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HOT SPOT – No room for violence

Sherrylyn A. Toppin

HOT SPOT – No room for violence

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IN?A?SOCIETY of increasing lawlessness and disregard for the rules, a tough and unbending stance must be taken on the instances of violence and fighting during sporting activities.
In the last two months alone, there was brawling at the UWI Games, Ricardo Yearwood was caught on camera for the world to see jump-kicking Keith Mayers at a local basketball game, and two cricketers fought after a Sagicor General Cup match last Sunday at a City ground.
No doubt, there are other instances which were never reported or have been swept under the carpet.
There is simply no justification for any of these actions.
It doesn’t matter how you spin it, whose friend you are or which club you support, fighting has no place in sport.
Sport and discipline go hand-in-hand. The home, school and club were traditionally the places where discipline was taught and enforced in Barbadian society through a set of written and unwritten rules, but all three have come up lacking.
By the time some people get involved in sporting activity, their attitudes have already been set. Often, it takes a very traumatic or life-changing incident to put them on a different path.
Now, as early as the primary school level, we are seeing disrespect for the rules and officials.
At the start of every season, clubs and community groups need to set the tone for their members, reminding them of the penalties for bringing the club and the sport into disrepute.
The officials are the enforcers of the rules and they are the ones who need to set the parameters within which players must operate on the field of play.
So they shouldn’t hesitate to blow the whistle and caution a team or player – even if the fans are booing or jeering in the crowd. It is not a popularity contest.
When teams and players appear before the disciplinary committee, it is a toss-up what the outcome will be. Barbados is a small country and everyone knows someone who knows someone.
Depending on whether you are liked or not, or if you are a popular, talented player with potential, you may get a slap on the wrist or a “death sentence”.
So we could have an instance where a team are banned for one game for walking off the court, while the coach who pulled that team off the court gets banned for five years.
When players are fined or banned for infringements in international sports, the outcome is always made public. The same should be done here for cases which go to the local disciplinary committees.
Part of the punishment is the embarrassment and public censure, which should be an incentive to avoid making the same mistake.
It also puts the actions of the disciplinary committee under scrutiny so they have to be fair and appear to the fair to everyone.
One club in Barbados refused to ban a player because of his/her stature in the sport. Needless to say, that individual is literally paying the price today.
Each sport has a clearly articulated code of ethics and rules under which it must operate, often handed down by the world governing body. Everyone associated with the sport should be aware of those rules which are revised periodically.
The punishment must fit the crime, with the appropriate adjustments made for mitigating circumstances.
Ultimately, the enforcement of discipline in sport has to start at an even higher level.
The Barbados Olympic Association and the National Sports Council control the purse strings for all sports in Barbados and are sometimes called upon to mediate disputes.
If sporting bodies can’t or won’t control their members, hit them where it hurts most and withhold the funding until they clean up their act.