Sat | Aug 18, 2018

Paul Wright | Really getting 'involved'

Published:Tuesday | January 16, 2018 | 12:00 AM
A National Basketball League (NBL) match between Urban Knights (in white) and the Spanish Town Spartans at the National Stadium Court in 2013. The NBL is one of the sporting competitions that is considered important to curbing crime in lower income communities across Jamaica.

Since the beginning of 2018, 61 of our fellow citizens have been murdered, and the number seems to be destined to increase, unabated. We are left to wonder every day, who next?

There has been a lot of chatter, a lot of theories, even some action, but all to no avail. Death stalks the land. One commentator has reported that there are some of us who believe that, somehow, those of our murdered citizens, "did involve". There is historical data from other countries that have been through what we are going through now. We are definitely not alone. What surprises me is the fact that there seems to be no effort to 'stem the tide' using historical data.

The use of sports and sporting activities in crime hotspots seems to be one tried-and-proven method of helping in the reduction of crime. There are reports that midnight basketball in areas where there is a high incidence of gang activity (and crime) works. The arrangement of these games, competitive games, in these communities, became so popular that reported incidence of illegal activity is gradually reduced until the words 'crime-free' became factual.

 

MEANINGFUL INCENTIVES

 

This suggestion is not easy to implement. It will need, first of all, sponsors, and organisers with technical nous, and a fairly good idea of the day-to-day activities in these areas; and, of course, incentives for successful partici-pants. There has to be meaningful incentives not only for the skilled participants, but also for those whose participation, either on the court or off court, is essential for the smooth running of such a competition.

A cursory look at the reported profit margins of some of our corporate bodies will reveal that there are enough successful businesses in this small island who are able to assist. Not forced to assist, but who can, with a little persuasion, be convinced to TRY, yes, try, by financing a pilot project in one of these easily identifiable areas, where, despite tremendous odds, seem to regularly produce some of our best athletes and sportspersons.

Such a project would not only be aimed at athletes, but we must remember that there are a lot of us, with very limited athletic ability, who have other areas of competence (so far unidentified) that can be utilised in arranging and running such a competition. We just cannot afford to label every individual who lives in and/or works in these areas as 'involved'. Where we come from, or where you are domiciled, cannot and should not be used as a criterion for the denial of basic human rights.

 

UNIFICATION THROUGH SPORTS

 

We, the nation, must now be prepared to realise that we are on a very slippery road that leads, inevitably, to anarchy. Those who, by virtue of elections or appointments, to help us, have been shown to be incapable of assisting us. This is now the chance for the private sector, churches, service clubs and genuinely concerned citizens to forsake political affiliation and ACT! We are a nation in peril. For the sake of the next generation, it is our duty to DO SOMETHING! Let us never forget what sports has done in the past in unifying strangers and acquaintances. What I am suggesting will be on a much smaller scale, but can have a similar effect. Try it nuh?