Sports and money
Sports men and women who grace the world stage in displaying their various skills and talents, they are more often than not, very conscious of their performances. They attach a high level of significance to their efforts, as for them it is their livelihood.
For the many patrons and spectators who pay to watch the exploits of these fine athletes, the vast majority are caught up in the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. For others who watch the various athletes perform in their respective sporting discipline, it is very likely that they view their performances as nothing more than that of a source of entertainment.
This is a view that is unlikely to be shared by the professional sportsman. Those who fall into this category compete not only for the sake of winning a medal, tournament or competition, but to benefit from the monetary awards that are offered. The professional sportsman very often enters into a contract for service.
This means that they are not permanent employees and provide their services at an agreed fee. The recently concluded Olympics in Britain would have brought together both professional and amateur athletes in competition, as they all vied for the glory of an Olympic medal. The vast majority of these athletes who competed were there at great sacrifice.
They would have had to spend long hours in training, and in some cases support their preparation from their pockets. Some were able to acquire small contributions/donations from persons, businesses or organizations within the community, who felt an obligation to offer some financial assistance.
To the professional athlete, sports for him/her is a vehicle of employment. They are paid to train and compete. They have daily training and fitness schedules, classroom sessions, arranged public engagements, and regular promotion and advertising obligations. These athletes are expected to meet determined obligations and expectations.
Most athletes dream of reaching the level of professional sports, for they are certain of sustained employment, once they continue to meet the expectations, standards and obligations required of them. For the elite athlete, there is a future after their playing days have ended. There are opportunities such as becoming a coach, trainer, professional team manager, sports administrator, radio and television commentator or analysis, and that of a sports consultant.
Unlike the professional sportsman, the amateur rarely will attract an endorsement, and get the big pay day that avail itself to those who compete on the professional circuit. Countries that are keen on developing their human resource should not ignore that those sporting skills and talents must be catered for in our development programmes.
Governments, working with the private sector have a responsibility to invest in providing facilities, resources, and all opportunities possible to have our talent developed and exposed. It would be fool hearty to think that this will happen overnight. Based on the way governments work, it is envisaged that this will take at least another decade for government to move beyond the conceptualisation to the implementation stage in any programme.
The possibility is that nations who operate like Barbados, barring a miracle, will hardly medal in the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
It is unfortunate that some island states like Barbados still have not awoken to the benefit of sports as a means of employment. We need to move beyond the political intrigue, and the hope of basking in the glory of our athletes exploits, without contributing in a significant way to that achievement.
It would be a glorious day when our national athletes are not required to go to a full time job and yet required to follow a rigorous training schedule for international competition.
It would a happier day when our sportsman do not have to apply to their employer in the private sector for national duty leave, only to be told that they can go but without pay. It would be oh happy day when government of the day establishes a indoor multipurpose training centre, with all the requisite facilities, including medical, fitness, classroom and dormitories, where our top sportsmen can undergo a one or two year full time training programme prior to the Olympics.
All other sporting disciplines should also have full access to these facilities when preparing their teams for regional and international competition. This can be done. Careful planning and effort is what it takes to make this happen.
* Dennis DePeiza Labour Management Consultant with Regional Management Services Inc.
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