first_img TRACK AND FIELD GLORY DAYS MONEY IN SPORTS The sport of track and field continues to enjoy days of glory. Jamaican sprinters are the envy of the world. The quarter-milers are ganging up for a return to the days of the Helsinki 1952 Olympics foursome. The Racers and MVP track clubs are churning out quality athletes, some to the benefit of adopted countries to whom they have redirected their allegiance. Through the dreams of a few coaches, dedicated to sharing the spotlight – and Julian Leonard Robinson and Michael Vassell must be mentioned – world-class throwers are emerging. Jamaica, with sports aficio-nados gaping in disbelief, qualified three discus men to be at the Beijing World Champs last year. Having two of our male sprint hurdlers making the final at that elite event was both startling and spoke to good days ahead in the discipline for that gender. The women had accomplished that time and again. None other than five-timer at the Olympics, Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, with the added benefit of a political platform, said recently on social media that more medals than the 12 mined at London 2012 could be expected this summer in Rio. All that said, where is Foster’s Fairplay taking its highly respected readers this week? The image of West Indies cricket, built on the real version, is taking a severe beating. One has to be prepared for a verbal broadside from friend and fellow analyst, Oral Tracey, for the usage of the word ‘real’. He is known and respected in the arena of comedy. However, he sees nothing comic in his often-stated view that Test cricket, as a spectacle, is like a three-dollar bill – non-existent. However, that scenario is not of immediate concern to this column. Followers of sports Jamaica-style still hold fond memories of the world dominance of West Indies cricket. To avoid confusion with the versions in which regional teams claimed three titles recently, the reference is to the Test format. With the land of Bob Marley and the Reggae Boyz having a significant player input, the breathtaking brilliance touched three decades. With minimal threats to the ascendancy established under skipper Clive Lloyd to be continued with Viv Richards at the helm, there were series whippings administered one after the other. Scheduled five-day matches, being completed in three days, became a feature. The most fearsome foes, England and Australia, were flattened at home and abroad. The former suffered on two occasions what was first called a whitewash – five Test match batterings to nil. In short order, to highlight the ethnicity of the victors, the term ‘blackwash’ was coined. All this came to a sad end in 1995, when the Aussies injected their earlier conquerors with a losing serum. The effect is long and lasting. Debate as to what went wrong continues to rage. Taking the parlous state of Test cricket into active consideration, one fears a trickle over into the sport that is now bringing such joy to our people. It is also advertising the nation and its attributes to the world, who is watching on television, when the little rock called Jamaica blows away the most powerful nations on the global stage. The Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce breakout in 2008 in Beijing and their prolonged maintenance of tenure at the top rung have taken effect. All actors have been alerted to the reality that there is money in the sport and in copious quantities. There is a host of cloak and dagger games being played out with the ‘innocent’ athletes as the carrot. Allegations state that they are being forced into contracts with them as the silent partner. Uncaring coaches, the big cash returns superseding sound judgement, are left unmolested to exploit the talents of their charges. Shoe companies, too, play their role. The sickening effect mushrooms as parents and guardians are in need of the newly injected funds to keep household pots on the fire. What is missing is the knowledge required to be able to properly monitor the coaches, who them as their meal ticket to prosperity. Someone or organisation has to either ‘bell the cat’ or ‘sound the trumpet’ on these questionable activities threatening to destroy the Beijing 2008 template. The case rests, as the show of hands is awaited. – Send feedback to

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