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Dalton Myers | Talk is cheap in sports administration

Published:Saturday | July 6, 2019 | 12:00 AM
JFF president Michael Ricketts
JAAA president Dr Warren Blake.

If you follow the local mainstream media, inevitably, you will hear news about a national sport association in Jamaica that creates uproar, including suggestions that an executive is corrupt, inept or just needs to go, or just that the people have lost faith in whoever is at the helm at the time. In some instances, the verbal attack on administrators of our national sporting associations can be vociferous.

This year alone, we have heard harsh criticisms of the current Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) administration, the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), and Table Tennis Jamaica to name a few. I won’t debate whether or not any sporting organisation in Jamaica, is currently doing a good job. I leave you to be the judge of that. The truth is, talk is cheap, and that, in and of itself, cannot and will not change sport administration in Jamaica or in any global sporting organisation. I will go further to state that in most of these cases, the various talk-show programmes and the discussions over the airwaves don’t bother most sport administrators to the point of resignation, and neither will they force most constituents to make a change.

This is primarily because sports politics, like representational politics in Jamaica, does not necessarily depend on the good or bad or the success or failure of the leader in determining who should be at the helm. It generally boils down to which individual can convince their constituency that he/she is the right person (not necessarily the most competent) to lead. Whether that should be the case or not can be debated in another column.

sports governance

In other instances, constitutionally, the president can only come from members of the incumbent board. So if you have a board that is not performing, the voters must still choose a leader from that group. A candidate may need to convince only seven persons in order to become the leader, and if there are more than two persons in the race, it may be less. That is the nature of sports governance. Many argue that there needs to be a change in the constitutions of these national sporting bodies to allow for more persons to vote and have a say in the democratic process.

The challenge with that is determining what a suitable number is and who should be added. Even more complicated is actually changing the constitution itself as most constitutions will ask for an absolute majority (75 per cent or above) to be able to meet the established requirements. If the members are satisfied with what they are getting, then that constitution will outlive the Constitution of Jamaica with no amendment.

Honestly, we talk a lot and do too little to effect change. Some persons even remain silent when they are receiving the benefits like free tickets to events, trips overseas, or gaining access to the ‘inner circle’. The truth is, most of us are complicit in one way or another by action or inaction and probably need to do some introspection.

During that introspection, we need to look at solutions, and these include understanding the constitutions of the sporting associations that we want to contribute towards. You have to remember that like in representational politics, heads of sporting associations are accountable to their constituents, who voted them in. You may also feel that they have a responsibility to the average fan because fans are stakeholders or taxpayers. That may be so, but the easiest way to get the associations to be responsive is to get to the people who vote.

I sense that there is a frustration with and within many sporting organisations, and with elections scheduled for Netball Jamaica, JAAA and JFF over the next 18 months, maybe now is the time to start thinking about what contribution you can make. Think about volunteering or creating spaces in which you can contribute towards player development, facility maintenance, or sports governance. It makes no sense staying afar and just talking; that will never change anything. I, too, believe that we need some radical shifts in sport administration in Jamaica. We need to engage the youth more, but I also believe that sports politics is sometimes even more ferocious than representational politics by nature, so you have to bear that in mind.

Dalton Myers is a sports consultant and administrator. Email feedback to daltonsmyers@gmail.com or tweet @daltonsmyers.