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Fearing the ripple effect

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The recent spate in gun related crimes, the increase in the incidence of violence and the general degradation in social standards are sending streaks of fear through the veins of Vincentians.

Our society has become tense akin to a social volcano ready to explode at any moment.{{more}}

The upsurge seems to have no boundaries nor place or time for the unleashing of its fury and sporting events are not exempted from the sequel.

Fear looms large that next episode may just be played out on one of the many playing fields across the nation, as they are brazen enough to settle their “beefs” anywhere.

This ripple effect cannot be ruled out as the gangs have infiltrated the schools taking captive many of the young minds even our young sportsmen and women.

Although not of crisis promotion violence in sports has had its fair share of input on the local scene over the past decade.

The annual inter schools’ sports meet as well as other community events have been disrupted because of gang violence even involving students.

At one of the zonal preliminaries of the schools’ athletics programme recently, a fracas involving a male student and others had the potential to curtail that activity.

I shuddered when I observed a teacher failing in his efforts to contain the raged youngster, whilst others spurred him on into action. I wondered if the institution’s school song laced with profound lyrics meant anything to its current population.

“We hail our Alma Mater, the guardian of our youth, moulder of our character, guide in our search for truth”, are words they simply recite.

Sadly sports has lost its objective of being a unifying factor. It has become a paradox, as the playing fields and hard courts are no longer venues to release stress, but the venues where crimes are hatched and executed.

No one has taken heed that one of this country’s emerging young sporting talent was freed on a murder charge. This may seem to be an isolated occurrence but speaks of how far reaching the issue has pierced almost every sphere of life.

As we turn a blind eye or treat these matters with scant concern, sports have fast tracked to activities of indifference rather than being pertinent national mobilisers.

The result is the continuous decline in attendance at sporting events which are potentially violent.

To hear a local sporting event being advertised, punctuated with “Security will be tight”, makes us believe that we live in barbarous caves, where manners were never taught. But this is the reality of the situation.

Administrators of sports too are responsible for what transpires as they often have side shows at these events that promote lawlessness. In addition, they rubber stamp this sort of behaviour when they allow teams to participate in their competitions that have connections with many of the “crews” and “posses” that are mushrooming. The consequences manifest themselves in the slightest inkling of discord.

Mass sports such as Football is the one which suffer mainly, as sponsors are gradually withdrawing their support from teams and are channeling their corporate support to the more perceived “elitist” sports like Tennis and Squash.

Even parents from the lower echelons of the socio-economic ladder are leaning towards these sporting disciplines as they are concerned about the safety of their children.

Whilst violence in sports is a mere product of what takes place in homes, schools, and villages, stemming the flow must be fast forwarded with a high degree of expediency and urgency.

Losing a young generation through bullets and stab wounds does not aid national development.

It will not hurt us if sports like Archery, Rifling or “real” Wrestling be introduced here so that the marksmen can trade their skills or those with excess energy can box and kick it out in exchange for money. That same loot is at the root of many of the bloody clashes among those who pride themselves with the notorious sobriquet of “thugs”.

The reactive approach to the issue has overstayed its time and the moment for pro-activity has come upon us.

More social progammes undertaken by national sporting bodies to complement the activities by the educational institutions and homes that are still in tact are vital in any endeavour to reduce the stream of violence to a trickle.

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