Diversity in sports more than about race

By Melissa Talbert September 08, 2020

Oftentimes, conversations about diversity in sports stop at race. There’s so much more to explore.

Don't get me wrong, discussions around race and diversity are important because there is more work to be done.

Just last Wednesday, TVJ's Prime Time sports featured international equestrian Lydia Heywood. Heywood, who is the daughter of a British mother and Jamaican father, does not look like most of her fellow competitors. Hence, she is pushing for more diversity in the sport.

Diversity in sports, however, isn’t only about race. Diversity covers a range of things including sexual orientation (yes, track star Caster Semenya is a symbol of diversity in sports) and age. Diversity would also mean accepting different sports. A diverse range of sports.

So, Heywood is onto something when she encourages prospective athletes and fans to accept non-traditional sports. In this case, equestrian.

Contributors to the gaming industry also want diversity. Before Jabari Brown decided to make his own game, he modified and animated characters. A video game modifier is a person who makes minor changes to another artist’s work. Jabari modified and animated characters because he wanted to see people who look like him. His modified black characters are called ‘cosplayers’. They have super speed, super strength; typical superpower stuff.

 Diversity is a superpower within itself. It gives a sense of worth and comfort through representation. When people identify with something, they’ll keep coming back. Jabari’s characters are influenced by Jamaican culture. His characters speak patois and the word ‘dark’ in his moniker ‘Japter Dark’ represents his dark brown complexion.

Jabari recently decided to make his own game but admits it will take many years to complete.

His mobile game will be a side scroller endless runner. A game where the player is always running. His other game will be more complex. The concept is an HD fighting game like Marvel vs Capcom. This means, it will be labour intensive and will definitely need funding.

 I get it, sprinting events spark joy and delight in Jamaicans. Our athletes give their all, excel, and have been doing so for many years. Just the same, I believe nontraditional sports can spark pride in us because anything Jamaica is a part of what makes us very proud. However, it will take truly accepting diversity for what is it for the island to be genuinely known for equestrian sports, esports, etc.

When diversity is grasped, non-traditional sports and industries can flourish. Prospective athletes and gamers will  see non-traditional sports as a plausible career choice.

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    Manchester City will have to wait to get their hands on a third Premier League title in four years after they fell to a 2-1 home defeat against Chelsea on Saturday.

    Sergio Aguero in particular will want to forget the game in a hurry after a failed Panenka attempt, which he later apologised for on social media.

    Liverpool kept their first home clean sheet in nine top-flight games as they overcame Southampton 2-0, while Leeds United cruised past Tottenham 3-1 at Elland Road.

    Elsewhere in Yorkshire, Crystal Palace inflicted yet more misery on Sheffield United, running out 2-0 winners at Bramall Lane.

    Stats Perform News uses Opta data to take a look at the best facts from the four games.


    Manchester City 1-2 Chelsea: Aguer-woe for leaders as Blues hit back

    City suffered more penalty woe as they missed the chance to be crowned Premier League champions.

    It had started well for the hosts, however, with Raheem Sterling giving them the lead with his 10th Premier League goal of the campaign. The England international has now reached that total in four successive seasons, with only Aguero (nine) hitting double figures more regularly in the competition for City.

    Aguero should have doubled their advantage before the interval, but his woeful Panenka attempt from the spot was comfortably gathered by Edouard Mendy. City have now failed to score more penalties (four) than any other side in the Premier League this season, while they are the first to miss at least four spot-kicks in consecutive top-flight seasons since Tottenham in 1993-94 and 1994-95.

    Hakim Ziyech made the most of that reprieve, levelling with his first Premier League goal in 18 appearances since scoring against Burnley in October.

    There was worse to come for Pep Guardiola, who has now lost four home league games this season – twice as many as he had lost in any other campaign in his managerial career.

    At 91 minutes and 54 seconds, Marcos Alonso's scuffed finish was the latest winning goal scored by the visitors in a Premier League game at City since Paul Scholes for Manchester United in April 2010 (92:41).

