HOT SPOT – To save a game
NOISES COME in all forms and fashions.
There would’ve been a certain thud as Keith Mayers’ body hit the Gymnasium floor.
Surely a sound resonated from Ricardo Yearwood banging his head against whatever inanimate object he was next to after watching video of his recent aerial assault.
Station Hill are even threatening to make a racket in defence of the indefensible.
But you know what I heard above all else?
Try the sound of Derrick Garrett taking a clear departure from the direction of basketball’s previous administration.
The sound was like chimes from the old Parliament clock built anew with a 100-foot amp; able to reach right across the entire country delivering the message that a new hour is nigh.
And the bell’s toll was unmistakeable when the new basketball president brought down the hammer like Thor to shell out six suspensions in one week, including the much-publicized life ban of Yearwood for his now infamous Jet Li impersonation.
You see, local basketball isn’t a “bad boy” sport.
It was just becoming a lenient one.
All too lenient really if you ask me, taking into consideration that the prior Carlos Moore administration handed out suspensions to all of one player – yes, just one player – for the entire 2010 season.
Just one suspension coming in a season littered with numerous reports of verbal abuse of officials by players, coaches, family and fans.
I mean, referees were being cursed during games, after games – and even before games – if the players had their powers of premonition about them that particular night.
Yet, just one suspension was given out last year, and towards the end of the season no less.
While that type of leniency might’ve been acceptable then, it just wasn’t going to be of any help in light of the Chris Browne-like beating the sport’s image has taken in recent days
Perception is greater than reality, and the prevailing view in Barbados is that basketball is rank with hooliganism after Yearwood’s televised dropkick of Mayers came right on the heels of May’s campus brawl.
The truth is the UWI Games fracas was deep-rooted in stirring feelings of nationality between Barbados and Jamaica (yes I’ve said it again Eudine) and is not a microcosm of local basketball, while Yearwood’s kick is a one-in-a-lifetime event that will probably never happen again.
But that’s not what the public sees.
No, they see a terribly violent act which represents the state of the sport and society.
What Garrett saw was an opportunity to send a very loud message.
Was the life ban excessive? Probably.
Was it necessary? Yes.
From Salt to Rev. Errington Massiah, everyone has a view on “the dropkick”.
That’s because everyone has seen the offence, as it was so well broadcast that it showed on CBC nearly as frequently as Days Of Our Lives before it went viral on both YouTube and Facebook.
And trust me when I say almost everyone has condemned both the kick and the man.
So why risk having the sport condemned too?
It would’ve been the certain outcome had anything else but a life ban been shelled out.
You might say that punishment might not fit the crime, but neither did Yearwood’s assault suit the situation, which arose in reaction to a simple elbow from Mayers.
Imagine if a dropkick was the customary response to players getting elbowed how fast the Barbados Amateur Basketball Association would double as this country’s second judo federation.
Others might argue the stiff penalty only came about because of the national coverage the incident received, reasoning it wasn’t Yearwood’s fault it spread like wildfire across the social media.
But what else do you expect when you dropkick someone directly in front of a camera which sole purpose is to record footage for islandwide consumption?
Should he have been shown leniency as a first-time offender?
I’ll pass on that idea to judge Randall Worrell when first-time murderers come in front him for trial and see how that goes.
No matter how you break it down, a loud message had to be sent.
But I’m certain I don’t have to tell this to Garrett.
Those aren’t arguments he hasn’t heard – and he’s probably tired shouting above all that noise already.