The other day I stumbled across an article explaining what it’s like to be a competitive rock climber.

Truly, I didn’t expect to show an ounce of empathy for the experienced rock climber. But with rock climbing having its Olympic debut in 2021, I decided to read it. Now I recognize how relatable rock climbing is for many of us.

A climbing wall (like the one at Sandals Ochi Beach Resort in Ocho Rios, St Ann) has coloured holds. The holds of the same colour signify where to place your hands or feet— this defines your climbing route.

In life, many of us have routes/paths we take to achieve a goal whether big or small.

Our individual routes/paths are unique. They have varying levels of hardships.

Similarly, there are three different types of competitive climbing— sport, bouldering and speed. All three take different skill sets. Also, the routes in sport and bouldering competitions are always unique because the holds are placed differently after each competition.

Naturally, we tend to compare routes/paths to see who’s life is more challenging. In competitive climbing, climbing routes are graded primarily on how complex the route is.

A complex route is dependent on how difficult the holds are to hold onto, how risky it is to reach each hold and the nature of the climbing wall itself. Holds have varying sizes— some so small it can hardly support a finger.

While climbing, climbers are bound to fall from the climbing wall because of how strenuous their route is.

Like them, the paths we take to achieve something in life can be so difficult or unfamiliar that we screw up.

All in all, rock climbing is oddly similar to life. There are unique paths to follow and along the way are adversities that force us to fall. Take now for instance, there is a pandemic challenging the paths of many like those from the entertainment sector. Many are struggling but it’s important to hang in there.

Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

I’m a Chelsea fan.

Now that is not a popular thing to be in my native Jamaica but I’ve been one since 1995, some 25 years ago.

I was not a fan of what used to be English football and at the time, the only team in the Premier League with any international flavour was Chelsea.

Chelsea boasted a squad with one English starter in Dennis Wise and were the only team in England that played with the type of flair I had grown up seeing from my father’s team of choice, Brazil.

Arsenal had not yet become the free-flowing team it became popular for and Manchester United, though winners, were not a target of my fancy.

But Chelsea, for all their beautiful football, were a mid-table team at best.

When they started to win, courtesy of an injection of cash from Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, they lost some of that flair.

Players like Gianfranco Zola, Ruud Gullit and Gustavo Poyet were no longer there and Jose Mourinho had turned the team into something resembling a machine that built cars to exacting specifications. Still I delighted in their success. Now they’re losing again and cannot seem to compete with the might of the Manchester Cities and Liverpools of this era. They have returned to playing with some flair but I cannot be completely happy with all the changes they have made to date.

But I will likely remain a Chelsea fan for the remainder of my time on this planet.

The same is true of the Jamaica Tallawahs. I fell in love with the Tallawahs much, in the same way, I fell in love with Chelsea.

I understood franchise cricket in much the same way I did club football and would have chosen any of the six teams in the CPL to be ‘mine’.

But just as I became a fan of the way the dread-locked Gullit would marshall his midfield and later Zola would turn a game on its head with a moment of brilliance, I could not get enough of big-hitting innings from Chris Gayle.

It was for this reason and this reason solely that I became a fan of the Tallawahs but I cannot now abandon them because, just as in club football, franchise cricket will witness changes.

And there have been a myriad of changes to the Tallawahs since the start of the Hero Caribbean Premier League, some seven years ago.

Now, there is no Chris Gayle, and the latest squad seems a far cry from the exciting days of the big left-hander smacking balls onto the roof of the North Stand at Kingston’s Sabina Park.

Still, I will remain with the Tallawahs as any true fan of a team should.

And maybe, despite the many changes, this Tallawahs line-up has a chance.

They do have more balance than they have had in recent years.

For a while, the Tallawahs batting was their strength but they had to bat teams out of games. Whenever they failed to get more than just a competitive score, they were certain to lose. In fact, I think they have the ignominy of sporting some of the highest losing totals in the competition's history.

This year may be different.

Fidel Edwards is an experienced fast bowler, who, along with the pace of Oshane Thomas, could pose some problems for their opposition in the league.

The Tallawahs also have something they have been missing for a few years now as well. An incisive spinner. Tabraiz Shamsi is the type of slow bowler the Tallawahs may just need. A left-arm wrist spinner, Shamsi is aggressive, with his 19.8 strike rate suggesting he will take wickets in the middle overs where the Tallawahs have been found wanting over the years.

Allrounder Carlos Brathwaite can provide both batting and bowling for the Tallawahs on the odd occasion, while Veerasammy Permaul can also do a job.

Now, I wouldn’t venture to pick the Tallawahs line-up but they have last season’s leading runscorer for them, Glenn Phillips, who should partner Chadwick Walton. The two can be explosive and put any team on the back foot. In the middle order, there is exciting Pakistani batsman, Asif Ali, as well as the power of Rovman Powell and Andre Russell. On a given day, any of those names can hurt an opposition, but there is the question of consistency.

