Wed | Jul 8, 2020

Olivia Rose Esperance | Sporting lessons from Bounty, Beenie

Published:Tuesday | May 26, 2020 | 12:00 AM
Dancehall legends Beenie Man (right) and Bounty Killer.
Dancehall legends Beenie Man (right) and Bounty Killer.

Many don’t know, but I enjoy several types of art, and music is no exception.

While I wouldn’t put dancehall as my favourite genre of music, I appreciate great lyrics on well-produced rhythms, delivered by talented artistes who spend time to hone their craft and become better with each performance.

There are so many parallels that athletes can learn from the Verzuz clash between Beenie Man and Bounty Killer.

1. Play to your strength

You might not be good at everything and certainly better in some areas than others. Identify the areas that you are better in, and play or create those situations that highlight your strongest talents. The clash showed both men taking advantage of their strengths and their infamous titles of being dubbed the Warlord and Ladies’ Man, respectively. If you are better at batting than bowling, ensure that you capitalise when the time comes for you to bring your A-Game.

2. Be yourself

Sometimes the arena set for you to perform in might be huge in size and expectation, but be yourself. A manufactured accent that is not typical of how you would normally speak or behave takes away from the very reason persons want to come out to see you in action. Once you have established yourself as a high-performance athlete, people will want to see you. Be the best representation of yourself while promoting your culture. Cultural brand promotion was evident from both entertainers, especially in their comments at the closing of the show.

3. Be prepared – Never underestimate your opponent

Preparation beats luck any day. Performing well in sports requires preparation. Irrespective of your declared winner of the clash, it was evident that one artiste had a more thought-out game plan than the other. The introduction of a dub on a trending rhythm was just one of the examples that illustrates this point. You will have a winning edge over your opponent when you have a plan and are adaptable even when you have done this a hundred times before.

4. Balance is key

Teams comprised individuals with similar and different personalities, and finding the perfect blend is sometimes challenging. There were times when I had to significantly adjust my own tempo and expectations during the clash based on the huge differences in their personalities and energy levels. However, there was a moment when that same difference in personality really helped in dealing with an unforeseen event during the performance. In sport and life, have a plan, but also expect the unexpected, and adjust accordingly. I am referring to the situation when the police came to do their jobs. This is a situation that could have gone south in front of almost half a million viewers but was defused based on self-awareness (one artiste removing himself) and the other reacting calmly. Trusting each other on a team and being self-aware are important in dealing with unplanned situations.

5. It’s not only all about winning

It was evident that Bounty Killer and Beenie Man knew when to put the clash on pause and press play on the collaboration button. Both veterans knew that they were a part of one team – Team Jamaica -–which was bigger than their individual brands in dancehall. The moments of free-styling and partnership were some of the best features of the clash that demonstrated their raw talent and expertise while simultaneously bringing pride to Jamaicans locally and abroad. I wished that some of the star athletes, especially in a very individual-based team sport in the Caribbean, would remember the united brand that they represent and be more collaborative in their efforts to achieve collective success.

6. Opponents can be a good source of motivation

Some might not want to openly admit that they score low on being intrinsically motivated and that sometimes, the drive to become better is based on past performances set by your opponents. In the introductions for some of the song selections, both performers alluded to being motivated to outdo the other based on the bar that the other had previously set. You can be motivated to improve your own standard based on an already established record, which can also help to fuel you opponent’s drive to succeed. Let the record be a benchmark of what you need to include or remove from your training regime to outdo your competition. Another distinguishing lesson from the clash was that times change and so, too, do people. You might end up on the same team with someone against whom you initially played as you get more professional in your sport.

7. Know when you are winning

When you have invested your time and energy engaging in continuous training, improving your performance over the years, experiencing injuries and setbacks, dealing with non-selection, watching others snatch the spotlight away from you and triumphantly regaining it, be wise! There is a special kind of victory in comeback moments, especially when you have been away from your sport for a long period and perhaps when you might have also doubted your own return. A grand re-entrance on such a huge stage is one that should be individually and culturally exploited. Get your team of experts that can recognise that the coveted title is now yours again and capitalise, capitalise, capitalise!

Olivia Rose Esperance is an applied sport psychologist at The University of the West Indies, Mona. Contact: