Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Foster's Fairplay | Feedback on Bolt

Published:Tuesday | September 6, 2016 | 9:00 AM

The most heart-warming and motivational aspect of doing a weekly column is the prospect of feedback to the issues raised. Whether or not it is in support or angrily opposes, it makes little difference.

A week ago, up for comment was the post-Rio activity of the big man, Usain Bolt. The spotlight focused on his management team. The accusation is that they are being negligent in their duty to keep his private life unexposed.

In keeping with the stature and global status of the legendary athlete, the responses were copious. Permission sought and granted, some of them are recited.

Beth, a close family member, with bias never one of her sins, said: "Thanks for your article. As an institution, Bolt provides employment for a cadre of people in his retinue. Hopefully, these lawyers, financial advisers, managers, family members, spiritual advisers, whomever, can help him establish priorities and fashion complimentary public behaviour that does not jeopardise his appeal, his earning power, or his legacy. Currently, he has the capacity to generate the kind of wealth that can change lives at home and abroad."

Quoting from another response, she went on: "We Jamaicans will love Usain Bolt regardless."

She questioned that statement by saying: "This does not include this Jamaican. I see a clear distinction between achievement/contributions and character."

Pam, the former sports team manager, whose opinion on the Bolt behaviour formed the basis of the column last week, added: "Great article, well written and unbiased; did not realise you would use so much of my words (blush, blush), but that's OK as long as the message is being sent home and, hopefully, his manager will read it or hear about it.

 

CLASS AND DIGNITY

 

"Sometimes it is for the best when we recognise what 'class' really means - some may think its hoity-toity, but it's also an upbringing that you must rise above the ghetto mentality, in other words have some dignity about your behaviour and who you surround yourself with. After striving to be the best you can, then don't throw it away by being classless."

Roy, a long time friend and a former national representative, responded: "Another one of your great offerings but then again, your offerings are all great.

"Here are my comments: I have children in the age range 20-40 and I have witnessed a very significant shift in how they behave, especially with the birth and growth of social media. When I toured as a member of the Jamaica national team, senior players made it clear that we were representing our country, one of the greatest honours we would ever have. No one considered himself bigger than the sport or too big to be shut down and/or sent home - so we conducted ourselves the way we were instructed to.

"Today's superstars, for example, Usain 'The Big Man' Bolt and Chris 'World/Universe Boss' Gayle, to a lesser extent, are bigger than their management teams and are, to some extent, considered untouchable. All of this frightens me because they are ambassadors who are representing themselves, their families, their management teams, their sport and their country.

"One bad step or one step that can be twisted to seem inappropriate can cause irreparable damage."

He aligned himself to another responder, adding: "The press will be the first to assassinate his character if they see a big story in doing so. After all ... most of us know the power of 'editorial privilege'.

"I am sure Usain Bolt has two management teams, the Jamaica track and field administrators and his own management team. I consider it their responsibility to come together to shield him and protect the 'brands' that he has worked so hard to help create and promote.

"You pointed out that they are entrusted and being paid to protect his legacy for generations to come. I would like to add that his legacy is also Jamaica's legacy and for this reason, our minister responsible for sports should assemble a team to conduct a 'debrief' that would help ensure that there is no recurrence."

Foster's Fairplay gives thanks for these assessments. They encourage.

There are more to come.

- Send feedback to lauriefoster2012@gmail.com