That question has plagued the Tallawahs for years even though they have won the CPL twice.

But on those two occasions, they had Chris Gayle and even though he may not have been the man to provide the finals-winning performances, he did come up with innings of real class that helped them in getting through the season.

Last season the Tallawahs finished last and it is no surprise that Gayle had a poor run throughout.

Without him, the Tallawahs seem less dangerous, but I am still rooting for them. They’re my team and seem more balanced than ever before, even without the mighty Chris.

President of the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA), Conde Riley, is wrong to ask for the immediate sacking of West Indies head coach, Phil Simmons.

I have great respect for Mr Riley, who has served Barbados and West Indies cricket admirably for more than 20 years, but his utterances this week were, in a word, irresponsible.

Mr Riley’s comments have created an issue where there should be none.

Here are the facts as I understand them.

Simmons had a death in his family and there was a funeral which would, if he were to go, place him at risk of contracting COVID-19 because he is now outside of the bio-secure controls at Old Trafford, Manchester where the West Indies cricket team is staying ahead of a three-Test series against England.

Once outside of the bubble, Simmons (and the coach must have been fully aware of this, put himself at the risk of adding to the 313, 483 cases of Coronavirus in the United Kingdom.

The CWI and the England and Wales Cricket Board had come up with a strategy for ensuring the safety of cricketers in this series, inclusive of protocols for when somebody has to leave the bio-secure environment.

Those protocols satisfied both parties that those inside the environment would be kept safe from those who come into it from outside.

Simmons would now be treated like somebody coming from outside and would have to self-isolate and go through testing before being re-integrated with those who had remained inside the bubble.

That being said, once all protocols are observed, there would be no risk to the players and/or staff, even if Simmons contracts COVID-19. So far, he has tested negative on two occasions.

The BCA president pointed out that he had received a number of phone calls from concerned parents and members of the BCA with concerns about the safety of the players, given Simmons’ actions.

However, as a member of the CWI board, Riley should have known that the protocols, put in place before the players left the Caribbean, would have meant no added risk because of Simmons’ exit and subsequent return. There should never have been this sort of knee-jerk reaction.

As a member of the CWI board, it should have been incumbent on Mr Riley to assure those calling, that the maintenance of the players’ safety had not been compromised.

Instead, Mr Riley fuelled an unjustified panic regarding the situation and ‘put pen to paper’ in an email to the board, that clearly spoke to an uninformed position.

"I just heard on the radio that our head coach Mr Phil Simmons attended a funeral recently and is now being quarantined as a result. If this is true, I am calling for his immediate removal as head coach,” read the email.

Simmons wasn’t being ‘quarantined as a result’. That was part of the protocol agreed to before he left. And the president of the BCA should never ben using language like “if this is true.” Why wouldn’t you get all the facts before penning such a potentially damaging missive?

Mr Riley went on to call Simmons’ behaviour “inconsiderate and reckless” but I submit that it was carefully planned and not reckless at all. There was no danger to anyone but Simmons himself.

Cricket West Indies had made a public statement about Simmons’ activities and Riley’s email runs in stark contrast to that.

"The entire process of his exit and re-entry to the bio-secure location was approved and managed by the medical teams of the CWI and the ECB and strictly followed protocols set up prior to the tour which addressed such scenarios," read the CWI statement.

How could Mr Riley and the CWI be so divergent in their views?

Mr Riley also suggested that the CWI be pro-active in anticipation of backlash from the English press.

No such backlash has come.

In fact, the only question that has come from the English press about Simmons’ actions, have had nothing to do with player safety.

Alzarri Joseph was asked if Simmons’ self-isolation would impact the ongoing practice game the West Indies are now playing in preparation for the first Test on July 8.

Joseph’s response was instructive.

According to the young fast bowler, the team of coaches was prepared for Simmons’ absence and everybody, including the players, already know what their jobs are.

Mr Riley should also know what his job is, and it isn’t to suggest that a coach be fired.

Now let’s hope the West Indies can put this behind them and get back to the business of retaining the Wisden Trophy at the end of #RaisetheBat series.

I use my Sundays to look back at what has been happening in the world of sport. On many a Sunday, I realise that people have looked at the stories they have seen throughout the week through different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT.

Let’s not Pressure Cornwall

Former West Indies batsman Philo Wallace in an interview on the Mason and Guest radio show welcomed the inclusion of spinner Rakheem Cornwall in the final match-day squad for the Test tour of England. Wallace described the Antiguan as the “match-winner” and “trump.” In my opinion, Cornwall has immense potential but to call him a match-winner is simply putting too much pressure on the young man who is new to this level and format of the game.

The 27-year-old off-spinner has so far played two Test matches for the West Indies. He took three wickets against India on debut before claiming 10 wickets in his one-off Test against Afghanistan. During the recently concluded practise match in England, Cornwall took one wicket and scored two runs. Is this a sign that he is already feeling the pressure of expectation?

Based on Cornwall’s limited Test-match experience, I would suggest that we allow him time to settle as a member of the Test squad. I strongly believe Test cricket is a completely different level of the game and playing against England will not be a walk in the park as they are at home and hungry for a win.

Chris Gayle Opting out of CPL – A Surprise!

The 2020 Hero CPL will be different without the Universe Boss. As a journalist and a cricket fan, I will miss the energy that he brings to the games although I respect highly his personal decision not to play, especially in light of the COVID 19 pandemic.

Last Monday, Gayle communicated his decision to the St Lucia Zouks by email saying he would be unavailable.

In the email, Gayle pointed out that due to the lockdown he was unable to meet his family and his young child who are in St Kitts because he was in Jamaica. Gayle said he needed a break and wanted to spend time with his young family.

Who can fault the cricketer for this, especially considering the recent turn of events?

Gayle signed up with the Zouks in April after an acrimonious split with Jamaica Tallawahs. Based on the fallout with the Jamaica Tallawahs, I was expecting fireworks from the T20 superstar. I was expecting him to use his frustrations as fuel to score heavily this CPL.

Meanwhile, Gayle's abrupt decision will have disrupted the Zouks' plans for the players' draft, conducted virtually for the first time because of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The Zouks signed Gayle as one of the marquee players outside the draft in the US $130,000 - 160,000-price bracket. In his absence, the franchise is likely to get the first pick at the draft now.

 Mediation should have been the TTFA's first choice

 Having taken Mediation Studies at the post-graduate level, I believe mediation is a viable option for settling the dispute between FIFA and the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA).

Frankly, I am surprised that it was not utilized earlier. It is cheaper than heading to the courts, especially based on the reported financial situation of the William-Wallace administration finds itself in.

FIFA dissolved the Wallace-led executive on March 17, 2020, less than four months after the latter had been on the job. They were replaced by a normalisation committee led by local businessman Robert Hadad. The committee has been mandated to oversee the affairs of local football and reducing the TTFA’s crippling $50 million debt.

Mediation, though informal and flexible, could play a big part in shaping the outcome of the dispute. In the case of the TTFA, they would be presented with a chance to influence the outcome of the process while getting a listening ear from FIFA.

In addition, at the heart of mediation is the preservation of the long-term relationship between the parties. Should the TTFA have gone this route earlier things may not have been as messy as it is presently.

Congratulations! Well-deserved Liverpool

How can one be upset when a team wins a major title after 30 years of disappointment and frustration?

How can one question a team that has dropped only seven points in 31 matches so far this season? How can one not celebrate a team that has claimed a title with seven games to spare?

Hearty congratulations to the Reds, who might have experienced some anxiety because of the uncertainty of completing the season because of COVID 19. Credit must go the manager Jurgen Klopp, who took over from Brendan Rodgers in 2015 when the team was 10th in the league table. Though it has taken him five years to win English football's biggest prize, Klopp's impact on Liverpool was immediate. "We have to change from doubters to believers,” were his striking words during the press conference where he was introduced as the club’s new manager.

Overall, Liverpool has been a consistent group and as Klopp said, “They are confident because we won, but they are humble. If they stay humble, we have a good chance to be successful.” Congratulations boys!

 

 

 

 

 

The developers of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), Wizards of the Coast, realize their content has a tendency towards stereotypes, making it possibly racially insensitive and the characters lack diversity.

The team of developers behind the game is working to change that but many fans of the largest tabletop roleplaying game are furious, believing that because the game is fantasy, with fictitious ethnicities, there should be no issue.

On June 17, the D&D team published an article titled, ‘Diversity And Dungeons & Dragons’.

It discussed their design goals and their failure to meet them over the years.

“Throughout the 50-year history of D&D, some of the people in the game (orcs and drow) have been characterized as monstrous and evil...that’s just not right, and it’s not something we believe in.” According to D&D, what they believe in is depicting “humanity in all its beautiful diversity.”

To help steer them in the right direction, the team is actively listening to gamers.

“We created 5th edition in conversation with the D&D community. It's a conversation that continues to this day. That's at the heart of our work—listening to the community, learning what brings you joy...”

However, some members of the gaming community are sceptical of the changes.

Fans on twitter said: “It is fantasy, of course, it is stereotyped. This is exactly the way it should be...”

“Fictitious species are racist?”

“When the new orcs come out I'm gonna make them straight up racist caricatures of black people. it's going to be deliciously racist out of spite.”

