Regional sports broadcasters SportsMax has thrown its support behind the social media blackout campaign, geared towards raising awareness of the need to combat the presence of rampant racism and hate speech online.

The issue has been a sore spot for fans and players around the world in recent years, with players often facing death threats and racial abuse on various social media platforms, particularly after strong or disappointing performances.

Last month, two Jamaica internationals, Jamal Lowe of Swansea and Reading’s Liam Moore were subject to racial abuse online.  Swansea, in support of the player, announced a weeklong boycott of social media platforms with Championship rivals Birmingham City and Scottish champions Rangers following their lead.  The initiative has since gained steam with others announcing similar decisions.  The companies full statement is listed below.

 

SportsMax makes a bold move to join governing bodies across the United Kingdom and other organizations including the FA, Premier League, EFL, FA Women's Super League, FA Women's Championship, Professional Footballers' Association (PFA), Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), The Scottish FA, Scottish Professional Football League, Scottish Women's Football among others and fellow sports broadcasters in an initiative to combat widespread abuse and discrimination by not posting on social media this weekend, the suspension is scheduled from 3 pm on Friday, April 30 to 11:59 pm on Monday, May 3.

 SportsMax will not post any sports content to its social media platforms; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube for the duration of the boycott period but instead followers will see a slate encouraging acceptance and inclusiveness for all.

 “As the leading sports channel for topflight international sports in the Caribbean, SportsMax is not naïve to the vitriolic tone that some people use, especially on social media where they can hide behind anonymity and spew abuse without fear of accountability. We want to let it be known that this is not ok and it will not be tolerated, we stand with the UK sporting fraternity and all who will participate this weekend.” SportsMax CEO, Oliver McIntosh said.

 Sports fans can still get all their sports news, updates, and of course live action all weekend long on the SportsMax channels and the SportsMax App and website (www.sportsmax.com).

 We invite the various sporting fraternities, organizations, corporate entities, and sports fans around the Caribbean to join us as we unite and take a stance to make a difference and be the change we wish to see.

 

 

Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness has indicated that more local sports could soon resume on the island, after a series of meetings that prompted a change of heart from the government.

So far, in the wake of the pandemic, only a series of selected sports have resumed with horse racing and selected track meets listed among them.  In the main, however, the majority of sports have remained shuttered since around last May, as part of efforts to control the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

Among the more popular sports yet to resume are the National Premier League and the majority of high school competitions, which encompasses popular competitions like the Manning and daCosta Cups.  Holness, however, believes that while things will not necessarily return to normal, there is now a very likely way forward.

“Prior to now, the policy was not to allow sporting events,” Holness told parliament on Tuesday.

“We contemplated this over two days.  We had our COVID meeting on Friday and again on Monday and the decision is that sporting events can be allowed under conditions,” he added.

“The minister of local government, the minister of sports, the minister of public health will in due course explain what these details are.”

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and Ministry of Health and Wellness have been locked in negotiations for weeks regarding the return of the premier league.

 

World Champion long jumper Tahjay Gayle and 2018 Mr. Olympia Amateur bodybuilder were among four athletes who received awards at the Prime Minister’s Youth Awards for Excellence on Sunday.

 Human rights advocates from J-Flag, Anika Walsh and EJ recently came together to discuss and illuminate possible barriers that hinder adequate queer representation in sports.

From the outset, Anika and EJ admitted that sports and queer individuals are hardly ever bedfellows because of several factors, the most prominent among them homophobia.

“When I say homophobia I don’t just mean hatred. Homophobia means you automatically tell yourself that they identify as x and that means they ‘cannot’. It’s not that you’re actively hating anybody, but you already have this idea in your mind that they will not be able to do it like x person,” was how EJ chose to frame the issue.

It is a problematic way of thinking as, according to EJ, it means queers are ruled out and deemed incapable based on implicit bias.

Another factor he noted was the concept of excessive safety measures for queer people, which also manifests as another form of homophobia.

