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NO LAUGHING MATTER: Don’t play with the boys

Mac Fingall

NO LAUGHING MATTER: Don’t play with the boys

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When I heard that Shaquana Quintyne was selected to play cricket in the senior men’s division, my first response was “what are we doing?”
Are we helping the game of cricket? Are we helping Shaquana? Are we feminizing the men’s game?
Yes, cricket is played by both sexes, and so are football and basketball and many other sports. Should these sports be integrated competitively? Not all of them.
In sports where physical strength and size make a difference, the competitors should compete on par – men against men and women against women. And even then we must be careful to compete on par as it relates to age up to about age 18. Of course there is always the odd exception but let us deal with the norm. Normally a 14-year-old would destroy a 12-year-old in track and field competition and a 16-year-old would annihilate a 14-year-old, but an 18-year-old would be more of a challenge to a 20-year-old.
Before that time (18 years old), we have to protect the athlete from being demoralized. Being beaten badly, especially in front a large audience, can be so damaging that the athlete might run away from the sport and never compete again. I have seen it in track, football, basketball and cricket.
In team sport, it is easier to take because the pain is shared and therefore is not as traumatic but they still feel embarrassed – especially at these young ages.
I fear for Shaquana, for the ego of some fast bowler is not going to allow him to be struck to the boundary, especially in front of a cheering crowd, and he not retaliate.
I remember once at The Lodge School, a sixth form female Dominican student approached me about playing “house cricket”. She claimed that since there was no female cricket team and she was a cricketer, that she be allowed to play on her house’s boys’ team.
I advised her about the lack of wisdom in her proposal but she proclaimed that it was her right. So I gave in.
She batted at no. 3 and the fast bowler for the opposition was also the school’s strike bowler. With other members of the school team watching along with his buddies, this young man’s ego went berserk. She was struck in the chest with the second delivery and retired immediately. She never exercised that “right” again.
I have seen big strong men hurt frail little boys in football and basketball just because they fear the embarrassment of being upstaged. I have seen broken legs and broken hands all because of size and strength differences.
Once when I was on long leave, my replacement played a 13-year-old boy in the 2nd division against “hardback” men. He was knocked down and has never played cricket since. He was one of the school’s most promising batsmen.
So are we helping Shaquana? Possibly not. Possibly helping to end her career.
Are we helping the sport? Surely not the women’s game, for if this female were to get seriously hurt as I believe is quite possible, it might scare women away from the sport.
They can compete against men in table tennis, draughts, dominoes and those games where physical strength and size do not make a difference. But not cricket.
Are we feminizing the men’s game? I think so, for men will be criticized for being too harsh and cruel.
I can hear the women spectators now, “he didn’t have to bowl that fast at she”, or “he ain had to throw de ball dat hard”, or “he en had to holler at de poor girl”, or “he didn’t have to hit back the ball at she so hard, look he almost brek she hand”.
I see this Shaquana move as being detrimental, however you look at it.
I remember spending a day in maximum security with Mark Young, Alfred Harding, Howell, Buddy Brathwaite and the Bradshaw boys and I left there with two things resonating in my head.
1. All these men, except Harding, relived their deeds every day and when they reached the point just before they stabbed or shot, they would walk away. But then they would realize that in reality they didn’t. They wished they had walked away.
2. One of the Bradshaw boys said to me, “Mac, my mother always tell me about a well down dey, but I had to fall in it to know it.”
My advice to the BCA and YMPC is to seek legal advice, for these days you can be sued for just about anything.
My advice to Shaquana, “Practise with the boys but play with the girls.”
• Mac Fingall is an entertainer and retired secondary schoolteacher.