Friday, September 2, 2011

The old ones really are the best

There is a great program that celebrates the memories of those seniors in the Caribbean community.  Hosted by a wonderful personality called Margaret Marshall - the Backyard Labrish show on blogtalk radio was really the first opportunity that I got to talk about me, my writing and some of the things that influenced me.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Usain Bolt and THAT disqualification

So, Usain Bolt got knocked out of the 100 m World finals in Daegu this past Sunday!  Now track and field pundits, fans and the public at large are bemoaning the harsh ruling implemented by the IAAF Congress in 2009 which became effective on January 1, 2010.   97 voted in favor of the change and 55 members disagreed that “any athlete responsible for a false start shall be disqualified".

One false start means disqualification, no matter whether you are the world record holder or an unknown from the smallest competing nation.  Usain has certainly electrified the 100 and 200 meter events and no one remembers more vividly him shattering the 100 meters in 2010 with that breath-taking time of 9.58 seconds in Berlin.  I was in the studios of WBAI with Ian Forrest as we watched the race and on its completion looking at each other in stunned silence for a nano-second before scrambling to put together a news release which was then flashed around the world as part of WBAI’s coverage.

Lord Coe, (former British Olympic winner) who is the chairman of London (Olympics Committee) 2012, dismissed the idea of changing the rule “the issue is very simple for me. You have to be consistent. You have a rule and you don't suddenly revisit it because a high-profile athlete has fallen foul," he said. "I'd rather not have Usain false start in London. But the start's not separate from the race; it is part of the race. It's not a technical nicety. It's part of the sport like a knockout punch in boxing. You pay to watch a title fight in Vegas knowing that a fighter might get knocked down in the first round."*(·Penny Woods -,

While that may be true, I’m wondering what percentage of viewers around the world will tune out of the 2012 Olympic premier 100 and 200 meter athletic events should Usain Bolt not be a participant!  At the end of the day however, I believe we do a great disservice to all those other dedicated athletes who make such huge sacrifices in honing their skills - shaving seconds off each sprint or distance time during their relatively short period to shine.  To give one athlete the responsibility of hoisting the popularity of track and field elevates him or her to ‘Icarus” status and we all know what happens to those who ignore warnings not to fly too high or too close to the sun. 

Was the IAAF wrong in implementing the one-fault rule?  Probably yes, will it change after the disappointment of seeing the world champion disqualified from the event that he’s stamped his personality on? – that depends on the advertisers and tv honchos who have their eye on the ‘watchability’ of certain sporting events and the needs and wishes of their sponsors and advertisers.  At the end of the day, we shouldn’t forget the spirit of sportsmanship, the thing that builds character, moral backbone and a sense of what’s right.  Who remembers the story of the young boy suffering with cerebral palsy playing baseball, the last pitch of the game goes to him, he somehow hits the soft ball that is thrown his way and even though the opposing team could easily play the ball so that he’s tagged – they allow him to run the bases and win for his team.