Sports and the socio-economic factor
Sports in St Vincent and the Grenadines is purely recreational, and that is a given.
Save and except for the handful of footballers who are semi-professionals and who have to go overseas to get compensation for their efforts and the few cricketers who ply their trade with the Windward Islands franchise and those who play for the West Indies, other sportsmen and women are amateurs.
As a consequence, no one who plays sports here in St Vincent and the Grenadines can safely say that he/she is a professional.
Yes, there are occasions when a team may decide to split the monetary winnings among the players, from a competition they have gained some rewards.
However, the earnings are such that it is a mere “pocket change” as we would say.
So, with this in mind, sportsmen and women have to, in all cases, put their employment above the sporting discipline he /she is engaged in.
With this reality, it then means organisations that put on sporting events, both at the community and at the national level, must be cognisant of the all important socio- economic factor.
Those who follow sports here in St Vincent and the Grenadines are aware that there is always a fall off in participation by players and spectators, as the festive Christmas season approaches.
This is so, as those players who are gainfully employed are required to put in longer hours on the job, whether they are employed with someone, or are self-employed.
With sports being what it is, and the need to keep one’s job in order to put food on the table and bills paid, sports thus occupies second place.
What invariably follows, is a disinterest in the competitions that run deep into December.
Apart from the critical socio-economic factor, there is also the cultural/religious side that Christmas brings.
Tradition holds that there are fixtured activities that occupy the attention of Vincentians at this time of year, which sports cannot derail.
Unfortunately, organisers of some of these competitions are somewhat blind-sided by the occurrences.
So, what we have at this time of year are some watered-down events as the prolonged competitions are forced upon persons to accept.
This column hence is offering some words of wisdom to the organisers of sporting competitions which are set for the second half of the calendar year, to pitch their closing to take place in the last week of November, or at the latest, the first week of December.
But this is not to suggest in anyway that there must be a rush to have competitions being completed in the time frame stipulated above.
What is needed is some levels of wisdom applied by the administrators, who should aim at a finish date, and work backwards.
Here, a commonsense approach must be applied whereby the number of teams allowed in the competition would have a bearing on the duration of that competition.
It not only the festive Christmas season that such a factor hinges negatively on sports, but also the annual Carnival celebrations and the five-year exercise of national elections.
In the case of the latter, other than the party affiliation and preferences, national elections are a time when some persons are seasonally employed, and would not pass up the opportunity to put some much needed finances into their pockets.
Whilst this is not an annual happening, national elections too, have the same effect on sports and its interest by both active participants, that is the players, and equally the sporting public.
Cue though can be taken from what happens at the national Carnival period, as by design, sports is rarely affected, as except for the national cricket competition and at times the national netball tournament, and one or two community competitions, Carnival celebrations take over between June and July.
All in all, the personal economics of individuals who are engaged in sports, and some of our cultural practices, must be considered when persons are mapping out their various sporting competitions.
So as the Christian community the world over, celebrate another Christmas, it is this column’s wish that everyone have a blessed, but more so, a healthy time.