“I think sometimes people are excessive with this ‘oh we’re trying to keep you safe’ and they don’t allow you to say I’m willing to take x amount of risks, and so it becomes homophobia in the way that they’re limiting your ability to be yourself,” he explained.

Queer is an umbrella term used to describe sexual orientation that is not exclusively heterosexual.  Typically, for those who identify as queer, the term lesbian, gay and bisexual are perceived to be too limiting.

Anika believes another barrier for queer people in sports is the reluctance to create safe spaces for sporting professionals to ‘come out’ if they need to.

EJ agreed, adding that even in sports that are at times stereotypically associated with the LGBT community, like figure skating or synchronised swimming, there is an unwillingness to identify as queer even if people already suspect you are.

Though insisting there is nothing wrong with the approach, EJ believes it can become problematic when a coach knows an athlete’s true inclination, but it has to be hidden from the public because of potential heckling from spectators.  Coming out should be a freeing experience that shouldn’t require settling or hiding away in fear.

 During the online conversation titled ‘Lunchtime Convo Series’, the team concluded that events geared towards nurturing, developing, and highlighting queer athletes are embarrassingly scanty.

J-Flag’s annual Pride celebrations showcase the sporting talents of the community. Still, Anika and EJ want other spaces outside of J-Flag’s Pride event to showcase and celebrate queer athletes.

 For Anika, showcasing queer athletes on other platforms will benefit a younger generation. “Pride gives hope to a younger generation. To actually have someone from the NBA that gets up and says I’m openly queer or I’m queer and this is me coming out and this is my journey,” she said.

“It creates a space for younger professionals to venture in sports. For a lot of young people, they need someone to look up to and for most of them they’ll ever only see persons who are straight and that can be very discouraging for them because you want to actually find somebody who can relate to the different challenges they’re facing.”

 EJ agreed and pointed out that the J-Flag sports day is significant because “you have so many people who are athletes in all different areas. You have some people that were good at cricket in high school and they decide ‘ok I’m too out’ so let me not continue with this. So, having Pride even if they can’t compete professionally is very important.”

 Still, EJ understands that undertones of self-consciousness and insecurity also lead to many queer people shying away from pursuing sports in places outside of Pride.

“They don’t feel like their body movements are what they should be [and] it leads to them shying away from different sporting activities even if they are actually good [because] it won’t be the skill that comes under scrutiny, it will be the execution,” he explained.

 All in all, both advocates agree that J-Flags Pride can’t be the only place LGBT people feel comfortable in a sporting space.

In the meantime, EJ advises aspiring queer people in Jamaica who want to pursue a career in the sports industry to not “let anyone stop you. If you want to do it, do it. Don’t say, ‘they aren’t going to accept me, so I won’t do it’. Make sure you try.”

 

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!

 Alex Robinson, the former Calabar and Wolmer’s Boys track star, who I’ve known since he was born, taught me one of life’s greatest lessons.

We attended the same church and were grounded by similar principles, and in an interview, I did with him in 2015, he spoke about his struggles with injury and disappointment. During that interview, he uttered this gem, “life doesn’t end when we pause”.

It shook me to my core.

That same year he picked up a bronze medal in the Class One Boys 110 metres hurdles as Calabar ran away with Boys’ Champs.

I’ve never forgotten about that statement, and in this year of years, it resounds in the most telling ways.

When the 2020 ISSA Boys and Girls track and field championships were cancelled because of COVID-19, I knew that it was for the best as the country needed to have been extra cautious in that initial stage when we knew very little about the coronavirus. Keeping Champs the way we knew it would have been akin to setting off a biological bomb in the heart of Kingston, Jamaica.

This is an event that sees well over 30,000 people in attendance from all over the island and the world. Tracing COVID-19 after that sporting spectacle would have been difficult… as is the situation now… but I digress.

The announcement of the cancellation of the championships affected me in ways I didn’t quite expect.  It’s not because I get to miss out on covering the event, but I know many of your stories. The commitment to your craft is an art. Many of you see it as a way of either furthering your education, coming out of poverty, or both. The same can be said of many of my young footballers who won’t be taking part in the Manning and daCosta Cup competitions this year.  This hurts me, but not as much as it hurts you, I’m sure.

