The downside of “Professional”

I’m not a football fan, but there’s something about the FA Cup when the roll of the dice find people who play for money meeting people who play for the love of the game. Watching Gareth Bale warm up in front of the back gardens of houses that had their number on in case he needed to ask for the ball back made me smile, and the sight of Leeds being humbled by a team they may never have otherwise heard of, and whose players earn less in a year than the the Leeds professionals do in a week of was good for the soul.

There is no doubting the skill of the professionals, honed by huge financial and technical support as they distance themselves from their amateur and semi professional brethren. They enter a different world of billionaire sponsors and owners with no connection to the community whose name identifies the club. Beautiful to watch for a short period, but in the same way as a movie. Fantasy masquerading as real life.

it’s one thing with sport, but another when the cult of the professional reaches areas that do affect the real world, such as law, management, finance and other areas where what is essentially a service for the good of all becomes accessible only to a fortunate few who can afford it. Right now, if we had only private medicine rather then the NHS what is a hugely difficult position would have long ago become impossible.

Modern professionals are too often akin to mercenaries, available for hire to the highest bidder. They do a job, and move on. Their loyalty to their profession and temporarily their sponsor, not to where they live. There are of course many exceptions, where highly trained people go to extraordinary lengths to serve their community (not least in the NHS) but they are, in my mind, an entirely difficult class of professional to those manning the corporates, in whatever field, from finance to football.

As we move slowly away from this pandemic and into continued uncertainty, I want to work with artisans, whose pride is in their work, whose connection is local, and who those they serve can identify with and relate to.

The challenges and opportunities we are moving into is not something that we can watch on screen or in a stadium. We are the players, ready or not, and I want those with the skills we need to be alongside me, not people I watch from afar who have no connection to me.

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