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The self-destruction of a £2 million teenager and more of the week's best sportswriting

Here are some of our favourite reads from the past seven days.

“Let’s face it, it’s a rare sport that hasn’t been through an existential crisis in recent years. From athletics to cycling and tennis to Formula One, we’ve seen almost every major sport display some pretty ugly cracks as the direct and indirect result of the massive financial pressures that now dominate the global games. Corruption, doping, match-fixing, exploitation: these are what happens when everyone wants a piece of the action, when victory is so rewarding yet increasingly costly to achieve.”

– If modern sport is educating its followers in anything, it’s how to manage resources and interpret a balance sheet, writes Emma John for The Guardian.

Mayo Team The Mayo team pictured before the 2003 All-Ireland senior ladies' football championship final. Source: INPHO

“In the summer of 2003, an area which knew well the face of tragedy was haunted by it once again. While travelling from her home in Kinuary outside Westport to see two of her sisters play for Mayo against Galway in a Connacht Championship game, Aisling McGing was involved in a fatal car crash. She was just 18.”

PJ Browne of Balls.ie tells the story of unimaginable tragedy surrounding Mayo’s triumph in the All-Ireland senior ladies’ football championship in 2003.

“The players are faster and bigger than they’ve ever been before and with the amount of ball-in-play time increasing in the northern hemisphere, particularly in the Gallagher Premiership and Guinness Pro14, the amount of high-impact collisions taking place has been increasing for years. There are regular impacts occurring now that rarely occurred in the amateur era. Combine that with an increase in high tackles that the professional era and the adoption of rugby league-style defences has brought, and you have a powder keg of player safety issues.”

– Rugby’s damaging ‘us’ and ‘them’ culture on player welfare must end, writes Alex Shaw of Rugby Pass.

“The Olympic movement in Canada is one party pushing a potential bid for the 2026 Olympics in Calgary; there will be a non-binding plebiscite in November to determine if there is popular support for a bid. Canada has been a strong voice for anti-doping, but if the IOC is pushing the reinstatement of the Russian Federation, how can you speak out too strongly without wrecking your chances?”

– Going soft on Russia cripples the fight for clean sport, writes the Toronto Star’s Bruce Arthur.

Dan Byrne celebrates at the end of the game Dan Byrne of Bohemians celebrates after their FAI Cup quarter-final win over Derry City on Wednesday. Source: Lorcan Doherty/INPHO

“In many ways Bohemians were a metaphor for the Celtic Tiger, living through what seemed like a golden time, winning leagues and cups, travelling across Europe for five seasons in a row. Yet while everything appeared perfect, it wasn’t. The club, like so many others in the League of Ireland before them, were living beyond their means, caught up in a complicated property sale, €7million in debt by the time the fantasies stopped and reality bit. They were nearing their darkest hour when they saw the light, their board voting to slash their annual wage bill from €1million to €140,000. In so doing, their successful manager was lost, as was the entire first team and hopes of winning anything significant. Or so we thought.”

Garry Doyle of The Times on the Bohemians revival.

“Language is powerful in such spheres and those speaking out need to be careful for, without evidence given to relevant authorities, they have no right to so lazily flash certain sentiments about. Yet that happened as silence after the brief chatter made sure innuendo formed and prospered.”

– Women in sport have been fighting hard for parity, clearly on this occasion it didn’t suit some, writes Ewan MacKenna for Independent.ie

“Six years ago, Golf Digest profiled this inmate who grinds colored pencils to their nubs drawing meticulously detailed golf-scapes. Although Dixon has never hit a ball or even stepped foot on a course, the game hooked him when a golfing warden brought in a photograph of Augusta National’s 12th hole for the inmate to render as a favor. In the din and darkness of his stone cell, the placid composition of grass, sky, water and trees spoke to Dixon. And the endless permutations of bunkers and contours gave him a subject he could play with.”

Golf Digest’s Max Adler tells the story of Valentino Dixon, an innocent man who walked free this week after spending 27 years in prison.

“Obviously this is a breeding ground for greatness — right? Maybe not. What if I told you that the statistics suggest that just 15% of the players who play in the tournament are likely to go all the way and play for their countries at senior international level. Just 48 of all 320 players will still be in their national set-ups by the time they are adults. That’s just three players per squad.”

– Using relevant data, Stephen Finn illustrates the challenge players face when seeking to progress after representing their country at U17 level in the European Championships, which Ireland will host in 2019. 

Soccer - Barclays U21 Premier League - Everton v Liverpool - Haig Avenue George Green at Everton. Source: Nick Potts

“Green signs a two-and-a-half-year contract, receives a £45,000 signing-on fee in three instalments of £15,000, and a promising future with the Toffees beckons for the Dewsbury teenager. Four years later he is stood on railway tracks near his hometown waiting for the next train so that he can end his life, Green’s hopes of making it as a Premier League player ruined by cocaine and alcohol.”

– Former Everton player George Green opens up to the BBC’s Neil Johnston about his battle with addiction and depression.

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