But life doesn’t end when we pause.

How do you cope during this time? Always keep in mind that you’re not alone in this situation. And, if you feel you are alone, you shouldn’t be. Remember you are a part of a school community, which is there to mould, uplift, teach, and advise you through varying circumstances. I know it’s scary that your teachers and principals are learning as they go through this pandemic, but this is your time to reach out and to let them know how you feel. They won’t be able to adapt unless they know your situation. So do not suffer in silence. Your school should also have access to information in regards to your nutrition.

You’re not allowed to give no as an answer when called upon in class, so your school should endeavor to find solutions to the issues you have. It’s difficult to move the needle sometimes, but when you do, it opens a lot of doors.  This should be your quest as future leaders of your family and community.

You must also continue to work hard at your craft. However, in actively pursuing training, the same commitment must be made for schoolwork. Organize with your school’s physical education department to see how training and exercise can be done while adhering to safety protocols. Staying at home and jogging on the spot can do only so much and no more.

However, keep in mind that you must be protected, so training with masks on when you can’t avoid social distancing is imperative. It’s not ideal, but it is better than doing nothing.  Remember the main reason you’re protecting yourself is for your family. Going home to mommy and daddy or your grandparents without the virus is a massive win.

Quite a few of you elite athletes are associated with clubs, which should not be playing a dormant role at this time. These clubs have access to fields and recreational areas that must be utilized. Encourage them to operate a schedule where a limited number of you can take part in training throughout the day. If your club cannot accommodate this… find a club which can.

And finally, endeavor to utilize your environment to get your goals. Growing up in Allman Town in Kingston, Jamaica, was a challenge. However, I was fortunate enough to align myself with people who meant me well. Most of that alignment came from the church I attended. My church played cricket, I did commentary at their games, and those tapes were used as my resume. And at the age of 17, I got a job offer from Radio Jamaica. Life.

Your circumstances don’t determine your outcome in life. And, life indeed doesn’t end when we pause. There is always a path to success. Your success is defined by your attitude and ultimately your commitment to a cause.

I’m longing to say your names on commentary again.

 

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..

President of the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA), Keith Wellington, is urging student-athletes to continue training for their various disciplines, in order to be in a position to capitalize on any opportunities to compete in this academic year.

The governing body for Jamaican high school sports has already cancelled all sporting activities for the remainder of 2020 due to a spike in COVID-19 cases across the island.

According to Wellington, ISSA is now using the period to assess what events, including the ones that were scheduled for this semester, could be held next year.

He pointed out that sports like table tennis and swimming are among the favourites to see competition first in 2021.

Wellington suggested that sports like basketball, football, netball and track and field might be the most difficult to stage.

Specifically speaking to the popular ISSA Boys’ and Girls’ Athletics Championships, Wellington told the Commentators podcast, “I know that a lot of people would have said athletics provides for social distancing.”

“On the field of play it does but if you think of our track and field activities, it doesn’t have to be that way, the norm is that you have persons travelling right across the island, thousands of kids from dozens of communities across the island,” he added.

“That is something that would be difficult in this time because you could have somebody from Hanover travelling to Calabar to participate in a meet…they come into contact and right away you have a spread right across.”

Speaking with Donald Oliver and Ricardo Chambers, Wellington also made it clear he did not see testing as an option, at the moment, for any sport given the financial costs associated. 

However, the man who took over the top job in June 2019, says he is committed to ensuring that student-athletes across as many sports as possible get opportunities to compete.

To athletes, he said, “all is not lost.”

“We define luck as preparedness plus opportunity. Right now, there is little opportunity, but you still have a responsibility to be prepared so that when that opportunity comes you will be lucky.”

“I would say to them (athletes) to do all that you can to prepare yourself mentally and physically to play sport. We at ISSA are serious about providing that opportunity to make your luck and we are going to do whatever we can to provide you with the opportunities in whatever format.”