A local player, Mikhail Green, says the game is a classic but he thinks this is tokenism at its best. “Business is business. When Twitter doesn't buy their games they'll come running back (reverting the game to what it was).”

I can’t say if this is a marketing ploy or not but it is a depiction of how seriously representation is taken in gaming— it’s not. 

Dungeons and Dragons contain both stereotypical and aggressive content. Players spend a lot of time playing it. Seeing stereotypical images over and over desensitize players to that type of content. It isn’t alarming either because it isn’t ‘real life’.

Therefore gamers are apprehensive about D&D’s attempts to implement diversity, believing that the change may harm the game.

But what must be understood is that whether or not people are talking about orcs or blacks, or the LGBTQ Community, the practice of buying into stereotypes could very well have deleterious effects.

It is the most subtle forms of prejudice that turn into more serious acts and/or beliefs like racism.

Darren Sammy, a former West Indies captain, brought to light that very fact recently when he learnt that a nickname his teammates in the Indian Premier League called him meant Blackie. He had thought it meant strong.

The realization opened an entire conversation about racism in India. Many in India had become so desensitized about issues of race that they thought Sammy’s reaction was over the top.

It is in this way, that seemingly harmless interactions can become very harmful. But hey, maybe it’s just a game. Maybe the D&D fans are right and adding diversity to a game doesn’t mean that much.

But what if it does?

Lewis Hamilton, for instance, just slammed former Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone for saying there wasn’t a race issue in the sport even though there was a clear lack of diversity.

So there is something to be said about subtlety and subliminal messages about prejudice. And there should always be diversity because it shows up the flaws in prejudice, even in the instance where we are talking about fictitious people.

Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

As human beings, we are attracted to extravagance.

We like to be a part of the big show. Whether it be protests or boycotts, parades or marches, or social media hashtags, we crave the solidarity of community in championing our causes… and we react.

And let’s be fair, that has its place. Martin Luther King’s adaptation of Mahatma Gandhi’s design in the 1950s and ‘60s worked. Peaceful protests elicited an overreaction from law enforcement which in turn got the attention of the President of the United States. And racism was cured.

Ok… so racism wasn’t cured. There is still a lot of work to do.

However, the solution is not going to come from a showpiece.

So, when the English Premier League decided to mandate that every team in their division wear “Black Lives Matter” on the back of their shirts instead of their names, it really ground my gears.

Maybe I was uncomfortable with being confronted with the issue head-on with the return of sport, in the aftermath of wall-to-wall news coverage of an ever-changing world. Football was to be my release.

What irks me the most, though, is that we have seen this all before from the Premier League.

Didn’t they launch a “No Room for Racism” campaign last year? And wasn’t there a “Kick It Out” campaign before that?

In both instances, it was just an extravagant show. “Kick It Out” is English football’s equality and inclusion organization, which was established as a body in 1997.

The problem is, the body has no power to impose sanctions on individuals or groups who are actually found guilty of racism at football games.

Now if “Kick It Out” can’t be trusted to make straightforward decisions, how is the Premier League going to assist in rooting out systemic racism which sees an obvious lack of black stakeholders in management, ownership and coaching in the UK?

The fight against racism in football needs to go up a few notches behind the scenes. Institutionalizing protest gestures like kneeling before the start of games robs the potency of the moment. And wearing “black lives matter” shirts seems like a total mockery to me, because it makes no difference.

Probably because acknowledging that black lives actually matter is the lowest denominator one can request in sport and in life.

In doing research for this article I came upon this link to the UEFA website which speaks about social responsibility and racism, only for it to hilariously return the message that the page doesn’t exist.

The irony is telling.

The sport’s governing body FIFA has run far from the issue of mixing politics and sport. And in a sense I understand, politics and sport should not mix.

However, the elevation of the black race in the quest for opportunity in a sport should not be deemed, politics. It is the right thing to do.

Football, after all, is a global game and representation in the elite leagues in Europe matters.

So provide opportunities for black coaches especially from poorer countries to get accredited; and for black players especially from third-world countries to further their careers.

It can be done, but the message must be engraved on the hearts of those who can enforce the change, and not on the backs of those who can’t.

Donald Oliver is a football and cricket commentator and a senior producer at SportsMax. Learn more about him at www.thedonaldoliver.com or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The effects of climate change are staring athletes dead in the eye.

The increased expenses of cooling Stadia around the world should be disturbing enough.

It’s full time athletes advocate for the environment.

Yes, climate change affects everybody.

The thing is, I can list everyday people who try to spread knowledge about it. I remember reaching out to Suzanne Stanley, CEO of the Jamaica Environment Trust because I was curious.

I wanted to know more about the environment and climate change and I wanted to share that knowledge with others. She answered all my questions.

