Taking sports seriously Sports Scope....Our Opinions
Stabroek News
February 11, 2004

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The popularity of sports cannot be disputed. One only has to visit the various venues during matches in different disciplines to realize this. However, sports is still not taken as seriously as it should by many who refuse to recognise it as anything more than regular recreation.

Such is the magnitude of the problem that even administrators, the people vested with the responsibility to promote and develop standards in their respective disciplines, show little regard for the most important party involved, the athlete.

At this time of the year when the national sports awardees are determined, there should be admiration for those who deserve the honour of winning Guyana's most prestigious sports awards.

However, in the post selection period for the Sportsman of the Year award, when one considers that the Guyana Boxing Board of Control (GBBC) nominated Howard Eastman, a European title holder ahead of Wayne `Big Truck' Braithwaite, who all Guyanese know fights for Guyana, and who successfully defended his World Boxing Council cruiserweight title two times last year, it boggles the mind. It was a stark reminder of last year when Braithwaite was not nominated by the GBBC, but from the floor.

Then there is the Guyana Football Federation, which for several years has not given an athlete (a footballer) the opportunity to win the highest sports award in the land. Football is the world's most popular sport and it attracts the largest following in Guyana apart from cricket. It is a shame the GFF chooses to restrict its players only to the football limelight.

Despite not playing much football at home last year, several of our top footballers have exhibited their skills at a high level overseas, especially in the Trinidad and Tobago professional league. So there should be no reason to exclude them from vying for the national awards.

It is our view that Randolph Jerome, the top goal scorer in the Trinidad professional league, should have been given the opportunity to win recognition from a wider sector of the population through the NSC awards.

There are other associations that have not, over the years, nominated athletes for these prestigious awards, and in some cases when associations made nominations, the process used was flawed to the extent that questions could seriously be asked of the integrity of those involved.

Another cause for concern is the criteria used for deciding who should be vested with awards.

A case in point is the Guyana Table Tennis Associ-ation's (GTTA) nominee Jody- Ann Blake, who went on to win the Junior Sportswoman award in comparison to the Guyana Squash Association's nominee for the same award, Kristina King.

Blake defeated her 13-year-old compatriot Michelle John in the girls' final of the Caribbean Table Tennis Championship, a tournament, which attracted one other participating country, Barbados.

King, on the other hand won the under-17 girls' title at the Junior Caribbean Championships and assisted her team in winning the girls' team title as well as the overall team title.

This championship attracted seven other regional teams namely Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Bahamas, Bermuda, Jamaica, Cayman Islands and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

Overall, the accomplishments of the eventual winners of the various awards, cannot be considered spectacular, a testimony to the continuing low standards Guyana's sport has been condemned to over the last decade and a half.

One could appreciate then that a tremendous amount of work is required by our administrators for significant improvement. And this could only be achieved with dedication, integrity and commitment to the development of sports.