LOOK at these faces, stare into those eyes.
See the almost pained intensity, the vulnerable honesty that says ‘this is my life’, a life of total dedication, a life without compromise but still with a whiff of fear that it might all go wrong.
Jessica Ennis this summer will have chance to claim her Olympic crown and seal her place among Britain’s greatest ever athletes.
Awad Barry aka Kid Galahad, grew up under the shadow of gang violence and drugs in Upperthorpe. His two brothers are in prison, one of his friends is dead.
Next week he fights for an international boxing title in Rotherham and in the days leading to the event he shares a look of self-belief and desire with Jess Ennis.
Compare those eyes to the passing TV flicker of the shifty-eyed and gutless downward glance of Luis Suarez who couldn’t bring himself to look at the man he had racially abused as he tentatively offered the hand of reconciliation before the Manchester United v Liverpool game on Saturday.
I know we’re all sick of it now and can’t they just let it drop for heaven’s sake but despite the apologies and the owner-induced back-tracking of Sunday Liverpool and Kenny Dalglish backed their man and themselves into a no-win corner.
The tacky t-shirts backing Suarez, the protestations of unrevealed evidence and insinuation of behind the scenes chicanery.
They accused Evra of lying, the Premier League of victimisation and the barrister running the independent inquiry of bias.
There’s an opposition fans’ song doing the rounds now about Liverpool that goes: “It’s never your fault, always the victims, it’s never your fault.”
That’s too harsh for a club that had to suffer the terrible tragedy and protracted trauma of the Hillsborough disaster but it is where this affair has put the club in popular perception.
A club that has won 18 Championships and five European Cups under men like Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley.
A club that today has to start winning back the reputation it should never have lost.
Any trainee press officer in his first week at a football club should have known from the outset that Liverpool had to find a form of words that distanced the club from Suarez’s alleged actions but supported their player until he was proved guilty.
Having lost the case they should have taken the tribunal’s decision and added a club fine or further suspension, not moaned and niggled like surly teenagers.
Football has long been the outrageous but irresistible rogue of the sporting world, overblown, full of it’s own importance, arrogant and insensitive to all but its own needs and desires.
Brilliant, exhilarating and without peer as an expression of our individual and collective loyalties, football is society’s chosen but wayward son.
Millions of us have been in love with it since we could walk.
But sometimes elements within it just make you sick.
We take the diving, the tantrums, referee abuse and gang warfare mentality most weeks and learn to live with it because we cannot resist the game’s appeal.
But there will be a limit.
There will come a time when we turn our backs on the fading beauty of the game and instead look for our sporting hope in the eyes of youngsters like Jessica Ennis and Awad Barry.