There aren’t many athletes who, with their millions of Instagram followers and big endorsement contracts who have taken similar steps. Maybe it isn’t their job, but it is their business.

Sport contributes to climate change in more ways than we think. Researchers have even dubbed the industry’s impact on the environment, an ‘inconvenient truth’.

Here’s one example. To fill a stadium ahead of an event, athletes, spectators and the media travel. This travel impacts the environment in major ways. Air travel, driving by bus, taxi, or personal vehicles add to the regular release of carbon dioxide into the air.

Carbon dioxide traps heat— increasing the global temperature. As places get hotter, you may find just as sport impacted the environment, the environment will now begin to impact sport.

At the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, water breaks became a regular part of the game. Interestingly, water breaks just to help footballers survive 90 minutes on the pitch are expected to be part of the sport for the foreseeable future. Will we wait until the medical requirements for playing a game of football become too prohibitive for the game to be played? Maybe that is too far down the road for some of us to look.

Cutting down trees increases temperatures as well. We need trees because they absorb carbon dioxide. Less carbon dioxide, less trapping of heat, cooler temperatures.

However, every few years, there are a number of cities and/or countries that bid on major international events like the World Cup or the Olympic Games. For a bid to be successful, that country or city has to prove it can provide the facilities to host those games.

Yes, you guessed it, these stadia are going to be built at the expense of trees. Trees in the construction, as well as trees just to make space.

Sports like car racing contribute to the carbon footprint. These athletes get paid to do a sport that glorifies the internal combustion engine. When income is involved (and lots of it) it’s easy to turn a blind eye.

Formula One racing, for instance, is a billion-dollar-per-year business, climate change be damned.

NASCAR is another racing entity that hovers around the billion-dollar mark as well, but the need for big engines and blinding speed will mean, unlike the circuit has done with the Black Lives Matters campaign, there won’t be too much change.

Thank God for Formula E!

What I’m saying is, we all have a part to play in spreading awareness about climate change. This includes how we contribute to it and ways to mitigate/adapt to it. But athletes are barely doing anything. Hardly ever utilizing their following.

Why aren’t the voices from athletes posting information about climate change on social media platforms as big as the carbon footprint their sports leave?

Let me make some suggestions that won’t hurt an athlete.

There are fun and accurate infographics about climate change that are free to share. Infographics aren't overwhelming— this is good for short attention spans. They give relevant information quickly and clearly. The visuals help too.

But before athletes can share information, they have to educate themselves. Luckily, they can ask around as I did.

There are athletes who do their part and are providing an example for others to follow.

Elaine Thompson was the ambassador for NuhDuttyUpJamaica and participated in the International Coastal Cleanup Day in 2017.

It’s an eye-opening experience to see just how much waste is collected.

Last but not least, and I don’t envisage this happening anytime soon, but athletes and the associations that fund events need to begin sanctioning countries that don’t take climate change seriously. Don’t compete in those countries. Let’s see the reformative power of sport at work.

The lack of advocacy from athletes would suggest they aren’t impacted by climate change.

Maybe their spacious houses have a pool and air conditioning to keep them cool. Perhaps they fly out to another country when the weather in their own takes a turn for the worse, who knows?

What I do know is climate change affects everyone. We all need to speak up about it.

Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

Tell me I’m wrong isn’t a call to prove myself to be a better cricket analyst than anybody else but rather, expresses the hope that all West Indians have ahead of the team’s historic bio-secure Test series against England beginning July 8.

Esports organisations realize the reluctance of big corporations to help the gaming community. There are promising Jamaican gamers who struggle with recognition. Local companies have platforms to help.

Three days ago, Jamaica eSports Initiative posted a message on their Instagram stories. Their CEO, Gregory Moore, vented briefly about how blind local corporations are to the opportunities eSports can bring. By the end of the rant, he suggested a call to action: “young minds will rise up to create the industry for themselves and not rely on relics for validation.”

On June 9 The Gleaner published an article about Akeem and Tyreik Pennicooke. The brothers wanted funding to complete their Jamaican video game. The video game concept is relatable and interesting: “Arlinton, a 13-year-old boy who lost his parents in a car accident and now lives with his grandmother, Cherry. He performs jobs around his Portland community to help support his household and keep the environment clean while staying out of the clutches of George Campbell, an 18-year old gangster trying to lure youth into a life of crime.” Good potential for great gameplay. But there’s a lot where that came from. The gaming community needs more help.

Now I’m going to make a leap here. See if you can follow me.

Like clockwork, The ‘Dancin’ Dynamites’ commercials on TVJ repeat like crazy. They’re promoting reruns of the show. Dancin’ Dynamites is a Jamaican dance competition. It started in 2006 “to widen Jamaica’s appreciation of different cultures and different dances.”

