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The Perils of a Footballer’s Lifestyle

July 13, 2006

Whiskey Bottles” Troubled Rangers defender Fernando Ricksen is to check into a London clinic that helps tackle alcoholism, drug abuse, gambling and depression.”

Your playtime becomes a hobby, your hobby becomes a career, your career becomes a way of life. You start for the love of the game, but before you’ve completed puberty you’re earning thousands. Early twenties, and you’re commanding multi-million pound fees for the transfer of your services. You strive to be the best, but unlike the majority, you make it.

Suddenly, you’re at the top, and you’re surrounded by people saying how wonderful you are and paying you ridiculous amounts of money for the privilege. Through no fault of your own, you’ve become a member of the elite, cut off from the reality of bills, 9-5, queues and chores. Millions of pounds and nothing you need to spend it on, you personify the culture of excess – as much of anything you could ever want, wherever and whenever you want.

But even the elite with extraordinary talents are still human. They have failings, weaknesses and are susceptible to temptation, but just as importantly, are physically capable of withstanding the same as any Tom, Dick or Harry. If you abuse you body with substances and toxins and your mind with addictions and lies, then you are as susceptible to collapse if you are paid £4/hr or £40,000/wk.

In fact, if you have the money, you are more at risk. You frequently hear Time = Money, and like all accurate equations, the reverse is true – Money = Time. If you have the unlimited money, you have the extra time since you don’t have to spend 85% of your life concentrating on trying to pay your bills. Extra time + piles of cash = the opportunity to do all sorts of crazy things to yourself.

In terms of temperament and beliefs, there is no reason why I am more or less likely to snort myself into a coma every night than your bog standard millionaire footballer. However, if I did decide powder was the answer to my life’s problems, then it would have severe repercussions on me and my life, regardless of how it affected my body. The expenses incurred and subsequent debt, the (in)ability to do my job properly, the impact on friends and family all mean that that if I made that lifestyle choice it would quickly leave a mark.

If a footballer decides that tonight would be best filled turning his arm into a pin cushion, then he can, and with limited affects on his life. Financially, he would hardly notice, and as far as affecting his work is concerned, the impact is much less than if you were a teacher, a receptionist or a manager. There would be an impact on his friends and family, but there’s a good chance that a number of those would also be indulging in similar ways.

In the real world, the affects of alcoholism, drug abuse and gambling are profound and immediate. For a footballer, the first time reality really kick in, is when his body gives up, which is why you are so much more likely to see a Premiership footballer checking into the Priory than I am.

All of us have the same motive – it’s just they have the means and the opportunity.

~ TranceFixed

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