing on classic moments and players from the past. Apart from retrospection, the authors identify two prominent themes that dominated Gaelic games coverage in this time period.

Firstly, there was a recurring focus on the serious impact on the GAA, its athletes, and national sports-media of the cancellation of its elite and local level events over its peak Spring-Summer season. However, a second major theme was the GAA’s key role in responding to the crisis and in articulating a discourse of overcoming, both in terms of the Association’s challenges and wider Irish society.

Dr Seán Crosson from NUI Galway's Huston School of Film and Digital Media and leader of the Sport and Exercise Research Group in the Moore Institute, said: “As amateur sports that dominate the Irish sporting calendar each year, typically attracting the largest attendances and occupying a key role within communities, Gaelic games provide a unique focus in a collection such as this.

“The pandemic has highlighted the importance of sports’ organisations and sport media in facilitating and encouraging responses at local and national level to the challenges Covid-19 has brought. In the Irish context, the rhetoric of shared sacrifice and collective discipline that was evident during the early months of the Covid-19 crisis signifies the GAA’s unique role as an amateur organization touching every part of Irish society through its players’, administrators’, volunteers’, and supporters’, family and social connections."

The collection was edited by Jörg Krieger, April Henning, Paul Dimeo, and Lindsay Parks Pieper, and published by leading international academic publisher Common Ground,

Further information on the collection and Dr Crosson’s and Dr Free’s chapter is available at the following link where copies of the book can also be purchased:


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