 

The contracts of all sports coaches, including head track coach Paul Francis and Stephen Francis, employed by the University of Technology (UTECH), have not been renewed for the coming academic year as the college moves to protect its staff and student population from possible COVID-19 infection.

The pandemic has forced the school to suspend its sports programmes until it decides how many students they will allow on campus for the academic year set to begin on August 26, 2020. 

Paul and Stephen Francis run the university’s track and field programme, and who under a Memorandum of Understanding with the university, also operate the MVP Track Club at the school’s Papine campus.

The university informed the coaches by letter on Monday, Sportsmax.TV understands.

However, the school said the move is temporary.

“We have not made any final decision. We are waiting to hear from Intercol (Jamaica Intercollegiate Sports Association) and a directive from the Acting President (Professor Colin Gyles) in terms of how many students will be allowed on campus,” said Kamilah Hylton, the Dean of the Faculty of Sports and Science while speaking with Sportsmax.TV on Monday night.

“We have to make decisions on how they (athletes) would train in a safe manner,” she said while explaining that the school will have to determine how athletes would function under existing COVID-19 protocols, meaning how many athletes would be able to train together, adhere to the required physical distancing requirements and other related safety measures.

Hylton explained that depending on the state of the pandemic some contracts could be renewed as early as the second school semester.

“Of paramount importance is the safety of the athletes. We have to ensure that we have the necessary resources to facilitate the safety of our student-athletes,” Ms Hylton said.

 Ms Hylton also confirmed that, so far, no new sports scholarships have been offered to student-athletes.

As it relates to students who are already on scholarship, Ms Hylton said the school would maintain its obligations to them and they would attend classes as usual.

“We are bound by contract, so those students would continue to be supported once they continue to meet academic criteria,” she said.

Among other measures being taken by the school is the limiting of the number of students allowed to share dorm rooms on the campus. For now, only one student will be allowed to a room. 

The college prides itself as being home to a number of Jamaica's world-class athletes.

Former 100m world-record holder Asafa Powell, Olympic medalists Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Sherone Simpson were all members of the UTECH track programme.

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

 

CPL 2020 – Age, just a number?

India’s Pravin Tambe has been signed by the Trinbago Knight Riders, for the Caribbean Premier League 2020, set for August 18 to September 10. The leg-spinner will make his debut at the age of 48. Upon the announcement, there was major opposition, with some even questioning the direction of the CPL.

In my opinion, age is just a number, and CPL is doing a great job at marketing the product by firstly stepping out of the age group commonly associated with the tournament, and secondly, signing the first Indian player. Bollywood actor Sharukh Khan co-owns the Knight Riders franchise, which started its journey in the Indian Premier League as Kolkata Knight Riders in 2008.  One must consider that the CPL wants to expand its market even more because of COVID-19 and its financial repercussions. Attracting a new audience by signing the first Indian player is a brilliant marketing decision.

The signing of Tambe is a good move, as his expertise will also add to the Knight Riders unit. The wrist-spinner, who played just two first-class matches for his home team Mumbai in 2013-14, was sold to KKR in the IPL auction in December. He has a total of 67 wickets in 61 T20 matches, at an average of 22.82.

The move by CPL to sign Tambe could encourage aging players to re-think their place in the shorter format of the game. Based on how he performs, this is shaping up to be a major turning point for older players in the CPL. Best of luck sir!

 

Respect earned West Indies!

It has been a while since I have felt this amount of confidence and excitement waking up at 5 am to watch the West Indies play cricket.  From this Test, what is certain is this group of players is on the right track and the positives outweigh the negatives. They have re-evoked confidence and hope in the fans. Congratulations on the four-wicket win earlier today! You have shown heart and hustle.

Jason Holder’s maturity as a captain continues to exceed expectations. He has reiterated through his performances that he should not be underestimated - especially with his new career-best of 6 for 42. The skipper came into this series with an injury cloud over his head, having bowled only five overs across West Indies’ two intra-squad warm-up games, while nursing an ankle niggle. He admitted that he felt ‘a little sore, a little stiff,’ after play on the second day but had confidence in his team. He had no hesitation in answering, ‘discipline,’ when asked at the toss what he was looking for from his bowlers, and followed that message by his own example.

