Awards blind spot shameful

Mike King,

Added 05 December 2012

1205bernardsealy

Shameful, shocking, stunning. This sums up the view of every right-thinking Barbadian to the horror that once more sportsmen have been left out of the National Independence Awards. Sportsmen were shut out of the awards in 2006, 2007, last year and sadly again, this year. Enough is enough. It’s an embarrassment of monumental proportions. The time has come for a serious review of the criteria that determines qualification for recognition at the National Independence Awards or entrust the selection to those who have a wider overview of the process. Every year, we champion the efforts of those in the judiciary, the medical fraternity, economists, retired public servants and businessmen. We remember entertainers every now and again, and we tend to forget the sportsmen. It is a sad reflection on this country or moreso the decision makers when year after year, those who have excelled in the field of sport are ignored. If the awards are for meritorious service or achievement, Robert Earle, Bernard “Teddy” Sealy, Tyrone Mapp and Rudy Goodridge more than fit the criteria. Tennis had a long line of white champions in the 1950s and 1960s, till the impressive Mapp changed that and ushered in a new era for the sport. Goodridge did a similar thing for squash in the 1980s with his heroics on the court for more than a decade. Sealy was a champion bodybuilder here and in the Caribbean in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He scaled the peak of the amateur ranks when he became the first and to-date the only man to win Mr Universe representing Barbados when he defeated more than 50 middleweights across the globe to triumph in France in 1989. Twenty-three years after, those who oversee the Independence awards selection process, have not seen it fit to acknowledge his achievements. Earle is reckoned by almost all and sundry to be the best table tennis player Barbados has produced. He was the spearhead of every national team in the 1970s, guiding Barbados to the coveted team title at the 1979 Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Championships. In 1980, the impressive Earle had the honour of capturing the men’s singles title at the CAC tournament, and three years later he represented Barbados at the World Cup held here at the Community College. Earle, Sealy, Mapp and Goodridge are four humble, well respected outstanding Barbadians. They are standard-bearers who have left a proud legacy and an indelible mark. They are champions on and off the court. Barbados is not the preserve of those in the medical and legal fraternity, Harrisonians and Combermerians, politicians and public servants. Masons, carpenters, painters, electricians, bus drivers, receptionists, gas station attendants, taxi-drivers, general workers, sportsmen and entertainers all contribute to making a better Barbados. They have contributed as much and sometimes more than others to nation building and it is about time we give them the recognition and respect they deserve. This was another painful reminder that sportsmen and entertainers are still viewed as second-class citizens.

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