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Letter of the Day: Sportspersons need culture shock training

Published:Wednesday | January 13, 2016 | 12:00 AM


Cricket lovers have come to expect explosive batting performances from the former West Indies captain, Christopher Henry Gayle. Such was the case recently when Chris scored 41 runs off just 15 deliveries for the Melbourne Renegades in the Australian T20 Big Bash League.

With regard to his ill-timed comments to Mel McLaughlin in a mid-game interview, it's only fair to say that Chris totally misjudged the delivery of Mel and played the wrong stroke.

As a country, we need to ensure that our athletes and sporting ambassadors are culturally competent. The notion of being culturally competent speaks to one having an understanding of and appreciation for another man's way of life.

Cultural competence is a required skill for all Jamaican athletes competing internationally. Our athletes need to understand the idiom, 'When in Rome, do as the Romans do'. Many Jamaicans have simply seen the comments as a joke, however, our sporting superstars operate in a global village.

Even in our pluralistic society, some of Jamaica's cultural practices are frowned upon by different countries. Evidently, Chris seems to have not realised that he committed a cultural sin on live television. His comments were a classic case of 'What is joke to you is death to me'.

It should be the target of our local sporting authorities to develop and implement a cultural competency training programmes for all sporting disciples. This would ensure that our athletes' decorum is of the highest standard. TV and YouTube, while instrumental, can't be the only source of information for our sporting practitioners on international cultural practices.




I would also encourage our local athletes to be proactive in seeking the necessary support and coaching in developing their cultural competency skills. We may not have the funds to implement a comprehensive programme in Jamaica, but athletes should, at the very least, be exposed to a cultural briefing session once they are going to represent Jamaica.

I don't wish to overkill the subject, but another area of focus is the interview skill of some of our athletes. I must admit that largely, I have seen better interviews in recent times.

Sports is too important a sector for us to turn our back on these key issues. Our athletes must be trained to understand and recognise that the dance at home is often different from the one abroad, and this does not mean one is a 'sellout', but a true ambassador with the ability to assimilate (flex) in different environments while proudly elevating Brand Jamaica.


Training Development Specialist