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!

Two weeks ago a young footballer was shot and killed in Jamaica. Not long before that, the United States of America had a rejuvenation of its #BlackLivesMatter campaign following the death of George Floyd, who died after a policeman, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes, camera rolling and all.

It has been heartening for me to see black people from all over the world standing, marching, kneeling, lying face down, repeating Floyd’s last words ‘I can’t breathe’ together to say enough is enough.

The reach of the Black Lives Matter movement has been incredible since Floyd’s death, reaching all over Europe, Canada, the Caribbean.

But I am now hoping that there is another type of spill-over effect.

Already, there is very little talk about the young man, Shemar Nairne, who was one of eight people murdered on a random Wednesday in Jamaica.

Nairne played football for a living and he isn’t the first sportsman to be impacted by violence. Sports can no longer stand on the sidelines (the irony is obvious here), while the ills of society go without highlight.

For a long time, sports has sought to stay out of the fray for fear that it will be used for political gain and lose its purity, its independence.

But in Jamaica, just as has been the case in other countries, sport isn’t immune to the problems of the society it grows from.

I asked the question, what will be sport’s response to the murder of Nairne and by extension the wanton violence that pervades an increasing number of spaces on the island of Jamaica?

The responses were the very generic indignation that something like this could happen and the condolences to the family. It was not a George Floyd moment.

Sports, like music, are great at bringing people together in Jamaica.

I can remember watching Shell Cup football and being able to run through the spaces between the seats as Jamaica beat Trinidad and Tobago 2-0 to lift the crown.

The peanut vendor never had to chance his arm when selling his product to me and hope that I was decent enough to pass the money person-to-person across rows of fans to get him his due. He came to my feet to sell me the salted delights and was in no danger of blocking anyone’s view.

But then I can also remember that less than a decade later, I could not move more than a few inches either side of me when the Reggae Boyz were making their historic trek towards a first World Cup berth and the peanut vendor could not hear my screams for his attention. But Bunny didn’t mind. He was very much in the black with the number of orders he was getting. And violent crimes were down.

I say all that to say, Sports and music,  have a major part to play in getting the perpetrators of violence in Jamaica to stop.

Just as the Black Lives Matter campaign has gained worldwide traction and I witnessed as people like dancehall icon Bounty Killer waved placards in front of the US Embassy calling for an end to injustice for all black people, I want a concerted response from sports stars in Jamaica.

Football clubs, cricket clubs, track clubs must lead the way in bringing about an understanding of the importance of life.

I am fully aware of the fact that #GhettoLivesMatter is about putting an end to police excesses, but I believe the slogan can mean something bigger.

For some reason, and by ‘some’ I mean I know all the reasons but will not get into it, it is largely the poor who suffer at the hands of violence and this is a bigger statement than saying the police always brutalize the poor.

That being the case, #GhettoLivesMatter is apt.

Let’s hear the voices of the Jamaica Olympic Association, the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association, the Jamaica Football Association, Netball Jamaica, the Inter-Schools Sports Association, the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the sports stars who fall under all these umbrellas.

Justice for Shemar Nairne. #GhettoLivesMatter      

On October 3, 2019, eight of the world’s best female runners lined up for the final of the Women 400m final at the World Championships in Doha, Qatar.

Among the eight were Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson, Bahamian Shaunae Miller-Uibo and an exciting young talent Salwa Eid Naser of Bahrain. Also among the finalists were 2017 champion Phyllis Francis, Wadeline Jonathas of the USA, Stephenie-Ann McPherson of Jamaica, and the Polish pair of Justyna Święty-Ersetic and Iga Baumgart-Witan.

They were about to be role players in what was one of the greatest races of the championships and one of the fastest of all time.

About 15 months earlier – July 20, 2018 - about 6000 km away in Monaco, Naser and Miller-Uibo had set the stage for their much-anticipated clash in Doha.

In a stirring battle inside the Stade Louis II, the Bahamian running in lane 6 was pushed to a personal best 48.97 by the young Bahranian - running in lane 5 - who also delivered a lifetime best of 49.08s, clearly demonstrating that she was getting a lot closer to getting a leg up on the towering Bahamian star.