Now here’s the kicker.

There are some gamers who fit right into a show like Dancin’ Dynamites, believe it or not.

Some gamers live-stream themselves playing. Some of these games are dance games like ‘Just Dance’.

Hasari Mustafaa does it regularly. She is part of a gaming team called ‘Valkyries of Arcadia’ and a dance group called ‘JaK'D - Jamaica Kosplay Dancers’.

If Dancin’ Dynamite had a segment for gamers, I wonder where the support for gamers and the acceptance for eSports could be today.

After all, the show attracts an audience of over one million viewers, 12 dance groups islandwide are selected to participate and the dancers get to present their routines on television weekly- an excellent recipe for exposure and putting our talents first.

The point with this quirky idea? There has to be a way, many ways, in fact, for eSports and by extension, game developers to get the support they need.

Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

Last week one of the cable channels was showing the 2016 documentary 'I am Bolt', which captured what was happening behind the scenes with Usain Bolt, in his own words, from 2008 to his final appearance at the Olympics in 2016.

Over the course of those three Olympic Games, Bolt won nine gold medals (the 2008 relay medal was stripped) in what was one of the most dominant eras by any athlete in track and field. I had a full plate of work before me but I was not able to pull myself away even though I had already watched it, maybe four or five times already.

It still gave me goosebumps watching Bolt’s career finally take off the way many of us expected, setting world records and winning gold medals and exciting track and field fans like no one had ever seen before.

It is a critical piece of the sport’s history and Jamaica's history as well.

Before the Bolt era, there were not that many books written about Jamaica’s track and field athletes and there have been many of the latter.

For a country its size, Jamaica has produced so many superstar athletes, it belies imagination. Herb McKenley, Arthur Wint, Lennox Miller, Marilyn Neufville, Donald Quarrie, Jackie Pusey, Merlene Ottey, Raymond Stewart, James Beckford, Sandie Richards, Juliet Cuthbert, Winthrop Graham, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Brigitte Foster-Hylton, Beverly McDonald, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce, Asafa Powell; the list goes on and on.

However, by comparison, so little has been documented of their respective careers.

The time has come for us to commission the production of documentaries that will provide archival material on what has been the greatest era of the country’s prowess.

From the current era alone VCB, Shelly, Melaine Walker, Omar McLeod, Sherone Simpson, and more have set records that have become necessary to document.

Not all will be a 107-minute long piece like 'I am Bolt'. The respective stories will determine their own lengths, but it is important that we have these athletes tell us their stories.

These athletes are living history and we should not wait until they are gone to have someone else tell their stories. They should be telling us their stories. VCB and Fraser-Pryce, for example, have some compelling stories to tell.

What do we do with these documentaries?

Well, the government is building a sports museum. These documentaries would be playing on big screens as be part of any tour by those interested in Jamaica’s sporting history. Copies should also be at the National Library to be used in a similar fashion.

The Ministry of Sports should have its own YouTube channel where each of these documentaries is always available to the public for general knowledge, research and similar pursuits.

This undertaking should not be limited to track and field, however.

Alia Atkinson, Chris Binnie, Ali McNabb, Lindy Delaphena, our boxers Mike McCallum, Richard Clarke, Trevor Berbick, Simon Brown, Nicholas Walters are others worthy of being documented.

As time passes, we should not be searching all over the place, oftentimes unsuccessfully, to find data on Jamaica’s incredible sporting history. Our ancestors used to pass knowledge along verbally. We have built statues to honour some of our sporting greats, the time is nigh for us to have more than just images cast in stone.

 

 

I use my Sundays to look back at what has been happening in the world of sport. On many a Sunday, I realise that people have looked at the stories they've seen throughout the week with different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT.

NBA Ball or no ball?

With the 2019/2020 NBA season set to resume on July 31, there are divergent views regarding the restart. Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving has been vocal about his opposition and says attention should be placed on resolving the systemic racial injustice and inequality which divide Americans. He has received support from Lakers Centre Dwight Howard along with many others, citing there are more important things than basketball.

By contrast, Lakers star LeBron has reportedly spoken about the need to get the season going again and this has been endorsed by his teammate Patrick Beverly who tweeted, “If the King says he is hooping, we are all hooping.” Most news sources have reported that LeBron wants to continue to play while also being a voice for social change.

In my opinion, change isn’t confined to one path. Daily media coverage fed to millions of sports-starved fans can be an even stronger vehicle for their message. The players can use their power and resources to effect change. Refusing to play will undermine all the hard work that black men and women did to stamp their legacy on the sport. Why not get the best of both worlds? Play and effect change!

 

Kraigg Braithwaite. Is he ready?

