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Reason vs emotion

Published:Friday | May 30, 2014 | 12:00 AM

By Orville Higgins

When I just started hosting a call-in sports programme on radio, I felt I had got the job that all my life I was being prepared for. I don't think I could have been more qualified for the job I'm now doing.

All my life, I have been a sports fanatic. As a child and as a younger man, I played most sports I came in contact with and, therefore, I have a feel for virtually everything that happens on the field. I was a voracious reader of sports literature from as far back as I can remember. For example, I must have read C.L.R. James' classic, Beyond the Boundary, about 20 times, even as a teen! I studied physical education in college, which does give me an insight into how to teach sports to youngsters.

I am a trained literature teacher, which has prepared me in no small measure to understand and analyse the written word. I was also a talk-show junkie, and after working with, and virtually hero-worshipping, Wilmot 'Motty' Perkins for about four years in the mid-1990s, I knew what my ideal job would be to discuss sports on radio. Like I said, I felt I had all the tools.

MORE OBJECTIVITY

When I started in this job, I had set myself one lofty goal: to get the average Jamaican to discuss sports on radio with a little bit more objectivity. Sports is one area where emotions can fly high, and I thought I could make a difference in getting sports lovers to talk in a rational, objective manner. A few years on, and I am not sure how close I am to achieving my own mandate.

I've gone a far way to forcing the average man to not just talk for talk's sake in discussing sports, but to actually think about what he is saying and bring some sort of intellect to the discussion. If I want to be remembered for anything, it is to force a caller to be able to substantiate his points with facts, or at least some kind of logic.

So, yes, some days, I think my aims and objectives are being met. Some days, I feel that people are now discussing sports more rationally on radio than they ever have. Some days, whether I disagree with a caller or not, I feel the discourse is engaging, not only for the cut and thrust that invariably happens between me and a caller with a different view, but for the high quality of the reasoning.

That, however, is on some days. Some other days, I get frustrated at how people reason. People say things that are so lacking in logic that it befuddles me. People say there are 'unplayable balls' in cricket. They say no footballer can be truly great until he wins a World Cup. They say a man who has won half-dozen Grand Slam tennis titles is better than a man who has won 17!

RAW EMOTIONS

They say a man was born with a particular talent for a particular sporting discipline. They say lane eight is harder to run from in the 200 metres than all the other lanes. None of this makes sense, and yet they hold on to their view with an authority and stubbornness that used to drive me crazy.

It no longer does. Now I find all this amusing. I accept that all learning doesn't follow a straight vertical path, and there will be blips and dips on the way in getting people to talk sports objectively. I now accept that no matter what, sports, like religion and politics, are areas where raw emotions will often take precedence over constructive analysis.

My job is at times difficult, but I wouldn't change it for anything in the world!

Orville Higgins is a sportscaster at KLAS ESPN Sport Radio. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.