Wed | Jan 16, 2019

Sportsman/woman of the Year: the good, bad and ugly

Published:Wednesday | January 21, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Novar McDonald, Guest Columnist

I WATCHED the RJR Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards on television last Friday night and wish, first off, to congratulate Alia Atkinson and Nicholas 'The Axeman' Walters, the two athletes who quite deservedly were chosen ahead of their other nominees.

Let me next congratulate the RJR Sports Foundation and the cadre of sponsors, with whose support it manages to maintain this very important vehicle within which to encourage our athletes to continue to excel in their respective disciplines.

That having been said, there is, however, room for constructive criticism to be offered for the improvement of organisation in the lead-up to the event, and indeed to the event itself. Mr Editor, I make these suggestions with a view to assist, not to denigrate.

The programme was too long. It taxed the patience of persons like myself who had to sit through the more than three hours of viewing, especially when that time included several extended commercial breaks.

The programme seemed taxing to me as a viewer, especially as it sat on a plateaux of appeal for most of its duration until the two winners provided a well-needed crescendo, first with a very emotionally touching presentation by Ms Atkinson and then by what we would have come to expect from 'The Axeman' - a sharp, concise and telling punch - with his inspirational message to the youth of the country.


The programme suffered, in my view, from the organisers seeming to want to cater to organisations in the sporting arena whose athletes/participants have managed any achievement in their respective sports.

While this might be desirable in a situation where there are unlimited resources, it is not necessarily so when there are limits to time availability, the need for crispness, and viewers' attention span.

I am told that the organisers use a 'request-for-recommendations' approach to the various sporting bodies in order to arrive at a working platform.

I submit that this might be one reason for the concern which I am raising, as either out of emotionalism or enlightened self-interest, these bodies are likely to nominate as many of their own as they hope might be accommodated.

I suggest that while the inclusive approach should be preserved, this should be used as a means of providing a database from which to begin to make the merit assessments using the foundation's library and archive to provide the merit benchmark.

This should not be difficult, as it must be the source from which the parent station produces its 'Year in Review' programme.


One of the dangers in using only the request-for-recommendation method is that an organisation that is short on administrative capacity could well undersell itself because it has not stored such information.

As a test of this suggestion, I look to the absence of the Jamaica table tennis team from any mention in the programme, except Kane Watson's category award.

The Jamaica table tennis team won the Division Five Team Championship in the last World Table Tennis Association Team Championships in Japan in April 2014, thus qualifying to compete in Division Four at the next biennial WTTA Team Championship in 2016. This is a format very similar to how the Davis Cup in tennis is run.

Yet, not a word was said about this last Friday.

Surely, the RJR sports library must have had a record of this. They certainly carried the reports during the tournaments. I wonder how many other sports teams have won World Championships during the year, or ever?

If this was a failing of the JTTA's administration, might not the sports library have helped to prevent this omission?

Novar P. McDonald is a human resource management consultant. Email feedback to and