IN modern society, there is effectively a term for everything now - literally everything.
In an increasingly technological and socio-politically diverse world, every generation conforms so much to their environment that every generation has their own term to describe that generation.
Some up to date dictionaries define ‘Generation Z’ as those people born in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Generation Z are also known as the iGeneration or Post-Millennials. To be more precise, a Millennial is a person reaching young adulthood around the year 2000.
In modern society, so much now is defined by data and trends and behavioural science that reacting to those behaviours influence and dictate those trends. That’s why Generation Z have become the next big thing for so many market researchers, cultural observers and trend forecasters. They promise untold riches to marketers who can find the master key to their psyche.
Many of Generation Z do not remember a time before social media. They are said to take in information instantaneously, and then lose interest just as fast.
In an era of emoji and six-second videos, marketing and advertising executives tell their staff that if they don’t communicate in five words and a big picture, they will not reach Generation Z.
With generational study being more art than science, some demographers place Generation Z’s beginning anywhere from the early ’90s to the mid-2000s. Marketers and trend forecasters tend to slice generations into bite-size units, but a 20-year old in 2020 really does inhabit a substantially different world than a 20-year old in 2000.
And yet, despite all the generational and societal change, people are still people, teenagers are still teenagers and kids are still kids. How they view, act or behave may have changed to conform to their environment but they are still driven by the same dreams and desires of previous generations.
The 20-year-old back in 2000 also listened to the same generational stuff that the 20-year is being told now – that they never had it as good.
When the minor grade was changed from U18 in 2017, back to U17 in 2018, many of those young players – hurlers and footballers – born in 2000, never got to play on the same minor stage as their predecessors.
An U17 All-Ireland competition (Cork won the hurling, Tyrone secured the football) was run in 2017 to cater for players born in 2000, and who missed out playing U18 minor in 2018.
At least it was something. But the competition was knockout and the only guaranteed big day-out was the final in Croke Park.
Those U17 finals did have a big stage with both on the undercard of the Galway-Tipperary, and Dublin-Tyrone All-Ireland semi-finals that year. But they were played around noon, before the minor semi-final, which further diminished the profile of those U17 deciders.
Those U17 championships were also seen as developmental competitions; many teams didn’t field their strongest first 15 because they choose to leave off some of their U17s good enough to play minor (U18) in 2017.
Yet if it was just bad luck that those players born in 2000 would miss out on a significant minor campaign, they look set to miss out on an U20 championship again this year.
At least the vast majority of U20 footballers got to play this season, with the provincial championships being concluded by early March. The four All-Ireland semi-finalists – Dublin, Tyrone, Kerry and Galway – may miss out on the chance of winning an All-Ireland. But that’s only minor disappointment compared to what the majority of U20 hurlers are surely feeling now.
Nobody knows what might happen in the future. The report of the Fixture Calendar Review Task force last December strongly supported The Talent Academy Review group’s recommendation that the U17 or Minor Championships should become “tiered Celtic Challenge developmental” competitions.
Among the competition proposals was also the introduction of a tiered All-Ireland competition for U19/U20 level. Yet those ideas may now be shelved for the time being.
If the 2020 season is wiped out because of the Covid-19 pandemic, there may be a push to cater for those players who lost out in their final year in the underage grades.
A potential solution could be reverting back to U18 and U21 in 2021. Yet if there was a return to U17 and U20 in 2022, the majority of players born in 2001 and 2004 would miss out on those underage grades in 2022. So where do you draw the line?
The U20 provincial and All-Ireland hurling championships may yet be played this year, but it looks extremely unlikely.