My heart sank when the draw for the Championship’s group stage was made. Not in terms of who we were bracketed with from a footballing perspective but instead because of the county colours involved. Not only were we paired in Group 1 with Cork but we would also be playing Louth, a team who don the same red and white strip as the Rebels.
As most regular readers of the blog will know, I’m colour-blind. While this disability – for that’s what it is – doesn’t impact me negatively in the normal course of events, for some things it can be a right pain.
Left to my own devices, my colour co-ordination where it comes to clothes, for example, can stray well beyond interesting. In addition, locating the brown ball on the snooker table used to be a repeated issue of much hilarity amongst my friends many years ago. Recently, the colour choice of a rucksack I’d bought provoked comment at home. I’d thought it was black, turns out it’s maroon.
You get the picture. Reds into greens into browns – they’re all the one to these eyes. Blues, purples and pinks – they all look lovely, I’m sure, whatever they are. What even is teal?
Where colour-blindness hits me particularly badly is at matches. If two teams are wearing – to my afflicted eyes – broadly the same colour tone on top and the same colour shorts, I’m in bother. This problem gets worse the more alike the two colours are and when the sun is shining brightly or if the game is being played under floodlights.
A team in a red top with white shorts playing a team in green and red with white shorts is a particularly egregious example of the problem I face. For the Louth game the other week what I saw was 28 players attired exactly the same, with only the goalkeepers clearly discernible. I already know it’ll be as bad again for the Cork game on Sunday.
But it’s not just Red v Green and Red: all manner of colours cause me problems. For example, it’s difficult, in particular at a distance, to tell the likes of ourselves and Galway apart.
The problem is the similarity a colour-blind person perceives in colour tones. If these aren’t obviously different – and I mean very obviously different – then colour-blind people like me won’t be able to tell two sets of players apart.
The solution is a maddeningly simple one. If one team wears a dark-coloured top, then the other should wear a light-coloured one. Same with the shorts. That’s all that’s required. Is this asking too much?
The weird thing is that this rule appears to apply some of the time – for example, when we play Kerry – but not other times. In my world, the colour clash when playing Cork – and, as I now know, Louth as well – is far worse than when we’re playing Kerry but it’s only when we play Kerry that changed strips are used.
The GAA is doing great work at the present time on inclusivity and diversity, an initiative which I heartily applaud. But, as The Brother (who suffers the same affliction) has already pointed out here on the blog, inclusivity and exclusivity can take many different forms.
When faced with a football field peopled with two teams in playing strips that look pretty much identical to us benighted creatures who suffer from colour-blindness, the GAA’s approach to this disability looks anything but inclusive.
It’s high time that the GAA recognised this as a real issue facing a minority of its supporters and did something about it. Were it to do so in time for Sunday’s game that would be perfect but what are the chances of this happening? Sadly, this colour-blind punter isn’t holding out any hopes that they will.