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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    With the time running out for the deadline to sign contractual obligations, the parties remain far apart in terms of wage demands put forward.  The Reggae Boyz have asked for US$7000 ($1,050,895) per player, per match for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.  The JFF has insisted that, due to financial constraints, US$ US$2000 ($300,256) is the highest that they are able to offer.

    “I think that there can be a lot more marketing done to get sponsors on board and there are a lot more ways that funds can come in to compensate the players,” Blake told the SportsMax Zone.

    “I think that there’s a lot more that can be done.  I don’t think there’s enough being done.  It’s almost like I am asking someone to come and work for me and that person must figure out how they are going to get paid or how I am going to pay them.  Our job is to come and play not to worry about how we are going to get paid.  The JFF has a job and they must do their job," he added.

    With a 22-man squad, the players’ current demands could see the federation spend US$2,156,000 ($323,675,752) on wages for the 14-match World Cup qualification round.

     

  • 'The show has to go on' - JFF boss Ricketts cautions players not willing to accept what federation can afford risk being left out 'The show has to go on' - JFF boss Ricketts cautions players not willing to accept what federation can afford risk being left out

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  • Carolina Panthers: Ready to accelerate timeline after bright start for Rhule Carolina Panthers: Ready to accelerate timeline after bright start for Rhule

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    That is not surprising given how limited the Panthers' passing attack was in 2020. 

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    Bridgewater was a quarterback more reliant on his receivers' abilities after the catch than his arm strength. The Panthers had 4,129 gross passing yards and 50.7 per cent of that tally was made up of yardage after the catch, well above the league average of 45.6. 

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    He threw one touchdown to three interceptions in the fourth quarter last season, further illustrating the need for the Panthers to find a more physically gifted quarterback who can make the clutch throws in the waning moments. 

    Of course, the Panthers might have been more successful in that regard had Christian McCaffrey been available for more than three games. 

    Bereft of the talents of a running back who led the league in scrimmage yards and touchdowns in 2019, the Panthers were 21st in rushing yards per game. 

    They actually slightly improved in terms of rushes of 10 yards or more, recording 47 to the 45 they registered in 2019. However, with Carolina's 64 scoring drives ranked 23rd in the NFL, the Panthers evidently gave defenses little to fear in 2020. 

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    Defense

    The Panthers spent every pick of the 2020 NFL Draft on defense and, at least in terms of their pass defense, that decision paid dividends. 

    Carolina allowed 6.23 yards per pass play, the 12th-best average in the NFL, but the Panthers were dragged down by a below-par run defense. 

    Indeed, the Panthers gave up 4.75 yards per rush, with just four teams faring worse than Carolina in that regard. 

    And, while teams did not move the ball efficiently through the air against Carolina, the Panthers struggled to keep opponents out of the endzone. 

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    Offseason

    It's all about the quarterback in Carolina. After reportedly making an offer to the Detroit Lions for Matthew Stafford before he was traded to the Rams, the Panthers are expected to aggressively pursue a deal with the Houston Texans to acquire Deshaun Watson. 

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    The defense is not the finished article but, after focusing on that side of the ball last year, this offseason is one in which Carolina needs to load up on offense to help the Panthers make the next step.

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