Opinion: Caribbean sports stars eerily silent during coronavirus battle

By April 07, 2020

Global athletics superstar Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is certainly deserving of yet another gold medal for what must certainly feel like a timely and meaningful contribution for those impacted by the global battle with the coronavirus.

The noted absence, however, of some of her Caribbean contemporaries speaks volumes or at the very least to a missed opportunity. 

Whether you consider it to be a foolish fact of life or not, millions of fans across the globe look up to the legends of sports on the pitch, track, or court as heroes.  Their opinions and actions carry a lot of weight and as a result, the post like it or not comes with a certain amount of social responsibility.

 In and of itself it makes no difference how far you can run down a track or how far you can hit a ball.  It is, in fact, the direct connection that those actions have with generations of fans who are inspired and filled with hope that makes those exploits worth the price tag.  It is a sacred responsibility and the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, perhaps the world’s biggest crisis, since World War II, marked the perfect opportunity to step up and fill those roles regardless of how small the contribution.

Leading the way, sports two biggest superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, who donated €1 million each to fight the disease in Portugal and Spain.

 In addition, the pair also posted messages of support for local governments and solidarity with those affected.  Of course, not everyone can make such a sizeable contribution.  Elsewhere, Joe Root and Jos Butler auctioned World Cup jerseys with proceeds expected to go towards the fight against the coronavirus.  In the NBA, several players have contributed to various causes with superstars like LeBron James and Steph Curry asking fans to keep safe and ensure they followed lockdown protocols.  Early on cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar and closer home, Brian Lara, also sent messages of encouragement.  The great West Indian batsman even posting a video of himself demonstrating the proper way to wash your hands.

By contrast, with the exception of Fraser-Pryce, who generously donated three-dozen care package to student-athletes, the voices of the Caribbean’s sports stars have been oddly silent as the region and world battles the disruptive, dangerous epidemic.  With the Caribbean still spared major loss of life or high infection rates, perhaps the gravity of the situation is yet to sink in.

Adding powerful voices to those of the numerous governments could assist in keeping those rates down.  I could have missed the, and apologise if I have, but in my estimation, a bit more is needed than comedic tissue juggling acts or other stay-at-home challenges.  Perhaps though, other contributions have been made during this time of need that are yet to be recorded.  In times of despair, those influential regional voices could utter kind words of encouragement or demonstrate thoughtful gestures that could go a long way to helping the hurt of some fans.  It, after all, sends the clear signal that though we may be isolated, we are all in this fight together.   

Kwesi Mugisa

Kwesi has been a sports journalist with more than 10-years’ experience in the field. First as a Sports Reporter with The Gleaner in the early 2000s before he made the almost natural transition to becoming an editor. Since then he has led the revamp of The Star’s sports offering, making it a more engaging and forward-thinking component of the most popular tabloid newspaper in the Caribbean.

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