Damage control necessary
By Andi Thornhill | Wed, May 16, 2012 - 12:00 AM
VERY OFTEN, acts committed in the heat of the moment deprive us of reason and cloud our view of the bigger picture.
It’s a scenario that is common in sporting exchanges.
And while it is human for the average individual to lose their cool in such situations, we have to accept the consequences of our actions even after it takes time to rectify the damage done to one’s image and that of the sport.
I believe there is bound to be some kind of negative fallout in respect of recent mayhem in local basketball and netball. Image more than anything else or any individual, will hurt and suffer the most.
We could possibly have a situation where spectator support can be affected as some might be concerned about whether they are leaving home to go to a volatile environment where, in light of what has transpired, it could expose them to physical or emotional harm.
It might also deter others who may not necessarily be big fans of either sport but might want to watch some games out of curiosity. If there was a door open to new supporters, it could very well be closed because of actions that are detrimental to the sport.
A vital area that would be on the minds of administrators is how widely publicized indiscipline can impact on their ability to attract private sector sponsorship for their developmental programmes.
This is quite different from what is given from a state agency such as the National Sports Council (NSC) which, under normal circumstances, might be duty-bound to give national associations an annual subvention.
Apart from having a natural social responsibility to give something back to a society that helps them to survive and thrive, companies are not obligated to donate anything to any organization, although I have often been told they do it too, for tax purposes.
To be fair, we know that the corporate sector in Barbados plays its part in this regard, but lest we forget, those coppers not only help sporting organizations but other charitable and community-based activities as well.
In essence, with so many hands reaching out for some level of funding, businesses have to be or can be selective about which projects to support.
They could choose to deny a financial request from a sporting body if they are not satisfied that a particular partnership will boost its image or for that matter sales of its products. Notwithstanding too, there are other groups waiting eagerly to associate themselves with their brand and to collect their cash.
We have to accept that something like sponsorship, especially in an economic downturn, has to be treated more than ever as a privilege than a God-given right.
It is not human, obviously in the heat of the moment in any sporting discipline, to be thinking that logically. We would be more concerned about officiating calls and so on at that stage. It is only after that we might sit and consider the consequences of our actions. Of course, by then it might be too late.
I am aware that skirmishes or disputes witnessed by journalists at some of the minor sports are either not reported, or if so, are not given the same prominence as what obtains in the treatment of mass sports.
Even from that perspective, I think a lot more seems to be expected and demanded from people in the more popular sports in terms of decorum and general behaviour.
In the overall picture, I am very sorry for these negative developments in basketball and netball because they have a history of being embroiled in controversy either on or off the court. It seems that every time they take a leap forward something happens to take them two pegs backwards.
They have created a culture that makes it easy for them to be stereotyped and for fingers to be pointed at them constantly. It is the responsibility of individuals to change this perception by doing what is necessary.
In the case of netball, for instance, the association seemed to be settling down after a fairly rocky transition of one executive to another.
There was great news recently with the Under-16 side winning the regional competition and, all things considered, the senior national team could still hold their heads up after the series in England.
But you know what? In the short term, those achievements could be forgotten and overshadowed by recent issues, and you would have to ask yourself if that is deserved. I think not.
I hope the efforts now at doing damage control in both sports will succeed.
• Andi Thornhill is an award-winning freelance sports journalist.
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