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OFF CENTRE: The strident drumbeat (1)


Sherwyn Walters

OFF CENTRE: The strident drumbeat (1)

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“They have failed! They did not manage.”
Sports anchor Andi Thornhill and commentating partner Cherita (still Howard?) got in their two cents’ worth several times during both the National Primary Schools Athletics Championships and the Barbados Secondary Schools Athletics Championships (BSSAC) last week.
As they had done last year as well. Pecking away like a nagging wife. Humbugging the prey like a cat with an exhausted centipede.
They were taking the authorities to task for banning drums from the National Stadium for BSSAC.
Now, some people say that these broadcasters had no right talking on the air ’bout that matter at all, since it is outside of their domain.
I am not so sure about that. Yes, I know they are there to give us continuity and colour, on the one hand, and expert comments, on the other, but that one was so close that perhaps a little leeway is in order.
But people’s concern may stem from a time when broadcasters (on air) were paragons of balance and impartiality and stuck to their roles. Now, self-expression rules.
No sense of role.
So I tune in to hear the score during an international or regional cricket match, and I butt up on three minutes of traded jibes and what this Caribbean commentator did last night – and no score, no state of the game.
Yuh see me? I certainly don’t want any chemistry teacher constantly taking time out to tell his classroom charges that it is unprofessional for a particular sports broadcaster to be doing his job in such a way as would suggest that he never saw a cliché he did not like or that he was like a mad blender, mixing metaphors with abandon, or that he would give even bad verse a bad name by the way he launches forth the lamest rhymes. Teach your chemistry, please.
In addition, somebody could argue that this assessment shows no sympathetic understanding of the sportscaster’s task.
As to the repeated digs by Andi and Cherita, I have a few other concerns. Why is it that everybody nowadays behaves as though expressing an opinion is the Holy Grail?
“I express an opinion – therefore I am” seems to be the new rendering of Descartes’ statement.
As poor René covers his ears and rolls over in his grave.
Another concern is this: to jab away at it as these two did was, to me, a kind of advantage-tekking. You see, they got the microphones for whole days and have the ears of the masses.
The people on the other side of the issue – the principals, the decision-making committee, what have you – may get a sound bite on broadcast or telecast news (which large numbers of the masses refuse to listen to) or, if they are lucky, a spot in an in-studio panel discussion on radio or television (for which the masses en got too much appetite).
So Andi and Cherita were kinda airwaves bullies, keeping company with Bill O’Reilly. You see how he snipes at his opposing guests after they are gone?
What was more galling, though, was the glib assertion that the teachers did not manage their charges well for the sports and that was why problems arose.
Everybody is now an expert about everybody else’s job (well, actually, in Barbados everybody is an expert ’bout everything). So I am often reminded of this perceptive quote: “Everything is easy to the person who does not have to do it.” Humility and empathy have been replaced today by reckless arrogance.
This is what the “experts” care not about: you apply for a job as a teacher; the authorities mostly assess your academic credentials, along with your understanding of teaching and learning and of some ologies and ogies (methodology, child psychology, pedagogy, espistemology – maybe even ontology and penology, but not demonology); and on those bases, you think, they employ you.
And then they routinely demand (without so much as a “Please” or “May I?” – Polite Percy, the NISE mascot, take note – and without an offer of hazard pay) that you leave your place of work and go and guard and nanny children in another place. So you, burnt out, feeling a bit duped, end up at the Stadium, with a bunch of now often ADHD, unruly, herdish children who, if it en enough that they exhausted you this way and that, want to damage your hearing too. And all the rest say, “Play on!” Without blinking an eye.
You see why I say a lot of Caribbean people are emotionally stunted, especially when it comes to people who are not in their F-word group (friends, family, favourites)?

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