Sport first and foremost is about humans. Humans play sport. We must never forget that sports are games played by humans. As such, when we talk about and plan for sport there must be the intention to create an environment that enables sport to meet the needs of our communities, participants and our high performance athletes.
Too many people seem hell-bent on functionalising and commoditising sport—narrowing sport down to systems, processes, technology, and management, and leadership skill. Sport ought to have skilled administrators and coaches to be effectively and efficiently developed, managed and governed. But it’s important not to put the cart before the horse.
There is this myth about the place, and the first thing that has to happen is that we need to debunk the myth. Yesterday was Christmas day, as gifts were opened and we engaged in the usual Yuletide merriment and celebration. It’s important not to get carried away and miss the whole significance of Christmas. Modern T&T seems inclined to leave Christ out of Christmas. The same can be said for sport here in T&T where we seem inclined to leave sport and the essence of sport out of sport.
If I had to have one Christmas wish for sport, it would be for T&T to look at sport with new eyes of understanding. Though the truth of sport and the values of sport may stand firm as foundation stones, there is counterfeit faith and love as not everyone who claims to understand or love sport remains faithful to the core values of sport, or have an authentic understanding of the true worth and value of sport.
It makes no sense rejecting the truth to chase after myths, the most pronounced of which is that T&T is a sport-loving nation. It’s not. There is a lot of worthless talk—talk that only leads to foolish actions and arguments that only start fights. It makes little sense being boastful, proud and puffed up with pride when the foundations are creaking.
T&T sport has reached the point where people want to follow their own desires and will look for those who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear—reject the truth and chase myths.
It’s not that we shouldn’t stop and smell the roses. What I am saying is, don’t let euphoria and competitive and high performance success cover over the foundational cracks and inadequacies.
Remember when you have a victory, attention, comfort and joy follow, but don’t confuse attention comfort and joy with success. It’s not what you get that makes you successful; rather, it’s what you are continuing to do with what you got that measures your success.
Olympic and sporting success doesn’t mean that we are a sport-loving nation or that the sport ecosystem, infrastructure or processes are in order and fit for purpose. We must get serious about sport development and not continue to fool ourselves that we are.
We have to get the sport development foundation right, first of all. The foundation is the grassroots—in our communities where children and adults can simply play and enjoy sport in safe and secure facilities; where our children can simply be children by playing games without instructions from coaches and just learn by experience, the sheer unadulterated joy of playing games. In fact, that’s where the tacit knowledge is gained.
But there is a myriad of issues negatively impacting knowledge creation and management in sport. The problem begins with the foundation. If most of T&T were really exposed to sport via play, there is no doubt they would fall in love with it. If most of T&T recognised sport as being about human development they would fall in love with it. Merry Christmas, be safe