Another glaring factor, in the team's enhanced performance, is there has been a lot of improvement from the youngsters. The unit is looking much more competitive than they have in previous years. Shane Dowrich is a good example of that improvement, having scored 61 off 115 balls in the first innings. Jermaine Blackwood and his well-played 95 from 154 balls ensured the Windies secured the win.

Kraigg Brathwaite’s 65, his first half-century in international cricket since March, put his team in a commanding position. He set up a platform from which the middle order could build on the third morning.  While many would have lost faith in Brathwaite's ability during his barren run - his most recent half-century came some 729 days ago - his captain, Jason Holder, gave him full support and he has played a pivotal role in the player’s re-emergence.

Shannon Gabriel has also been a standout performer, picking up a total of 9 wickets in the first Test, despite initial fitness concerns. He created an impact with the ball each time he bowled. These sentiments have been echoed by the Windies skipper who said, ‘he is a strike force for us, he is a weapon.  I think we were able to use him in short bursts where he can run in and express himself.  To me his consistency was good, and he looked good.’

 It is one thing to perform well at home, but the real test is away from familiar conditions. Especially coming off a long break due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Whether we win, lose, or draw the series, this display of competitiveness has got the fans feeling hopeful and celebratory for the first in a long time. Thank you, Windies!

 

 Barca without Messi? What a joke!

Initially, when I read that Lionel Messi was leaving Barcelona, I dismissed it as fake news. I am fully aware that the captain has recently been displaying a different demeanor than we are accustomed to, but this information did not sit well with me.

Even after establishing himself as the best player in the world, Messi has always shunned the limelight. He has always been content with his records and to let his game do the talking for him, and it has spoken volumes. Things have changed, though, dramatically.

Recently, Messi has felt compelled to make his voice heard.

When sporting director Eric Abidal suggested that Barcelona's players were responsible for the dismissal of coach Ernesto Valverde, in January, Messi issued a sharp rebuke. When news broke the squad was reluctant to accept a coronavirus-related pay cut, the captain responded, highlighting the report was far from the truth. Although these are significant public statements from such a private person, I don’t see Messi ending his career at another club based on the legacy that he has built at Barca.

What we do know is that Messi is immensely frustrated with how the club is presently being run. The suspension of talks over an extension is evidence of his dissatisfaction, and it is indeed an indirect warning to the club’s management that the way things are done needs to be rectified.

There is a twist to the tale though. If anyone must go, it will not be Messi. It was previously thought that Bartomeu would see out the final year of his tenure no matter what, but Messi's refusal to sign a new contract has thrown the president's immediate future into doubt.

Messi's refusal to commit himself to a new deal has now piled pressure on his boss and there is every chance that next year's elections could now be brought forward. In reality, it’s Bartomeu who's now facing an early exit.

 

 

 

 

With sports all over the world coming back, and some are already in full flow, it was interesting to look back at what people used to entertain themselves throughout the lockdown period.

Sports like marble racing garnered unprecedented attention during COVID-19’s lockdown of sports.

But even before that, people found ways outside of traditional sports to enjoy themselves and some of them are, to put it mildly, quite strange.

We thought we would just introduce you to some of the more strange of these sports. Enjoy!

 

Underwater Hockey

This sport is not big on spectators and you can probably guess why. The field or rink is underwater, so nobody save for those with underwater cameras can see what the hell is going on. However, the rules seem to be similar to ice or field hockey. Two teams of six go at it against each other, using a stick to hit a puck into a goal. The game originated in England and is many times called Octopush and has a world governing body, Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques, complete with a World Championship.  

 

Bossaball

Bossaball was started in Spain by Belgian Filip Eyckmans in 2005. The game combines volleyball, football, gymnastics and music. Played on an inflatable court, there is a trampoline on each side of a net that allows players to bounce and score through spiking as they would in volleyball. The game is played between two teams of four players. One player stays on the trampoline, with the others on the remainder of the inflatable. After a serve, each team is allowed five attempts at getting the ball back over the net. Any body part may be used and a player is allowed to take two touches if he or she does not use his hands or arms.