Sports overall is unforgiving because of its competitive nature. Selectors and fans demand results. Windies opener Kraigg Braithwaite has been under serious scrutiny and criticism because of his inability to contribute with the bat in the last few Tests. However, I will not judge the 27-year-old; just yet.
With a Test average of 33 and a top score of 212, I have time for him. In his recent press conference, he explained that he has been doing remedial work with coach Desmond Haynes. He stressed the importance of his mindset and confidence. In addition, I think opening the batting with John Campbell is also a plus as both players have a history that dates back to the Under 15 days. I think once Kraig applies himself, he can be a destructive batting force. It’s all up to him and the clock is ticking.

 

Marcus Rashford beats the UK government with a fast-footed appeal

A U-turn that was welcomed whole-heartedly by me since this is a cause that is remarkably close to my heart because of my love for children. Due to Rashford’s selflessness, approximately 1.3 million children will benefit from the free school meal vouchers for the six-week holiday period. It is a gesture that may appear a simple act of kindness but it will touch the lives of children and in turn affect their upbringing.

Rashford's act paints footballers in a positive light. It reiterates that the 22-year-old ManU forward has his heart in the right place while highlighting the extent of power that public figures have and how they can use their millions of Twitter followers to effect change.

 

Royal Ascot 2020: No fanfare but pure quality

The 2020 presentation of the Royal Ascot had no fans, no fanfare, no fancy dresses, and no hats but the quality of the races compensated. It has only been the first week and Jim Crowley has cupped 5 wins. James Doyle is also making his mark winning the Prince of Wales Stakes. The most exciting of them all he was the Windsor Castle Stakes that he won for the Queen with Tactical. The Queen’s first win since 2016.

Personally, the highlight for me was when Record-breaking rider Hollie Doyle claimed her first Royal Ascot success with a last-gasp triumph aboard Scarlet Dragon in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes. She enjoyed a stellar 2019, riding 116 winners – more in a calendar year than any other female jockey, becoming only the third woman to reach a century after Hayley Turner and Josephine Gordon.

Hollie has set the stage for all women looking on to feel confident to excel in what was originally deemed a sport for men.  The manner in with she kept her cool and managed to weave a passage between horses to pick up the win is an enormously proud moment that should be celebrated.

 

Fake crowd noise, does it make a difference?

The return of the Premier League during the Covid-19 pandemic has been different. Initially, I was sceptical about having no fans and people being replaced by artificial sounds. However, it has turned out better than I expected.

The lack of crowd means their needs to be intense concentration by those operating the systems and generating the reactions to ensure fans feel involved like before.

Also, the most noticeable aspect of crowd-free football is that everyone hears everything. That may be true inside the stadium, though even with the crowd noise muted, not much came over the television. Who needs people inside the ground when you can create your own atmosphere?

Toxic masculinity fails men. In some cases, it promotes violence. Despite the tendency to increasingly romanticise it, I think it’s time to take a different approach, especially within the world of sport where it can promote self-harm.

What we need to do is change our way of thinking. Why? Because, as it is now, most athletes glamorize pain. They valourize playing through injuries or discomfort.  Often, there is no limit to what these athletes are willing to sacrifice.  A few infamous examples come readily to mind.

In 1986, boxing great and baddest man on the planet, Mike Tyson, competed while suffering from gonorrhea. He battled Trevor Berbick for the heavyweight title. Tyson won but admitted Mike Jr had been burning badly the whole time. He literally put the most sacred of male parts on the line.

New York Knicks Hall of Famer Willis Reed tore his quad during the 1970 NBA final.  He understandably missed game 6 and no one expected to see him for the rest of the series. Nevertheless, Reed showed up for game 7 and demanded to go on the court.  Although he managed to score only two baskets, the Knick won their first title, competing hurt was praised by fans. Many described it as bravery, but it may have shortened his career.

Famous Japanese gymnast Shun Fujimoto broke his knee while competing at the 1976 Summer Olympics. Amazingly, he went on to score 9.5 on the pommel horse and 9.7 on the rings with the damaged joint.  To finish the routine, he landed from the rings eight feet above the ground and kept his balance before collapsing.  His completion of the routines enabled the team to narrowly defeat the Soviet Union and claim gold, but he could have been permanently disabled.  Would it have been worth it for a medal?

On the flip side, athletes are often ridiculed and judged when they decide to take care of themselves. Take Asafa Powell for instance.

Many times, when Asafa wasn’t at full strength for a race, I remember vividly hearing the words, “Asafa pull up again!!?” His injuries held him back. It wasn’t uncommon seeing him lag behind due to problems with his hamstring.

He also had a lingering groin injury.  This meant sometimes he couldn’t participate or excel in the big races— special races to Jamaicans.  Some fans didn’t take too well to his decisions to sit out. Some figured he was weak.  I understand men want to be strong and in charge but when they think like that, their strength works against them.

