Why Wayne Rooney's boxing KO really should be condemned
We don’t like to be killjoys. Really, we don’t.
Premier League footballers are young men with lots of time and even more money. They’re going to do stuff, much of it fairly stupid.
So we should probably take a fairly tolerant view of footballers’ off-field antics.
We’re talking about incidents in which no laws are broken, and there are no victims other than Mario Balotelli’s landlord’s tiling.
On the surface, Wayne Rooney’s pugilistic mishap seems like one of those. An impromptu bout between two consenting adults in expensive gloves – and the only person who got hurt was the guy who decided to stage a boxing match in his kitchen.
We’d love to be indulgent and write this off as boisterous enthusiasm. But we can’t.
Rooney was guilty of skyscraping stupidity – this much is clear.
To consent to an activity in which two people try to punch each other’s lights out; to do so on a slippy kitchen floor while wearing socks; to make a ‘ring’ small enough that his head came to rest underneath a hard and pointy-looking chair – and above all, to allow someone to film the episode.
It hardly seems like Rooney’s brain was firing on all synapses – and that’s before the incident. It clearly is not the sort of thing you want from a captain of club and country.
But you don’t have to look to far for evidence that leadership quality on the pitch does not always come with sound decision-making off it.
However this it wasn’t just idiocy – it was also gross irresponsibility.
It’s hardly conclusive from the footage, but Rooney certainly appeared to be knocked out cold.
And it’s entirely possible that he played against Sunderland the following Saturday while still suffering the after-effects of a concussion.
The fact he scored twice (one a diving header) does not prove he was fit to play.
The F1 driver Fernando Alonso missed Sunday’s Australian GP despite getting a clean bill of health, just because of the risk of suffering two concussions in quick succession.
The Sun’s report suggests United and England knew nothing about the incident – if Rooney did indeed return to playing without getting the injury assessed, he not only endangered his own health but did a major disservice to an employer that pays him a reported £300,000 a week and the fans who fund his wages.
We like to cut footballers some slack, but this time it can’t be shrugged off as ‘two mates having a laugh’...
Well, OK, maybe it can. But it shouldn’t be.
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