 

Wife carrying

This sport was created in Finland with the objective simply being for a man to carry a female partner through an obstacle course, with the fastest time declared the winner. Interestingly there are a number of ways to carry like the classic piggyback, or the fireman’s carry (over the shoulder), or the Estonian-style. The Estonian-style is the most visually interesting of the bunch as the ‘wife’ is upside-down on the ‘husband’s’ back with her legs wrapped around the neck and shoulders. The Wife Carrying World Championships are held every year in Finland with the prize is the wife’s weight in beer.

 

Rock Paper Scissors League

In the United States, the classic game of Rock, paper, scissors has taken on professional proportions, with the founding of the Rock Paper Scissors League. A national championship was televised in 2006 and 2007, but playing the game at that level has not caught on even though there has been no word that the league’s commissioner, Matti Leshem, has given up on the idea.

 

Dog surfing

Dogs surfing have made for famous pictures the world over, but who knew it was a full-on sport. Judges look at a dog’s overall certainty on the board, the size of the wave, and the ride length. The largest dog surfing competition is the Loews Coronado Bay Resort Surf Dog Competition held at Imperial Beach in California.

 

Unicycle hockey

Horses can be expensive to maintain, making the sport of polo a little prohibitive for some. Enter the unicycle. Riding unicycles has always been novel but a very isolationist type of endeavour. Enter hockey. Now you have a team endeavour, bringing the lonely unicyclist, a shared goal with others. The International Unicycling Federation governs the sport. Any stick which is legal for ice hockey, outside of the goalkeeper’s. The game is played five-per-side with unlimited substitutions. All positions are interchangeable, including that of the goalkeeper. Unlike ice hockey, the game is a non-contact sport.

   

Caber Toss

This sport involves the tossing of a large tapered pole called a Caber. It is a traditional Scottish sport and the caber is usually 19 feet 6 inches long. According to rumour, the sport developed out of the need for lumberjacks to transport logs by throwing them in streams. The scoring is fairly complex and would probably take up quite a bit of time, but even if you don’t understand all the rules, the spectacle of it is undeniable.

 

Chess Boxing

Chess boxing, as its name suggests, is a merger between the two combat sports. The combatants fight in alternate rounds of chess and boxing. It is interesting that you can either get checkmated or knocked out to lose.

The contest consists of 11 rounds. Six rounds are dedicated to chess and five to boxing, with a victory in either discipline ending the affair.

 

Cheese Rolling

Cheese Rolling, like Chess Boxing, is self-explanatory. A nine-pound round of double Gloucester cheese is rolled from the top of a hill and competitors chase after it. The first person across the finish line at the bottom is declared the winner and the cheese is his or her prize. The aim really is to catch the cheese but almost nobody can make up the ground between the one-second headstart the cheese gets and the manner in which it accelerates. The event has made Cooper’s Hill in Glouchester where it takes place, a world-famous tourist destination with visitors coming from everywhere to take part.

 

Blind Soccer

Football is the most popular sport in the world but was played, unfortunately, to the exclusion of the blind. That is not the case anymore as the Paralympic sport has found a way, using pebbles or marbles in the ball, to allow the blind to follow the ball. The only persons who are allowed to see, are the goalkeepers and so those who are legally blind but can see more than others, must wear a face mask. The sport is fast-paced and a really exciting thing to watch, with talented players all over.

 

Ferret-legging

Ferret-legging, for all intents, is a test of endurance - but it is strange. Participants wear pants and close off the legs before putting ferrets down each pant leg. Whoever can stand to keep the ferrets inside their pants for the longest wins. It is thought the sport had its origins in England where poachers would put the animals down their trousers to hide them because it was illegal for anybody, save the relatively wealthy, to keep ferrets. Fortunately or not, Ferret-legging is a dying sport.

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!

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.

 

 

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!

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