David Holdsworth: The Olympics showed us how far football has lost its way...
Many column inches have been written in recent days deriding footballers and celebrating the conduct shown by our Olympic stars and I have read it all with a lot of interest.
I have a lot admiration for how Great Britain's team performed in the Olympic Games and they are all a real credit to the sports they play. They have been dedicated, trained hard and performed when it mattered and all for the love of the sport – there were no win bonuses for them.
On the other side of it footballers have lost their way. Blame it on the media, blame it on the money, but in simple terms it is just a complete lack of respect and breakdown of discipline that has brought about this situation.
I've noticed it over the last few years and how much of a stark contrast life at a club is compared to when I was a trainee. When I was learning how to play the game at Watford I was also being taught the importance of a code of conduct – how to approach the world as a footballer.
Key to all of this was the discipline that was impressed on me by Graham Taylor. He was a great person to work under and you knew from him what was right and what was wrong. It was the same during my time at Sheffield United. Howard Kendall treated you with discipline and respect, it did not matter if you were in the reserves or the top earner, you were all treated the same. It made you aware of how to act and treat others.
In my time with United we did go out, we did celebrate success, but we did so at the right time. I have also enjoyed some frolics with the Wimbledon boys, but you stuck together and looked out for each other. These days footballers don't do that and they seem to be oblivious to how their actions are seen. Mr Joe Public is very fed up with seeing footballers live without boundaries and get away with it.
It is the getting away with it part that has been the biggest problem. If players cannot be self-disciplined then the managers and the authorities need to act. The Football Association needs to get tough and I felt they were right in the punishment they delivered to Joey Barton at the end of last season. Managers need to be tougher though. I think that football is suffering because some of these players are not being responsible.
Mario Balotelli is a case in point. You look at his antics and you wonder how much more could come from him if he was more disciplined.
Discipline is a big thing to me in and outside of football.
When I arrived at Lincoln I have made it clear how shocked I was with the attitude of some of the players. It did not help us on the pitch or the club's reputation off it. Now there is a lot more respect.
On the other side of it, football is not helped by some of the actions of those who follow it.
Supporters are understandably passionate, but it is upsetting when that passion goes in the wrong direction. From swearing and abusive language on the terraces to some very hateful facebook pages, the respect in the game is not there like it was. It needs to be addressed, but it is down to people in authority.
The managers, the Professional Footballers' Association, the FA and even parents with young children making their first steps in football, they must start drilling that respect back.