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Respect is a two- way street

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A comment by a Customs Officer last week Friday night, October 17, at the ET Joshua Airport, that our Under-20 footballers were not deserving of VIP treatment as they did not win the World Cup characterises the way in which our sportsmen and women are often regarded.{{more}}

In fact, the young ambassadors did not get such luxury on arrival.

And, many national teams in the past, and I can assure you in the future, did not and will not get this treatment, unless a serious change of attitude by both the powers that be and the sports people themselves takes place.

At one point in our history, national sports personalities were seen as persons who automatically got recognition, were national icons, and hence household names.

Overtime, this has gradually eroded and, in fact, they are held in little regard and respect.

It is true that it is much easier for persons to gain national selection, which has resulted in less prominence given to national representation.

It is also true that the level of discipline among the national players and sports people in general has deteriorated with the passage of time.

In addition, sports no longer holds the centrality of focus neither at a community nor at the national level.

So, it has left us in a quandary, as national selectees see the chance of travel overseas and the other perks that come as a reward for their efforts, rather than their role as sporting ambassadors.

Equally, the authorities, government, sporting and business have displayed that type of reciprocal viewpoint.

Our local weekly newspapers rarely feature the achievements of sports people on their front or back pages.

Instead, these spaces are left for the more saucy events, and negative happenings especially highlighting our young people.

One may argue that no one has really lit up the world in recent times.

Whilst this is so, the successes of Sophia Young and Sancho Lyttle at the WNBA, to mention the few, have hardly pricked the consciousness of our people, causing them in some small measure to be given some national accolade.

Young’s mother recently, and rightly so, asked for more recognition to be given to her daughter locally by her Vincentian people. She has earned it.

Caution may be a guarded option, that the authorities are not willing to dish out any recognition so soon on her, as from experience, some previous awardees have faltered badly in performances and attitudes, often belittling their status.

But Young has shown that she possesses the necessary poise.

Years ago, the achievement of Eswort Coombs when he won a gold medal in the 400m at the World Student Games in Japan in 1995 was celebrated here with a commemorative stamp, among other things.

Similarly, footballer Rodney “Chang” Jack, cricketer Winston Davis, the senior national netball team, among others, have had similar stamp recognition bestowed on them.

The annual National Sports Awards and the respective disciplines in house awards ceremonies are not enough.

Even the yearly reward exercise does not have the spunk and interest as it deserves, as not much significance is given to it, especially by some associations.

Too, each around this time, at our Independence celebrations, an award for sporting excellence should form part of the official ceremony.

Businesses can use selected athletes, who have been consistent in their deportment and performance to advertise their products as well as other endorsements.

It should be a given that outstanding past national players be invited and feted whenever regional and international events are hosted here.

Reciprocity, though, is the key, as athletes should show that they are deserving of such deals.

Maybe when our current crop of sportsmen and women see the way the former stars are being treated, they will think again. But the two must go hand in hand, as respect must be earned and likewise given.

But there is absolutely no respect for the thought of putting that “ Mound” at the Sion Hill Playing Field.

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