Aug 31, 2012 Sports Comments Off on Pragmatism, rhetoric and a lack of vision
By Nigel McKenzie
Pragmatism engenders proper perspective. In Guyana as a whole, but more particularly as it relates to sport, being pragmatic often leads to one being ostracized. How dare you not dream the impossible dream?
Being realistic doesn’t fit into the grand scheme of things. It’s all about dreams. Yesterday, it was Olympic dreams…more of them. The persistent rhetoric about developmental plans and milestones has created a profound disinterest. There is apathy.
And that is exactly what pays off for the perennial sports administrators in this country, because there aren’t many probing questions coming from far and wide. Very few people care anymore. There’s too much insincerity.
To not have been part of any noteworthy achievement for such a long time—in some cases 15-20 years—and still try to convince the public about some master plan for many years to come, is nothing less than disingenuous.
Some of these clearly tired and uninspiring officials need to allow younger people (and there are many) with fresher ideas, more innovative thinking, energetic approaches and greater appeal, to assume these pivotal roles. They must admit, or have to be told, that they are not sports-inclined. They must pass the baton to those who really know.
Some media operatives have been accused of ingratiating themselves with officialdom and quite honestly, this has facilitated the mediocrity.
We must embrace the common sense approach. Proper perspective is essential in any meaningful pursuit. In life, there are dreams, schemes and then there is reality – something that Guyanese receive in healthy doses on a daily basis.
Here’s a reality check.
Last Tuesday, August 28, 2012, marked 53 years since George De Peana ran 10,000 metres in a national record-setting time of 31 minutes, 16.24 seconds (31:16.24). Fifty-three years! It was Friday, August 28, 1959.
Has any one of our administrators who claim to care so dearly about sport ever given things such as this even the slightest thought? A record set in the middle of the 20th century still reigns supreme in the second decade of the 21st.
When last would any of them have even checked the national records? Do they mean anything to them? If so, have they ever seriously questioned what may be lacking?
September 12, two Wednesdays from now, will be 34 years since James Wren Gilkes set the 100 (10.19) and 200-metre (20.14) records. Over twenty-eight years ago (July 15, 1984), Jennifer Innis set the standard for the Women’s 100 (11.26). She also holds the long jump mark (6.82 metres) which was established on August 14, 1982 – three decades back. Oslen Barr’s 800m effort (1:45.92), in 1988, remains intact. Harry Prowell (2:39:11) still has the time to beat in the Marathon since posting it 44 years ago, on February 4, 1968.
Suffice it to say that none of our national records are even remotely close to the current world marks. Thus, some may ask why present us with these meaningless figures.
Therein lies the problem. If we’re not apprised of and target meaningfully what we are yet to surpass locally, the requisite dimensions of the international task cannot be appreciated.
There is talk about the lack of elite coaches, equipment and facilities being major hindrances, but all that would be pointless without vision.
For example, $584 million is expended on a National Aquatic Centre, complete with an Olympic-size (50m) swimming pool. There is your facility. But amazingly, there’s no electronic timing device. We’re still leaning over the edge of the pool and depending on our eye–hand coordination to determine those hundredths of a second between competitors.
Our swimmers get to London rearing to go and then have their muscles tighten up because the pool is too cold. How about installing facilities here to simulate such conditions? By the way, we’re now considering a warm-up/warm-down pool. More drama.
Where did that entire venture go wrong? Well, the National Swimming Association, with all its expertise, was more than likely not as involved as it should have been in the planning for and construction of the facility – a familiar theme in all facets of our society.
All of which supports the insistence by many who are tired of the fooling around that those who have wasted available funding, not consulted with knowledgeable persons in the various disciplines, failed to treat our athletes with the respect they deserve, and who want to appear dutiful every time inadequacies are exposed or highlighted, must go.
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