Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Tony Becca | Paying to play

Published:Sunday | June 26, 2016 | 6:00 AM
Members of the West Indies senior men’s and women’s teams celebrate together after winning their respective finals of the ICC World Twenty20 and Women’s World Twenty20 cricket tournaments.

Professionalism is a funny thing. It means, in part, that you should be paid for what you do, and in another part, it means that you should be good, very good, at what you do in order to be paid.

Professionalism, to be paid as a professional, should not, on one hand, however, depend on results, or rather on how good one is at the time.

Professionals should be paid regardless of results, regardless of how good one is, for if one is to become good, to devote the time and the energy to become good, somebody must pay him, or her, during that time.

Paying someone to develop his skill, and in sport, for entertaining you when he has not done so, for defending your club when he has not done so, at least not successfully, is reasonable.

It is, however, somewhat like paying for something which one has not got, or has not done.

It is something like a lay-away-plan in some businesses.

Professionalism was in the news recently and it was in the news after the West Indies men's and women's teams won the ICC World Twenty20 titles in India.

Members of the women's team lamented the fact that although the two teams won the world titles, the women's cash prize was small, very small, in comparison to the men's team.

 

LEAVING THE GAME

 

Stafanie Taylor, a young lady with a good head, and in a good response to the situation, is hoping that in time things will improve for the women. Deandra Dottin, on the other hand, is saying that such a situation may lead to the women leaving the game.

Back in the 1970s, women's cricket was a growing game in Jamaica. They had a regular competition; they had a regular regional competition with Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Antigua and St Lucia; they travelled to England and India; and they played Test matches against England, India and Australia before it went dead.

Today, it is not as big, neither in Jamaica nor elsewhere in the West Indies, but the West Indies do have coaches for women's cricket, they do have a set of women cricketers on contract - that means that they are paid an annual salary to play cricket - and they do have organised tours for women.

Professional sportsmen and women have a responsibility to attract crowds to games by their skill, so that they can be paid. It stands to reason that if no money is coming in, none or very little can go out, except for investment purposes.

Women's cricket in the West Indies, in Jamaica and elsewhere, attracts few fans, certainly not enough to pay for lunch, and while the same can be said of men's cricket in the region, men's cricket gets money from its previous deeds, from its long-lasting reputation, from tours and from such things as television rights and International Cricket Council (ICC) full-member payouts from ICC tournaments.

The men's and women's teams played together during the ICC World Twenty20 in India, with the women playing before the men on most or every occasion.

 

EMPTY STANDS

 

The difference, except when the Indian women played, was that the stands were almost empty for the women's matches.

The fans only turned up for the men's matches, which usually followed the women's matches.

That is the reason for the discrepancy in the prize money, plus the standard of play by most of the women.

Too many people in this day and age of sponsorships and what have you expect to be paid for enjoying themselves, for seeing the world, for living well and for generally doing what they love to do.

Too many people cannot wait until they become good, really good, so that people want to pay to see them perform and that people will pay to see them perform, before they call themselves professionals, or see themselves as professional, before they start to behave like professionals.

Most people pay their money for excitement, for competition, or for seeing others do what they cannot do, or what they wished they could have done.

Too many people cannot wait to become professionals, professionals not like Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and all those who, apart from fulfilling a dream - try to be at their best all the time in order to entertain and thrill the fans, but those who wish to quickly reach the stage where they can relax and do nothing whatsoever.

They do not consider or remember that they must be good enough to fill out the house so that the organisers can make money with which to pay them.

 

WHO IS TO BLAME?

 

It is bad that the women received such a poor return for winning the World Twent20 Cup and for putting out such an attempt, but they cannot blame the West Indies Cricket Board for the small reward.

Whenever women's cricket attracts the crowds, somewhat like it does in India, whenever West Indies women's cricket spreads its wings and attract more players, somewhat like it used to do in the West Indies, and whenever West Indies cricket improves its skill to attracts more spectators, it will attract better prize money.

It is somewhat tough on the West Indies women. They do need money to keep on playing, but from where will the money come to do so?

It is indeed a tough situation. It is tough because of the region's economic situation, and that is a part of the region's problem.

It is certainly not the governments' responsibility to do so, and they certainly cannot afford it, at least not yet, and not for a long, long time.