Dear Editor: I recently viewed the results of the School Sports basketball tournament. I had to do a double-take at one of the scores and then called a colleague to inquire whether the score was accurate. My colleague confirmed that the score, 116-2 was indeed accurate.
This result brings to light a number of questions about the school sports program and the purpose of the Ministry of Sports.
What is the purpose of the school sports program? Is it to develop sportsmen and women and to identify and nurture talent? Is it to organize events? Is it simply to select a champion school at the various competitions? Do the relevant stakeholders understand the objective of the school sports program?
Whatever the purpose of the school sports program (I’m not sure I know) the result of this “competition” 116-2 could not have met any positive objective for any program dealing with youth development.
It also brings to light the significance of sports in this country in general. The team that scored 2 points, should they have been in this “competition”? Were they adequately prepared to participate in this “competition”? Should their coach have skipped this year to better prepare them? These two teams are in the same, single category of the tournament. Should a better process be employed that would help ensure athletes are placed in situations that are appropriate for their development and skill level? The football tournament has a Big 8 category and another lower category. Should this be the same for basketball?
When athletes are placed in situations that are beyond their development and skill level, irreparable damage is done, both physically and psychologically. While this result (116-2) was certainly an aberration, it is not uncommon. There are other similar blowout scores like 85-2 and unbelievable scores like 7-8; yes, 7-8 in an under-19 boys basketball game. Something is clearly wrong here. Where is the basketball association in all this?
Who are the people working with and coaching our young sportsmen and women? I am still trying to fathom how a coach could allow his team to score 116 points while holding the other team to 2 points. Yes, it had to take some defense and strategy (as little as it might have been) to hold a team to 2 points in a basketball game. What was the purpose of this onslaught? I’m not sure of the purpose, but the result was that a group of our young men, their coach, and their school were thoroughly embarrassed.
The result was a negative experience for these young boys, one which could potentially turn them off from the sport of basketball and sports in general, at a time when we are trying to get them involved. What does it do for the winning team? Give them an opportunity to gloat? Does it motivate them? What lesson was taught to the youth of Saint Lucia who were engaged in this thing?
We need to take a serious look at the persons we allow to work with our young people and the lessons that are being communicated to these young people. We need to ensure that these persons have the necessary life skills to impart to our young people; that they understand the value and benefit of sports that go beyond winning and losing; that they understand the impact their actions can have on the development of our youth and sports. We need to ensure that they are trained and qualified to be around our children and that qualification extends beyond just being a former athlete.