It isn’t often I’d think of the world of rugby at the same time as the world of opera, but in one area there are distinct similarities.
In the past those playing rugby at the top of their careers were still performing at a relatively low level of stress, on their bodies, on their emotional lives, on their ‘real’ jobs and on the families.
Equally, opera singers tended to live at a much slower pace, many of them living out their working lives in one or two theatres and seldom having to travel.
No more. Both rugby players and opera singers are expected to ‘play’ for longer and longer seasons, and there are penalties on both if they don’t show up for work. Opera singers in particular are expected to travel constantly in order to perform all over the world, and often don’t get the rest that’s needed after long flights. (Even as long ago as the 60s I can remember one jet-lagged opera singer arriving for rehearsal and getting into a real tantrum that was mostly the result of tiredness.)
So it’s probably not surprising that both opera singers and rugby players are turning more and more to drugs in order to maintain their high profiles. Expect to see an increasing number of opera stars requiring drug treatment over the next few years; already it’s becoming a cause of concern. I don’t think rugby players aren’t yet known for drug problems, but it can’t be far away.
Perhaps it’ll be a good thing if the world, because of an oil crisis, has to slow down on flying players – of both sorts – hither, thither and yon. Then we might find these talented people being able to work under less pressure, without having to resort to drugs - and alcohol – to keep them at the top.