Fri | Jan 19, 2018

Letter of the Day | Costly party for athletes

Published:Monday | October 17, 2016 | 12:00 AM


The Heroes Day weekend of is a great time to revisit our heritage, our heroes and our priorities. We are sure that we want to celebrate the performance of our athletes, but it cannot be at a cost of $80 million when we are in a country which is indebted, when crime is soaring and the cost of living is rising.

The schools attended by these athletes have their own major problems which are awaiting alumni support, where available. The athletes being honoured are well on their way to earning well and sharing with their country.

We need to discuss how we recognise the variety of contributions made to our country in many different fields. A country requires a multilayered approach and we cannot promote one area to the exclusion of others. I was disturbed to see that no Musgrave Medals were going to be given this year, and wondered how that would affect the Institute of Jamaica and its work.

In our very new cultural landscape, particularly in the post-Independence period, we like to promote individuals and not institutions. Yet it is institutions that survive long after the death of the founders. When McKinley and Wint were at Calabar, there was no track as there is today for Javon Francis and young Weir and their successors to use.

Without the person G.C. Foster and the institution which is named after him, more than 3,000 coaches would not have been trained to unearth and develop the talent which abounds. Ancient societies have created institutions which will last for hundreds and thousands of years. We have great difficulty in sustaining institutions after one generation. A recent report identifies the demise of several private schools in the face of the current economic situation. This places greater pressure on an already under-resourced public educational system.

Some of us will take loans to attend parties, and I know that people must have fun. There is a feel-good mentality which sometimes threatens good sense. At best, our heritage involves people making sacrifices, sometimes delaying gratification to achieve the ultimate goals of development. With all of the pressing economic challenges, the IMF programme and all of the matters facing the country, we have to redefine our priorities, cut our cloth to fit our resources and operate in a prudent manner. Remember the grandmother with her bank rolled in a kerchief in her bosom.

Hilary Robertson-Hickling