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Nobody's going without a fight

Published:Friday | October 24, 2014 | 10:00 AM

Nobody’s going without a fight

The West Indies cricketers’ withdrawal of their services from the Indian tour has dominated the sports headlines all over the globe – and rightly so. The implications could be monumental, and the effects of this move could be felt years down the road. Cricket historians will see this as merely another stand-off between players and the board, even though in this case they are also not happy with their own WIPA chief, Wavell Hinds. The cricket pundits in the future who will see it this way wouldn’t be wrong, but their understanding of what went on in India would not be complete if that is where their analysis stopped.

It has always been accepted that sports is a microcosm of life, and decades from now, hopefully we will see the strike by the players for what it is. What went on in India must not be seen in isolation, but as another example of sportspersons no longer prepared to be seen as puppets on a string pulled by those that govern them.

The attitude has changed. If sports stars feel they have been wronged, they are no longer going to take it sitting down. They are no longer afraid to take on administrators. As sports expands to becoming a bigger and bigger economic endeavour, and as sports personalities become more recognised, the atmosphere will become more militaristic.

Look at the case with Veronica Campbell-Brown. She would stop at nothing to clear her name. A few decades ago, she might have settled for the public warning, which might have been seen then as not such a big deal. But not in these times. Sports means too much. There is too much at stake. If it means getting a former prime minister to be part of your defence team, so be it.

Jermaine Hue has done the unthinkable: sue his national football federation. His case is unique. The set of circumstances that led up to his nine-month ban is unheard of in football’s long history, and like Veronica Campbell-Brown, maybe a few years ago, Hue would have let it go. Not now.

FIGHT TOOTH AND NAIL

Sports now is big business, and in the same way that a company CEO will fight tooth and nail to restore his reputation if he feels he has been wronged, the sportsman now is no different.

I move on. A few weeks ago, the son of John Azar was left off a national tennis team. I need not go into all the details here. Suffice it to say that Mr Azar felt that his son, widely considered to be the best 12-and-under player in Jamaica, was left off the team unfairly as there were no trials to select the team. He wouldn’t take it without a fight. He brought the matter to court, got the court to agree with him that his son’s non-selection was wrong, and the tennis federation has now been forced to backtrack and organise trials.

You want more examples of this kind? Carlton ‘Spanner’ Dennis has been the main man in charge of Santos for more than decades. Another group, led by Winston Chung Fah, has decided that Spanner is no longer the man to be the face of Santos. They organised meetings and voted in a new head.

SPANNER IS FIGHTING BACK

Spanner is having none of it. He is hitting back with his legal team, claiming that those who voted him out were acting outside of the constitution of Santos and, therefore, the new slate was illegal. This appears headed for the courts, too.

One more. Manchester High was docked six points in the daCosta Cup earlier in the season for using an ineligible player. That didn’t stop Manchester from going to the next round. It doesn’t matter. Their principal is adamant that he was wronged. He is leaving no stone unturned and has told me that he is prepared to go to any length to prove that his school was wrongly dealt with. Another court battle could be looming.

There are several other examples I could quote. All this is not mere coincidence. People in sports are now adamant that they want to be treated fairly and are prepared to pull out all the stops. When we see this as the true context, what the West Indies players did in india shouldn’t surprise us. We should almost have expected it.

n Orville Higgins is a sportscaster and talk-show host on KLAS ESPN Sports FM. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.