It was the only loss Naser suffered over 400m in 2018.

Fast-forward to October 3, 2019, when Naser is one again in lane 5. This time, however, Miller-Uibo is running in lane 7. Jackson is in lane 3.

People across the globe were expecting something special. Many, including me, smelled a possible upset. Naser had looked strong coming into the final, I daresay as good as Miller-Uibo, the favourite.

The only question in my mind was whether the two 400m legs Naser ran to help Bahrain to the bronze medal in the mixed relays a few days earlier had sapped whatever energy she had left in those powerful legs of hers.

When the gun went, it was immediately clear that Naser was going to be a real threat. She powered down the backstretch steadily closing the gap until she was on the Bahamian’s shoulder with just over 100 metres to go.

Naser then slung off the curve into a three-metre lead over Miller-Uibo and held her immaculate form to cross the line in 48.14 and the claim the gold medal.

The 48.14 was a world-leading time, an area record, a personal best and the third-fastest time in history. Only East Germany’s Marita Koch 47.60 and Czechoslovakia’s Jarmila Kratochvílová 47.99 have run faster.

Like the rest of us who witnessed it, Miller-Uibo, who had just run the sixth-fastest time in history (48.34), sat stunned at what had just transpired.

For weeks, the race was the topic of many conversations as we discussed whether the 35-year-old world record was under legitimate threat.

So imagine my dismay when last week Google alerts brought my attention to the fact that Naser had been provisionally suspended under Article 2.4 of the WADA Code.

Whereabouts violations make little sense to me.

The World Anti-Doping Agency requires that athletes fill out a form online that says where they will be for an hour each day. This allows doping control officers to locate and conduct out-of-competition tests on an athlete.

If an athlete misses three tests in a 12-month period, it is tantamount to a doping violation and the athlete, if found culpable can be banned for up to two years. Mind you, it does not mean an athlete has been doping but it also does not mean they have not.

However, it is the duty of the athlete to ensure that the update their whereabouts. It is not that hard. In this age of smartphones, an athlete can update his or her information on the fly because, in reality, things can change in a hurry.

In recent times, a number of Caribbean athletes have run about of this code. Jamaican cricketer Andre Russell and Trinidad and Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye have been suspended for missing tests.

Track and field athletes know how important it is for them to uphold the integrity of their sport. The flood of doping cases over the past few decades have served to badly taint the sport that it is hard to trust performances because you never truly know.

It has got so bad that even Usain Bolt’s times have been called into question even though he has never failed a dope test in his outstanding career.

So, it is shocking to me that an athlete could manage to miss three Tests in a year. In the case of Naser, it was four, according to the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), who also claim that Naser’s third missed test was under investigation while she was powering her way to victory in Doha.

What is even more disappointing is that the gravity of the situation seems to be lost on the young woman.

“It can happen to anybody. I don’t want people to get confused in all this because I would never cheat,” she said.

“Hopefully, it will get resolved because I really don’t like the image. It’s going to be fine. It’s very hard to have this little stain on my name.”

Her comments are shocking to me.

“It can happen to anybody”? It should not be happening. The life of the sport depends on athletes upholding their end of the bargain. Athletics has fallen steadily down the pecking order and is struggling to attract sponsors and it is because of things like this.

In addition, no, it is not going to be fine because now like so many other outstanding athletic performances, there is now a huge cloud of suspicion over that amazing time and incredible race, a cloud that will remain forever over it no matter the outcome of the AIU investigation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The West Indies will most likely leave for the United Kingdom (UK) in about a week from today to play England in the first bio-secure Test series in history in July.

The teams will play and whether they win the series or not, England will come away with virtually all the revenues generated from the series. For the West Indies, the story will be significantly different.

Come July 1, the West Indies players and all Cricket West Indies (CWI) staff, will be taking a temporary 50 per cent salary cut.

However, they are not alone. In April, England’s male and female players took a 20 per cent pay cut as the pandemic began to take hold in the UK forcing the postponement of the West Indies’ visit, which was initially scheduled for June.

The thing is, on this tour other than match fees, CWI does not really earn anything. Under this dispensation, wherein the regional players are going to be guinea pigs for the way cricket could be played for the immediate future, they and CWI should be receiving extra compensation.

