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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    Diego Maradona was a majestic footballer who was idolised by millions worldwide, but the Argentina great was not the best role model off the pitch.

    His death at the age of 60 on Wednesday led to an outpouring of grief from within sport and beyond.

    The 1986 World Cup winner is revered in his homeland, where thousands queued to file past his coffin on Thursday morning, as well as in Italy, where he played arguably the best football of his career for Napoli.

    Maradona also battled major drug and alcohol problems, once shot at journalists, had a turbulent private life and took a swipe at Pope John Paul II.

    Those episodes all form part of the legend and the bigger picture when it comes to remembering the most talented player of his generation.

    DRUGS DON'T WORK

    Maradona was said to have first dabbled in drugs in the mid-1980s, and cocaine began to play a big part in his career. In Naples, a city where chaos plays a big part in the daily life of many, Maradona lived on the edge, risking his health with the Class A drug while attempting to still produce on the pitch.

    His form began to fall away, and comeuppance came with a 15-month drugs ban imposed in 1991, before Maradona moved to Sevilla.

    A seemingly resurgent Maradona was sent home from the 1994 World Cup after testing positive for a banned stimulant, and drugs continued to be a problem for Argentina's favourite son after he retired from playing. He later claimed to have given up drugs in 2004, following serious heart problems that led him to spend time in intensive care.

    GUN DRAMA

    Maradona was sentenced to a suspended jail sentence of two years and 10 months in 1998, four years on from an incident that saw him shoot at journalists with an air rifle.

    The February 1994 episode occurred outside his Buenos Aires home, and it was reported that four people were injured.

    Footage showed Maradona perched behind a Mercedes car, pointing the gun.

    TAXING TIMES

    He claimed to have been "treated like the worst criminal" by Italian authorities that were pursuing him for allegedly unpaid taxes.

    Speaking in 2016, Maradona told the Corriere della Sera newspaper: "I don't owe anything. They have been hounding me unfairly over the last 25 years for €40million with €35million in fines for an alleged tax violation that every single judge has ruled did not exist."

    Maradona added, according to ESPN, that he had been singled out as the only footballer to have jewellery and watches taken away by authorities.

    HOW WOULD HE MANAGE?

    Putting Maradona in charge of the Argentina national team looked like a dicey move, and his two-year reign effectively ended with a 4-0 defeat to Germany in the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals.

    Argentina had been in danger of missing out on the tournament but won their last two qualifying matches to scrape into the finals.

    Maradona was predictably elated with qualification, proving his doubters wrong, and ran into trouble when he told reporters to "suck it and keep on sucking it".

    FIFA imposed a two-month ban for the lewd outburst, with Maradona apologising for his comments.

    CEILING A DEAL WITH THE POPE

    By the late 1980s, Maradona was arguably the world's most celebrated sports star.

    Such celebrity status opens doors, and he met with Pope John Paul II.

    Maradona told a story in his autobiography, I Am Diego, of how he took issue with the pontiff's concern for poverty-stricken children, given the luxury set-up at the Vatican.

    He wrote: "Yes, I did argue with the Pope. I argued with him because I've been to the Vatican and seen the gold ceilings. And then I hear the Pope saying that the Church was concerned about poor kids. So? Sell the ceilings, mate! Do something!"

    HAND OF GOD

    From the Pope, to the Hand of God.

    Maradona's status in England will forever be tainted by his controversial opening goal for Argentina against Bobby Robson's team in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final.

    By punching the ball past goalkeeper Peter Shilton, who has not forgiven Maradona, the mercurial captain of Los Albiceleste became an instant hate figure for English supporters.

    Maradona claimed it was God's hand that helped Argentina past their rivals at the Stadio Azteca, a step nearer their eventual triumph and his finest moment in the game.

  • Diego Maradona dies: Newspaper front pages pay tribute to a legend Diego Maradona dies: Newspaper front pages pay tribute to a legend

    Diego Maradona's death made headlines across the globe as the world marked the passing of the Argentinian football legend.

    The 60-year-old died in Buenos Aires on Wednesday, two weeks after being discharged from hospital having undergone a routine operation for a subdural haematoma.

    After that news was announced by the Argentine Football Association, tributes flooded in for the Napoli great and on Thursday news of his death made front and back pages all over the planet.

    Here is a collection of headlines on the day after Maradona's death.

