Sports' records
Stabroek News
February 15, 2002

In a letter [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] published in our Sunday edition Mr Emile Mervin argued that Guyana should have a National Sports Hall of Fame. There are surely few people who would disagree with him. However, there is an even more fundamental problem than the lack of a Sports Hall of Fame, and that is the lack of records concerning local sports personalities and their various sporting disciplines. Some of the local sports associations, of course, hardly have an office, let alone financial resources. However, even those which do have such resources have no organized archives and no record-keeping policy.

What that means in practice is that there can be no evolution of a local sporting tradition, because the record of past endeavours in any given sport is locked in the memory of those who are living. Once they go, however, they carry their memories with them, and each succeeding generation starts to carve out a tradition anew, ignorant of those who have gone before. How many of the present-day footballers on the field, for example, could tell you about the late Dan Harris?

Cricket is rather better off than some of the other sports, partly because it has an institutionalised base of long standing, partly because it does have financial resources at its disposal, and partly because some of Guyana's cricketers over the years have competed at an international level. That has meant that where Test sides are concerned, at least, international record-keepers in the world's most documented sport have done some of our work for us. Whether outside that framework detailed records are religiously maintained on local cricket and cricketers is less clear.

Last year the National Sports Commission wrote to the various sporting associations in the country asking for data on their facilities, their coaches and the level of coaching on offer, and the number of clubs affiliated to them. Photographs and information on current and former players were also requested. The response was disheartening. While it is not too surprising that the local associations were unable to supply details on former players, at least they should have attempted to respond in terms of their current status.

In the context of such record-keeping anarchy, the approach of the National Sports Commission is probably the right one, and that is to go for a central data bank. This would not preclude those sports' organizations which have the financial resources from maintaining their own archives. Certainly this theoretically should be possible in the case of the Guyana Football Federation and the Guyana Cricket Board, although the former appears never to have displayed any interest in systematic documentation.

A comprehensive central data bank and a record-keeping capacity, however, probably would presuppose the establishment of a National Sports Secretariat, something which Director of the National Sports Commission Neil Kumar has been advocating for some years. It is a recommendation which should be taken seriously.

Sporting heroes emerge out of conscious traditions. The problem is, as noted above, that we keep losing the tradition. With a lot of work and a relatively modest sum of money it could be reconstructed through old newspaper reports as well as clippings and memorabilia kept by former sporting personalities or their families. But first, the various associations would have to recognize the importance of records to the development of their particular discipline and be prepared to work with the National Sports Commission in the first instance, to explore the possibilities for the development of an archival policy.