Monday night's musical tribute to Jamaica's record-breaking athletes at the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics has drawn blistering criticism from members of the public, who felt that some simple rules of protocol were broken by athletes and performers alike.
The tribute was staged at the National Arena under the theme 'Jamaica's Musical History: Honouring an Olympic Journey'. Being asked to perform at such an event is an honour that carries with it expectations of solemn, patriotic behaviour. While many adhered to this, regrettably a few crossed the line.
As readers of this newspaper pointed out, some of the performances were anything but solemn or patriotic. Dancehall artiste Garfield 'Konshens' Spence was singled out for mention by two letter writers. Said one letter writer: "Konshens' behaviour Monday night, including his pants falling off his hips and the bedroom-focused lyrics, as well as preaching what may be considered 'hate speech', was the lowest point of the ceremony."
The flag-waving Koshens then called for Olympian Usain Bolt to be named a national hero, at which point he was gently escorted from the stage. By his demeaning performance, Konshens may have unconsciously dampened the spirit of excitement that engulfed many fans as they entered the arena that night.
Another topic of debate concerned the athletes' dress. It is obvious that the athletes were never told anything about the dress code for the event. How else could one explain the level of inappropriateness that was on display on Monday night? Many of their choices, while showing off their Olympic bodies to the maximum, completely blew out of the water all the old rules about what is appropriate dress.
It's hard to understand how after months of planning, and with a 30-member committee assigned to develop a programme of celebration, that protocol fell down so badly on Monday night. It is an appalling reflection on those who planned the programme and were charged with its execution.
There used to be a time when protocol was duly observed at all high-profile public events. Protocol is responsible for the organisation, including technical and expert tasks required to successfully stage a public event. When protocol is in place, it goes a far way in minimising awkward surprises.
In our current age, we expect that there are those who would argue that this is all much ado about nothing. That Jamaicans are passionate about sport and their sporting heroes is well understood. However, this newspaper holds the view - perhaps an old-fashioned one - that the rules of decorum are relevant in any age. Our athletes are symbols of inspiration both on and off the field of competition.
It cannot be right for the principles of good taste to be shredded before the eyes of the prime minister and other leaders of our country. The committee responsible for planning this salute to the athletes should apologise to the nation.
But beyond that, this country needs a cultural shift that will ensure that persons in responsibility adopt zero tolerance to protocol breaches and bad behaviour. Nothing will change if we continue to pander and be tolerant of those who feel they should flaunt the rules of decency.
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