In other cases, toxic masculinity can be a hindrance to men comfortably expressing their emotions, even towards those who need it most, their children.

Two years ago, Damian Marley released his song Living It Up. It celebrates a generational victory for the Marley family - making it out of the ghetto. The music video showed Marley traversing the streets of Trench Town with his son.

While journeying through “the birthplace of reggae”, Marley was tender, watchful, attentive, and protective of his son. At one point, his body language said it all. He gently held the back of his son's neck guiding him in a loving way.

Similarly, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing my dad nurture my brother.  It’s something many boys and men may never experience.  Still, the seeds planted by men today can limit the dangers of toxic masculinity tomorrow.

I know the previous paragraph would have been a nice conclusion, but I forgot to mention something:

Countless men are uncomfortable seeing emotions other than anger.

There are times I overhear comments from men watching football. They ruthlessly express their disgust at how footballers celebrate a victory— by hugging each other. Something so innocent. What’s up with that!?? I dare you to hug your dad for Father’s Day.

Joe Hunt, International Projects Manager at English Premier League Club Wolverhampton Wanderers, believes finding their own identity is the best way for Caribbean countries to climb the international football ladder.

 Hunt, who currently oversees projects in North America, Asia, and Europe insists that merely copying what the best teams in the world are doing may not be the best fit for countries in the region.

 He pointed out that even his own country, England, has been guilty of thinking along those lines in the past.

 “When the French won in ’98 everyone wanted to copy the French, England tried. When Germany won the World Cup, everyone wanted to copy Germany. When Belgium produced all these players everyone wanted to copy Belgium. We are none of them, we are English so it’s about time that they developed a pathway that suited English players,” Hunt told The Commentators podcast.

 “Overall you got to have your own identity – how you want to play –what’s going to suit your players when you step into the elite arena.”

 Hunt was a guest on The Commentators Podcast with Ricardo Chambers and Donald Oliver. Listen to the full episode.

The anti-racism protests entered its third week today with additional fuel being added to fire following the killing of another African American Rayshard Brooks by a white policeman in Atlanta on the weekend.

Currently, valid concerns are being placed on the frontline. The topics are heavy and will have many wanting to ignore them. Especially by watching sports. Yet, these concerns are worthy of attention. You can’t afford to be distracted.

 An article titled, ‘Here’s to more #GhettoLivesMatter instances’ questions the activeness of sports organizations in Jamaica. It discusses two senseless killings. One of which was Shemar Nairne’s. Shemar, a young footballer, was murdered in Greenwich Town, St Andrew. Embarrassingly enough I didn't understand why the article called on sports organizations at first. I figured the police or the Prime Minister would be more appropriate peacemakers. Then suddenly I remembered that sports organizations have social roles.

 Social roles like reducing social differences and combating violence. These are big responsibilities. Especially because discrimination and crime are prominent in Jamaica. The scope is exactly why combating them needs a lot more effort and attention. Holding these organizations accountable is the right thing to do. Doing it while sports are in session will be difficult. Sports can be a distraction from life.

 ‘Stop watching sports: how can we better the lives of black men’ is a TED talk presentation by Dr Brandon Gamble. It examines sports as a distraction from economic development. The message is simple: Are sports hindering our potential for success?

 The average man spends roughly five hours a week following his favourite clubs, athletes and sports stars. Usually, this time is not to facilitate discussions outside the game being played. That’s five hours a week not talking about social issues or contributing to its decline.

 Gamble, a researcher and mentor for young boys, recommends connecting for real. Not around the TV or smartphone but where discussions about social issues can take place. Spending time and energy promoting awareness about the issues impacting black men can create a strong movement for making them stop.

 Gamble conducted a study. He asked hundreds of parents one question: what does it take for your son to be successful? The results revealed only a few said athletics. The majority was more focused on the love they have for their sons and making connections that will help their sons’ lives (not just on the playing field).

 Already, some sports stars and organizations strive for a better country by joining researchers and community members- they know the importance of happiness in a child’s development.

According to former Foreign Affairs Minister and attorney-at-law, Delano Franklyn: "...it is around the communities that many of our national sport associations organize their activities - especially cricket and football. In many of these communities, where high levels of unemployment, underemployment and youth crime can be found, sport activities have been a meaningful way of engaging the un-channelled energy of our young people into meaningful activities."

There are also foundations established by Alia Atkinson, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Yohan Blake, Asafa Powell and other athletes to give back to communities. The Usain Bolt Foundation promises to create opportunities through education and cultural development for positive change.

I believe volunteering or even funding programmes like these that specifically and positively impact blacks are more proactive for economic development than watching sports on TV.

Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

Page 2 of 8
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.