    Liverpool 2-0 Southampton: Mane helps sink former employers

    Liverpool kept their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League alive with victory at Anfield in the late kick-off.

    Sadio Mane opened the scoring in the first half with his second goal in three Premier League games, having found the net just once in his previous 14 outings in the competition before that.

    He was teed up by Mohamed Salah, marking the first time the pair have combined for a top-flight goal this season.

    Thiago Alcantara added a second in the 90th minute to become the 140th player to score a Premier League goal for Liverpool, though the first to get off the mark for the Reds from outside the box since Divock Origi in December 2015.

    Southampton, meanwhile, have now earned just 11 points from their 18 Premier League games in 2021, fewer than any other side this calendar year.

    Leeds United 3-1 Tottenham: VAR bars Kane as Spurs suffer

    Leeds' superb record against the Premier League's 'big six' continued.

    Marcelo Bielsa's side became the first to remain unbeaten at home in the top flight against each of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Spurs in a season since West Ham in 2015-16, and only the third newly promoted team to do so, after Ipswich Town in 2000-01 and Birmingham City in 2009-10.

    Stuart Dallas broke the deadlock to become the first Northern Ireland player to score as many as eight Premier League goals in a season since Chris Brunt in 2008-09.

    Son Heung-min equalised for the visitors, but Patrick Bamford restored Leeds' advantage to move onto 22 Premier League goal involvements this term (15 goals, seven assists). Harry Kane is the only Englishman to have been involved in more (34).

    Rodrigo then added a third late on as Spurs suffered a fifth defeat in 10 top-flight away games in 2021 – more than they experienced in the entirety of 2020.

    Sheffield United 0-2 Crystal Palace: Benteke helps Eagles deal with blunt Blades

    After a run of three consecutive defeats, Palace could not have wished for more accommodating opponents than the already relegated Blades.

    Christian Benteke opened the scoring after just 66 seconds, registering the club’s earliest Premier League goal since James McArthur's strike against Everton in November 2017 (51 seconds).

    Benteke has now scored more goals this season (seven in 27 appearances) than he managed in his previous three Premier League campaigns combined (six in 71).

    Eberechi Eze continued his impressive season with a second late on. Only Wilfried Zaha (12) has been directly involved in more Premier League goals for Palace this season than Eze (four goals, five assists), while no Eagles player has laid on more goals than the former Queens Park Rangers man.

    The result meant United have failed to score in 20 matches within a single league season for the first time in their history, while in terms of the Premier League, only Derby County in 2007-08 (22), Leeds United in 1996-97 (21) and Huddersfield Town in 2017-18 (21) have failed to score in more games in a single campaign.

  • Guardiola left to rue going back to the future as Chelsea claim final edge Guardiola left to rue going back to the future as Chelsea claim final edge

    So, Manchester City's Premier League champagne remains on ice after a 2-1 defeat against Chelsea but what, if anything, did the phoney war tell us?

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    Hakim Ziyech, as he did in the Blues' 1-0 win over City in last month's FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, found the net and Chelsea looked the most likely winners from that point.

    Timo Werner and Callum Hudson-Odoi each had the ball in the net from offside positions before Marcos Alonso did so legally with a scuffed effort in stoppage time.

    Three weeks from now, these squads – although almost certainly not these line-ups – will reconvene in the Champions League final. Maybe in Istanbul, but who knows?

    Overthink, underthink... what to think?

    Doing precisely the thing he hasn't in City's run to their maiden final in Europe's top competition, Pep Guardiola dropped a team sheet that prompt plenty of reaction, all roughly along the lines of "What on earth is that?"

    Having made hay with a team packed full of playmakers since the turn of the year, the man who once joked he would like to pick a side of 11 midfielders selected precisely one such specialist.

    Were City playing 3-1-4-2? 5-1-4, if that is even a thing? Holding midfielder Rodri was definitely in a category of one.

    The easy conclusion to draw was one of Guardiola doing something so ludicrous, performing such a wanton act of deception that Chelsea or Tuchel would be completely unable to draw any conclusions for the final.

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    However, that would mean Guardiola took a football match something less than completely seriously, which is something he had never really done.

