If you look in the thesaurus for the word sport, you will find words such as pastime, entertainment, amusement and diversion.
There are many dedicated people putting in a lot of time and energy to deliver the benefits that can come through sport. But they are becoming disheartened. Their enthusiasm is waning in the face of many problems, fraudulent statements, lies, speculation and things going wrong. Negative attacks take on a life of their own and live on.
Love and passion provide the impetus for not giving up, but at some point the reality that love and passion aren’t hard currency that can buy groceries or pay the bills hits home. Then the question as to why am I doing this? How do those who have to deal with the demoralising frustrations keep some semblance of sanity, faith and trust?
Sport is embraced by almost everyone, including politicians and business leaders. The adulation when our elite level athletes and national teams do well can be described as awesome.
Dr Roy Mc Cree in a paper entitled The Exclusion of Sport from Caribbean Economic Development, made the point that historically sport has been excluded from official and dominant notions of economic development in the Caribbean and that the factors for that exclusion represent the colonial derived, received or orthodox view of sport.
If you said sport in T&T is facing an uncertain future you would not be taken seriously. However, it is a reality that sport is struggling. For the majority of sport organisations and governing bodies the last year has been the most difficult period financially for quite a while and it’s not going to get better.
National sport organisations and governing bodies must plan for all outcomes including the best case scenario and the worst case. What’s even more important is being able to make rational and objective decisions that are in the best interest of sport.
When sport is running on financial fumes it tends to bring out the worse in everyone. As national sport organisations and national governing bodies’ battle on a daily basis to sustainably develop sport, they have to keep looking in the mirror before looking out of the window.
Significant achievements have never been obtained by taking small risks on unimportant issues.
National sport organisations and national governing bodies, including the TTOC, can no longer avoid championing and advocating for sport from a capital accumulation and economic development perspective.
We spend too much time, effort and attention on stuff that isn’t beneficial or sustainable. It’s time to shift the focus from solving problems to recognising opportunities.
From a strategic and policy perspective it’s about being proactive, staying abreast of what’s happening and using the opportunity to shape and create a sustainable future for sport.
It’s not just spin.
Many sport stakeholders are pulling their punches or hesitating to express their views. They have become tentative and overly focused on being politically correct- avoiding confronting sensitive issues or making waves.
We have to stop tiptoeing around significant issues.
How do we grow exponential the economic footprint of sport?
Who is willing to bet on sport as an economic game changer? How do we rectify the valid concerns and obviate the failure to embrace the economic development and transformation of sport in T&T.
Why are we missing the boat or is there something more sinister at play?
It’s time to tear down the wall of opposition and resistance to the economic development and transformation of sport in T&T.
The path to sustainable sport success, growth and development starts with a critical look in the mirror.
Brian Lewis is president of the T&T Olympic Committee. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Olympic Committee.