In fact, pandemic or not, visiting teams need to get something from away series. Without an opponent, the home team has no content for their broadcast partners.

In boxing, for example, should promoters be able to put together a fight between Mike Tyson and me, we would all agree that Tyson would command the bulk of the revenue. After all, he is who they would come to see. However, a reasonable argument could be made that I should be paid fairly for having the daylights knocked out of me.

It definitely takes two to tango.

A couple of years ago, under the Dave Cameron presidency, CWI proposed changes to the current model of wealth distribution in world cricket but those were rejected as being unworkable.

Correctly citing that competitive balance is critical to the appeal of the sport, Cameron argued that: “Broadcasters and viewers are not willing to see international cricket because they are getting to see their stars anyway in the IPL or CPL. As a result, international rights have been devalued, except in the big market, which is India, England and Australia. So, 20 per cent of each series should go to the visiting teams.”

The problem with this proposal is that given what the big teams would have to pay over at the end of a tour, there would not be equitable reciprocation when their teams visit the smaller-market teams rendering it impractical.

Mumbai Mirror writer Vijay Tagore explains it like this. In a column published on May 11, he said Star pays India about U$10 million for every international match. If the West Indies plays six matches on tour, then they would earn US$12million for the tour. When India tours the West Indies, India would earn much less from their 20 per cent take.

Under the current status quo, the International Cricket Council (ICC) generates income from the tournaments it organizes, like the Cricket World Cup. Most of that money goes out to its members.

So, for example, sponsorship and television rights of the World Cup brought in over US$1.6 billion between 2007 and 2015. Sponsorship and membership subscriptions also generate a few extra million.

However, the ICC gets no income from Test matches, One Day International and Twenty20 Internationals. In this scenario, the host country gets the money earned from its broadcast partners and sponsorship as well as gate receipts.

A breakdown of the money distributed from the ICC shows that for the period 2016 to 2023, based on forecasted revenues and costs, the BCCI will receive US$293 million across the eight-year cycle, ECB (England) US$143 million, Zimbabwe Cricket US$94 million and the remaining seven Full Members, including the West Indies, US$132 million each.

Associate members will receive US$280m.

For the CWI that equates to US$16.5 a year. In addition, CWI will generate money from broadcasts of home series. However, not every home series makes ‘good money’. Based on my conversations with CWI CEO Johnny Grave, CWI only makes money when England and India tour the West Indies.

What that means is that when teams like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Zimbabwe visit, CWI loses money.

According to an ICC Paper submitted by CWI in October 2018: The revenue is inextricably linked to the nature of the tours hosted in a member country. It is also linked to the existence of a host broadcaster to exploit media revenues.

“Media values for members vary: the West Indies does not have a host broadcaster, mainly because of the size of its market.”

According to the paper, in 2008 the West Indies revenue was US$19.6m. In 2009, revenue jumped to US$48 and then in 2010, it fell to US$24.2 million. Media rights in 2017 amounted to US$22million but fell precipitously to US$987,000 by the end of the financial year for 2018.

Meanwhile, player salaries remain constant, money goes into grassroots programmes, player development, tournament match fees and salaries, coaches and coaching development, as well as support for the territorial boards. In bad years, these costs easily exceed any revenue generated.

The current model is simply unsustainable but solutions are hard to come by. In the Caribbean, sponsorship is hard to come by. Stadia remain empty because the West Indies does not win consistently enough to bring the crowds back, and for the most part, the ‘stars’ don’t play in regional competitions meaning fans stay away.

Meanwhile, the peaks and troughs in earnings against the costs associated with what is required to maintain a competitive international cricket programme, demonstrates in part why there needs to be a better way; why there needs to be a more equitable way to distribute money generated from bilateral series.

For the smaller market teams, it amounts to a hand-to-mouth existence that keeps them poor and uncompetitive. And frankly, that’s simply not cricket.

 

 

 

 

Had he been alive, Dr Arthur Wint would have celebrated 100 years on planet earth today and what a wonderful celebration that would have been for a man who had accomplished so much.

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