EDITORIAL: Kicking out violence
Barbadians are justifiably concerned over the recent outbreak of violence at a football match causing the death of one person and serious injury to others.
Not only did it tend to spoil the merriment of the Yuletide season, it also brought back to mind the fact that for far too long violence, often gratuitous in nature, has come to be associated with the game.
Football is admittedly the most popular mass sport in the world, but at the same time it is a game that has far too often been tainted by hooliganism and violence by supporters and followers in other parts of the world.
We are, for example, very familiar with the label “lager louts”, which has been attached to the outrageous activities of football fans in Britain, many of whom use excessive intake of beer and other alcoholic beverages as a cloak for triggering violent behaviour directed at supporters of rival teams and often innocent bystanders.
But because violence at football carries an international dimension, it does not mean that we should tolerate it on the grounds that it occurs elsewhere too and therefore there is no need for us to be unduly concerned. On the contrary, we need to undertake a national initiative to stamp out this form of disagreeable and dangerous behaviour as soon as possible.
The harsh truth is that the indiscipline and lack of respect for authority that plague football are in some ways an extension of the values that unfortunately permeate the segments of society from which Barbados now draws its football players, as against what obtained in the past. In that social environment, violence and other deviant behaviours are widely regarded as a norm to which the rest of society should become accustomed.
But we refuse to bow to the rising tide of appealing to and accepting the lowest common denominator. Instead, the society needs to take a determined stand, which we believe should be led by the Barbados Football Association (BFA), under whose auspices these football tournaments must be held for them to be valid.
The BFA, which, fortuitously, is headed by Minister of Education and Human Resources Ronald Jones, should use all of its regional and international clout to devise and implement restraining strategies and programmes as a matter of urgency.
Meanwhile, Jones should use his access to the schools and other influential institutions to change this negative aspect of our human resources through educational and other specially targeted programmes.