Do gifted athletes have an obligation to realise talent?

YES Dedication is least the paying public deserve, argues James Goldman

WE’VE ALL got our sporting hero. Be it the guy who runs the 100m in the time it takes to type Usain Bolt’s name into YouTube, or the former sheet metal worker who became a 14-time world champion by dint of being able to hurl a tungsten point into a cork board with unrelenting accuracy.

Whatever sets your sporting pulse racing, without these men, and indeed women, who go that extra yard to extract every ounce of God-given talent in an effort to reach perfection, sport would be humdrum, run of the mill, just another form of bland entertainment filling the space between adverts on commercial television.

We don’t necessarily ask our sports personalities to sacrifice everything so that they become devoid of personality and stripped of character. But a high level of dedication is the least we hope for in return for the time and money we as fans invest in following our passions.

With the cost of attending the top sporting events continuing to rise out of proportion with most other forms of entertainment – only two weeks ago Uefa was heavily criticised for increasing the cost of tickets for this year’s Champions League final to more than £150 – it is reasonable to expect more bang for our buck.

True, the cynic in us may revel in the story of the fallen hero or the disgraced star, but the real joy of following sport comes from celebrating the achievers, rather than deriding those who fell by the wayside.

That is why Ryan Giggs is held in such high esteem for having maintained a career at the highest level for two decades, while Lee Sharpe, a footballer of comparable talent, afforded the same environment to thrive in and opportunities as Giggs, has long since slipped from the British public’s sporting conscience and was last seen scrambling for attention on Celebrity Love Island with Abi Titmuss.

NO Deep flaws are the flipside to plenty of geniuses, says Frank Dalleres