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A THORNY ISSUE: Too many divisions in sport


ANDI THORNHILL, [email protected]

A THORNY ISSUE: Too many divisions in sport

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The conversation about the injured Sada Williams went from the objective to the malicious.

Sadly, since Williams returned from the World Youth Games in Poland, the focus seemed to be on a member of the medical team and whether she was the right person to be there to deal with injuries.

It was a ridiculous notion, considering that individual has been associated with national teams in that capacityfor donkey’s years, and, quite frankly, this is the first time I’ve heard of any attempt to cast her in a negative light.

The fact that the promising Williams got injured was bad enough, but it was worse to hear comments that were very unfavourable to a particular member of the medical team, especially when there were no facts to substantiate what was being insinuated. Speculation doesn’t cut it.

Misfortune

Everyone must have been saddened to hear of Williams’ misfortune and the fact that she was going to miss the Olympics, but to try to apportion blame to someone else for that development can’t be fair.

Rumour mills don’t become relevant simply because people close to a situation choose to keep silent on what others perceived to have occurred.

It is that school of thought that fans emotional fires and invites people to give an opinion which is very often based on presumption or misinformation or both.

Listening to the stories from various sides, I concluded that both presumption and misinformation were rife and still nobody was any wiser, notwithstanding that the fingerpointing got out of hand.

Going over the top

Plus, this wasn’t the first time Williams has had hamstring problems, so selfish as some of us can be, we may have been more concerned that she didn’t get a medal than about her injury, so we could steal another photo opportunity or climb on another bandwagon.

Then again, wasn’t it a case of people going over the top so that they could have a platform to push their own agendas?

The politics of inclusion and exclusion seemed to be at the heart of the published discussions as if travelling with a team is a right or a piece of cake that should be shared around, especially when the games are of a certain magnitude.

I do agree that various associations stand to benefit from a bigger pool of expertise and competent personnel to draw from, but they must also be free to exercise the option of which officials they want to be part of any delegation.

And we have to give them the benefit of the doubt about their choices because clearly they have to examine a person’s credentials and use their track record to decide why they should be given the nod over another party.

I know that very often the relations between officials and athletes from past experience can be used to determine who travels with teams. Athletes like to be surrounded by people they are comfortable with and it helps to build and sustain morale within the camp.

This could very well be the case with some who are part of the support team in Rio.

Genuine interest

I believe that concerned parties have a genuine interest in contributing to the well-being of athletes, but there is no need to be a tug-of-war in an effort to make an input.

All contributions should be regarded as invaluable and should get the respect and recognition they deserve. We are too small a country to be seen to have so many divisions when we should be standing united and closing ranks for mutual benefit and the development of sport.

I think the Sada Williams saga has proven once more that we still have some way to go before we reach this point. 

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