One of the things that has always intrigued me about the early Greeks is their fascination for a series of gods, each one, like government ministers, with their own portfolio. Zeus, of course, was the ultimate father of them all. One curious fact about those early Greeks is that despite their fanatic love of organised games, they never had a god that was directly responsible for sports. Names like Nike, (the winged goddess of victory) and Hermes (the god of transitions and boundaries) have been gods associated with early Greek sports, but they were not directly 'responsible' for supposedly 'changing' sports results to suit the Greek people. Maybe the Greeks wanted sports to be the one thing that remained unaffected and untouched by 'divine' powers.
Christians, by and large believe in one God and we are not sure if He does answer sports prayers. If He does, I have a list of things here that I'd ask for in 2016. Here then is my open prayer:
Prayer for Reggae Boyz
Dear Lord, I pray that the Reggae Boyz do well enough this year to safely qualify for the upcoming World Cup. Maybe the immediate prayer should be, Oh Lord, please help that the JFF find enough money to pay Coach Schaefer, who might be considering his options if he can't be paid. Maybe the money that the MVP athletes are refusing from the Government could go towards Coach Schaefer's salary. Why not, Lord?
Help us as Jamaicans, Oh Lord, to accept the English-based footballers as part of us. Help us to see the discrepancy in how we reason. Our foreparents left Africa hundreds of years ago Lord, and some of us still see ourselves as Africans, so what is wrong in seeing these footballers as Jamaicans when their parents or grandparents were born here? If we can be seen as Africans when our link to Africa is so long ago, why can't a man whose parents were born in Jamaica be seen as Jamaicans? Help us, Oh Lord, to stop reasoning so emotionally.
Dear Lord, we hope our Olympic team does well in Rio. Even if there is no world record, let us continue to maintain our status as the sprint capital of the world. This might be asking a lot, Lord, but can You make Asafa Powell win an Olympic individual gold? Asafa has done a lot for the psyche of Jamaican sprinters. Don't make him end his career without winning an individual gold. It wouldn't be fair. I want Bolt to win as well, Lord, so it may be tricky, but we have had 1-2-2 before, so how about 1-1-2 in Rio! So both Asafa and Bolt sharing the 100m gold would be nice, oh Lord. We know with You, all things are possible.
We also ask, Dear Lord, that you help the West Indies to win this year's World Twenty20 tournament. We would ask that they do well in test cricket too, Lord, but we know that You will help those who help themselves, and at this point, we are not sure that the West Indies are doing enough to help themselves, so it would be unfair to ask for You to help them in the longer version, oh Lord. While we are it, help us develop the passion that we once had for this sport, oh Lord.
Prayer for netballers
We ask, dear Lord, that You also help with our netball team. We are tired of coming third and fourth, oh Lord. Maybe we should be grateful for being among the elites in the sport, but You know how humans are, Lord. After all, You created us. You know that once we are so close to being number one, we are going to want the ultimate prize. Help those who run netball, oh Lord, to remember that gender should play no part in who is involved at the coaching level.
We pray, dear Lord, that the minor sports get the recognition and assistance they deserve. I'm tired of them constantly griping that they don't have the funds to operate properly, and to be walking around cap in hand, begging a little thing here and there.
We also ask You to spare a minute to sports administrators, oh Lord. Let them not conduct elections where there are more votes than voters! Help some of them to understand that they were elected to serve and not to profile and look important. Finally, Lord, help us as journalists to carry the news fairly and accurately, to be objective in the way we relate events. Too much bramble was on the airwaves last year, oh Lord. Let us hope this year will be better. These and other mercies we humbly ask, oh Lord.
- Orville Higgins is a sports journalist at KLAS ESPN FM. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.