Paul Wright | Time to step up, Skerritt
The much-anticipated fantastic ‘Summer of Sports’ has so far been very disappointing for local sport fans.
Thankfully, the recently concluded Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru, saw our national treasures garnering 17 of the 19 medals that the country won, surpassing the total of eight medals earned in 2015.
Our victories, which included Pan Am Games records in the women’s 200m, men’s discus, and women’s shot put, were complete with women’s 100m, women’s 400m, and women’s 800m gold.
These athletes have deservedly won medals for their own well-being and sense of accomplishment. But they have given a nation – thirsty for any “good news” to take us (even if temporarily) out of a national funk caused by tales of corruption in high places, the seemingly unrelenting scourge of violence against citizens and traffic woes featuring mindless, reckless, and, frankly, brazen road users who laugh at any feeble attempt at improving the daily commute of Jamaicans in our cities – something to look forward to, something to celebrate.
The Americans have used podium finishes in the Pan Am Games to highlight (and protest) injustices and wrongs being perpetrated against their fellow citizens back home. These actions of a female javelin thrower and a fencing gold medallist have evoked threats of sanction from the Games authorities, but their actions have resonated with those citizens at home who are suffering daily, knowing that even in the face of glory and reward for athletic superiority, someone cares!
As a nation, we do not expect our sport stars, or national treasures, as they really are, to step up to the plate and support their fellow suffering citizens with protest. We are all painfully aware of the treatment meted out to any athlete who dares to expose ‘bad mind’ and impropriety in their sport administrations. So as we wait for the passage of time and retirement to get a true picture of corruption in the administrations of local sports, we thank our stars for these few and precious moments of celebration that give us a smile and a reason to get up and go to work and school every day.
Stats not improving
The record total of one-day runs by the world’s best exponent of the shortened game of cricket, Christopher Henry Gayle, has done very little to mask the continued poor results of the best amalgamation of regional cricketers on the world stage.
Local statistics guru Zaheer Clarke reminds me that since he took office on March 25, 2019, the team under the leadership of president Ricky Skerritt has played 16 one-day internationals and three T20s.
We have won four, lost 13, and have two no-results. We (the West Indies) have played the second-highest number of matches of all the ICC-registered teams in that period, 19 with England being the only country that has played more – 20.
Our 13 losses are the most by any team during that period. Pakistan have lost 11 of 17 matches, and Afghanistan have lost 10 of their 12 games. Of the 12 full-member teams of the ICC, the West Indies’ win-to-loss ratio is ranked 11th, only ahead of Afghanistan. These statistics are not improving, even as the cricketing public of these islands celebrate a new and different method of administering regional cricket.
Time is not a friend of new administrators who are swept into power with the promise of ‘change for the better’. The honeymoon afforded to new leaders does not usually last very long. It is now time for Skerritt to make good on his promise from his acceptance speech in March this year.
With cricket and football also showing very worrying signs of regression in international standings, the leaders of these organisations cannot and should not expect to keep saying, “This is the best-prepared and best-talented team selected to represent us,” only to sheepishly look for others to blame when the performances fail to live up to the pre-game hype so frequently mouthed by our vanquished representatives.
Those seeking positions of power in sporting administrations are painfully aware of the lack of facilities and resources necessary to produce consistent world-class results. So in seeking to defeat and dethrone incumbents, they should have a formula to gain corporate/financial support and not ‘blame finances’ when results are poor.
We need administrators who either play or understand the nuances necessary for an athlete to reach and stay at the top, as well as the necessary connections to garner financial support for crucial aspects of the development of the sport that they are administering. We need leaders of substance, not talkers and profilers who are given the task of leading only because of longevity in positions on committees, and ‘contribution to sport in general’.
Dr Paul Wright is a sports medicine specialist and radio personality.