    After enjoying all the pre-match Beautiful Mind gifs, there was some precedent to be found.

    Klassic Pep

    When Guardiola's Bayern Munich took on Tuchel's Borussia Dortmund in 2015, his biographer Marti Perarnau recorded an unusual tactical approach in the book "Pep Guardiola: The Evolution".

    Faced with a Dortmund team keen on packing central midfield, Guardiola opted to use wide areas and long passes to unpick Tuchel's setup. Bayern deployed a 3-3-4 with the ball at times and ran out 5-1 winners.

    While City lacked their usual fluency and assurance in possession – their 533 passes were their fourth-lowest number attempted in the league game this season – there was a definite plan to use the pace of Raheem Sterling, Ferran Torres and Gabriel Jesus to occupy Chelsea's back five.

    Andreas Christensen injured himself trying to deal with a long punt in the 44th minute, with Jesus capitalising and squaring to an unusually hesitant Aguero before Sterling picked up the pieces.

    Aguero then became the fourth City player after Kevin De Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan and Sterling to miss a Premier League penalty this season.

    "I'm completely in love with him. He is an absolute top legend, an extraordinary player," Guardiola said of Aguero after he scored against Crystal Palace last weekend. It is fair to say his assessment of the Argentina striker's brainwave contrasted somewhat.

    But Guardiola could reflect on the plan at least partially working. And if the first-choice attack of De Bruyne, Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva had taken up the high and harrying positions City's forwards did here, it is safe to presume their sharper creative skills would have mustered more than the five key passes Aguero, Jesus, Sterling and Torres managed between them.

    Three not easy

    One club that keen golfer Guardiola will surely put back in his tactical bag is the back three – certainly in this form, with three specialist centre-backs as opposed to a full-back tucking in to occasionally make a two a three.

    Reece James in particular made merry for Chelsea after half-time, to the extent Benjamin Mendy had to be removed. It was no surprise that the visitors' winner came down City's left flank.

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  • Messi defied by Oblak magic and roughhouse tactics in Camp Nou stalemate Messi defied by Oblak magic and roughhouse tactics in Camp Nou stalemate

    Jan Oblak saw it approaching like a heat-seeking missile and witnessed everyone in red and white clearing a path.

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    Oblak, however, had other ideas, and unlike his team-mates he found a way to defy the Barcelona captain without resorting to brazenly foul means.

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    For Barcelona, they are counting on their title rivals falling at the last now, with three rounds remaining. They would have gone top with a win here, but instead remain two points shy of Atletico.

    Yannick Carrasco and Marcos Llorente threatened in the first half for Atletico at Camp Nou, and the visitors had an abundance of the ball early in the second period too, but the chance of the game was probably the one that Barcelona substitute Ousmane Dembele headed over in the 85th minute, getting on the end of a cross that left-back Jordi Alba stood up to the far post but sending his effort far too high.

    When the big chances fall to Dembele and Antoine Griezmann, playing like a competition winner against his former club here at times, there are days when that can spell terrible trouble for Barcelona.

    Griezmann has now failed to score in the 12 LaLiga matches he has played against Atletico.

    How Messi must wish he still had Luis Suarez by his side rather than on the opposing team.

    Suarez, who was hurried out of Barcelona and welcomed with open arms by Atletico last September, was welcomed back to his old stamping ground with a big-screen video montage of some of his finest moments for the club.

    He had a game-high four shots, three of which hit the target, and generally made a jolly old nuisance of himself without looking at his sharpest.

    Messi was devastated to lose Suarez last year, but he has put that dismay behind him in recent months, with coach Ronald Koeman coaxing the best out of his talisman.

    Barcelona now have 50 points from 20 LaLiga games in 2021, but their chaotic start to the season is catching up with them again. Too many points were dropped then, and for Barcelona to snatch the title this felt like a must-win game.

    Koeman had an eagle's eye view, sitting high in the stands as he completed his touchline ban, unable to impose his presence and forced to settle for stalemate.

    Like Oblak against the Messi missile, perhaps he saw it coming.

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