     

    In his home country, the newspaper Cronica superimposed Maradona atop the World Cup trophy, back turned and walking away, under the headline "Adios" (goodbye).

    Clarin ran a picture of Maradona holding the World Cup aloft, with the words "Conmocion mundial: murio Diego Maradona" (World upheaval: Diego Maradona dies).

    Uruguayan outlet El Observador went with "A que planeta te fuiste" (Which planet did you go to?), in reference to his otherworldly talent.

    El Pais, a Spanish newspaper, said the former Barcelona forward was "Un dios del football" (A God of football).

    Also in Spain, Marca's front page featured the words "If I die, I want to be reborn and I want to be a footballer... and I want to be Diego Armando Maradona again".

    In France, L'Equipe ran a full front-page image of Maradona in his prime wearing the blue and white of his country, with a headline which declared "Dieu est mort" (God is dead).

    Germany's Kicker dedicated its front page to the news, putting the dates of Maradona's birth and death under a picture of the star playing for Argentina.

    La Gazzetta Dello Sport showed Maradona kissing the World Cup trophy and went with the words "Ho visto Maradona" (I've seen Maradona).

    It was against England that Maradona scored his famous 'Hand of God' goal as he led Argentina to World Cup glory at Mexico 86. English newspaper The Sun was among the outlets to play on that phrase, coined by the man himself.

    "In the hands of God," read that publication's front page, which featured an image of the incident as the diminutive forward beat England goalkeeper Peter Shilton to the ball. The paper described Maradona as "England's World Cup nemesis and one of the all-time greats".

    The Mirror ran a similar headline, adding: "Diego Maradona, a hero, a villain, a cheat and a genius... dead at 60".

    Placing a little more emphasis on his achievements, The Times opted for a picture of Maradona celebrating that 1986 success in Mexico City, accompanied by the headline "Millions mourn Maradona's death".

    And the Daily Express, using both the handball and trophy photographs, described Maradona as "the eternal, flawed genius".

  • Diego Maradona dies: A look at the Argentina and Napoli icon's greatest ever goals Diego Maradona dies: A look at the Argentina and Napoli icon's greatest ever goals

    Diego Maradona dragged Argentina to World Cup glory, triumphed in Italy and Europe with Napoli and won countless individual honours.

    Along the way, the footballing great – who died on Wednesday at the age of 60 – scored some of the greatest goals the game has ever seen.

    No matter the occasion, or indeed the opponent, Maradona was often unplayable – as can be seen from our selection of his five greatest ever goals.

     

    Argentina v England (June 22, 1986)

    Hailed by many as the greatest goal of all time, Maradona picked up the ball inside his own half and dribbled past four England players before calmly rounding Peter Shilton.

    The moment of magic arrived four minutes after the infamous 'Hand of God' goal and helped Argentina into the semi-finals of the 1986 World Cup, which they went on to win.

     

    Argentina v Belgium (June 25, 1986)

    The goal scored by Maradona three days later, this time in the semi-finals, was not too dissimilar in that he had four opposition players between himself and the goal.

    He slalomed between two of them, jinked past another – in the process taking out a fourth – and fired past Jean-Marie Pfaff for his second goal of the contest.

    Napoli v Juventus (November 3, 1985)

    Napoli ended their 12-year wait for a league victory over rivals Juventus thanks to Maradona's brilliance of a different kind. If the previous goals were all about neat footwork and clinical finishing, this was more to do with sheer audacity.

    A large wall, set five metres from the ball, was not enough to stop the Argentine maestro delicately lifting the indirect free-kick into the one spot Stefano Tacconi could not reach.

    Napoli v Hellas Verona (October 20, 1985)

    This one was all about the technique - and the confidence to even think about taking it on. Maradona brought down the ball with his first touch, turned and sent a long-range drive flying over Giuliano Giuliani from a good 40 yards out.

    What made it all the more special is that this strike came in a 5-0 thrashing of Verona, who were the reigning Serie A champions at the time.

    Boca Juniors v River Plate (April 10, 1981)

    Maradona spent a season with Boca Juniors before arriving in Europe and it soon became clear what a talent he would become.

    His first spell at the club may have been short but he left behind plenty of memories, including a goal at the home of bitter rivals River Plate. With the angle against him, he squeezed in an effort with a masterful finish from the wing.

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