Fri | Oct 19, 2018

Paul Wright | A different year

Published:Tuesday | January 9, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Fans packed into the George Headley Stand at Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica to watch the West Indies in a limited overs cricket match.

That message that 2018 is a 'different' year, not a 'new' year was relayed to listeners on a radio programme at the beginning of the year.

How true! In sports, West Indians and Jamaicans, are all hoping that 2018 will be a different year. But will it be? Can it be? The prospect of improvement does not, at this point, seem realistic. The same administrators and selectors are still in place for all the major sports. As a wise person once said, to keep doing the same thing and expect a different result is a sure sign of madness.

Cricket, football, netball, and track and field all need improved results when compared with 2017. We have talked about resources, lack of infrastructure, poor nutrition and medical input in pre-participation and during competition, lack of proper playing surfaces, and an appalling lack of concern for our young who, despite revealing obvious talent at an early age, are exploited, overworked, and bought and sold as adults use and abuse them in a desperate effort to win at all costs - to no avail.

What is the answer? What can we (the fans and supporters) do to make 2018 a different year? All that is needed is for us to stop being angry, embarrassed and disgruntled fans and begin to do something to change the status quo. That is not as easy as it sounds.

In cricket, a new administration took over, with the West Indies players in open revolt against it. The group, through the West Indies Players Association, essentially settled some of the burning issues, and money earned by the association was channelled more to the up-and-coming players than to the stalwarts who performed. This apparently did not go down too well with some of the players.

An arrogant board, believing that they did a wonderful job, sought the approval of the fans, Governments and supporters. That did not materialise, to the dismay of the group. A course of bad mind and vengeance followed with the result: complete embarrassment and humiliation on the pitch, while the architects make cute remarks and (apparently) decided to continue on the same losing pathway, safe in the knowledge that they cannot be removed as the method of selecting a president and board members guarantees their corporate immortality.

 

NO EASY PATH

 

There is no clear and easy path to changing the status quo of our major sports. The only weapon available to unhappy and disgruntled sport fans is to withdraw financial support of the team/group that offends. Boycott sponsors' products, keep the stands empty during international competition while supporting local games, with attendance and purchase of memorabilia (jerseys, umbrellas, cups, et cetera) until the message is received and understood, and change occurs at the top.

With the arrival of new (and different) men and women, who have very little interest in trips, per diem and press conferences, no easily bruised egos, and a genuine desire to have the best available player selected, whether they are outspoken or not, but committed to the sport and the country. Then - and only then - will 2018 be a different year. We can do it. Our athletes have proven time after time that they are world-class. Just give them a chance! Select them, support them, respect them, and listen when they complain or have issues with the direction of the sport. "Vengeance is mine," saith the Lord. Vengeance has no place in the administration of sports.