We should demand the best from our sports administratorsThursday, August 19, 2021
This column could be about a Jamaican athlete at the Olympic Games being on a bus by himself and headed in the wrong direction...and it might not be about that either.
It's about the role of sports administrators and why in the same way we demand the best from our sports representatives we should also expect no less from those who are sent by the country to ensure that things run as smoothly as possible.
The job descriptions for administrators, technical leaders, managers, or whatever title or roles they take on can be as demanding as the athletes in the heat of battle, as the performance of the administrators can adversely affect the athletes who have spent years honing their talents.
Sadly, however, based on reports the world over, some of these administrators don't get it, they don't get what their roles are. Too many people get into sports administration for the perks and the free trips and the shopping.
Just as we have been blessed with some world-class sportsmen and sportswomen, Jamaica has been blessed with first-class administrators including the likes of former Jamaica Football Federation General Secretary Horace Reid, former World Netball President Molly Rhone, former Commonwealth Games President Mike Fennell, and former Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association bosses Neville “Teddy” McCook and Howard Aris.
With these giants paving the way, Jamaican sports representatives at every step of the way are expected to be at the top, or near to the top, of their game when it comes to carrying out their duties.
That's why it makes no sense at all that an athlete at the Olympic Games was on the wrong bus in Tokyo, Japan, recently, heading to an aquatic venue when he was supposed to be going to the track and field stadium for a semi-final.
One of the protocols the Japanese had put in place to restrict people, given the rising cases and record numbers of new novel coronavirus infections each day, was tracking just about everyone to ensure that they are where they are supposed to be with the use of apps on cellular phones.
Members of the media had to tell the organisers where they would be ahead of time, that is, they were only allowed to go to the venues where they would be covering their athletes and were threatened with having their accreditation withdrawn if they were found in places they had no professional reasons to be.
Lets not get it twisted, there cannot be sports without sports administrators. However, it was never about administrators, it is not about administrators, and it will never be about administrators. At the very top rung it is, was, and will always be about the athletes.
Too many people in administration, and coaches at times, are trying too hard to compete with the athletes for attention and popularity.
The jobs of managers and administrators are not easy, in some cases, and depending on the sport, managers have to go ahead of the main party to ensure everything is in place in a bid to ensure the athletes can settle down as quickly as possible upon arrival at hotels and so on.
Meal schedules must be worked out; transportation, if necessary, to and from the hotel and venue; physiotherapist appointments; sorting gear at times; and what some might find to be minor details must be ironed out.
Most times managers/administrators are awake long before the athletes, and after working all day can be the last to go to bed, and in some sports, like track and field, might not be able to see a single event live as their responsibilities are not at the stadium, but at the hotel.
Not every single event will have these guidelines and most will afford administrative staff the opportunity to watch events, but that is not their main purpose when they sign up for the assignments.
And, yes, there should be perks, but in my opinion, only those who do their jobs well are deserving.
Too often, though, we see long lists of officials accompanying national teams to overseas assignments, and while we hope these are in keeping with regulations, it often begs the question: Should we carry some of these people who are only there for the free ride?
What has also become the norm across several sporting federations are free trips given as repayment for votes in elections. But are they really free when it's taxpayers' money that pays for most of these trips, or monies from sponsorships?
Lately, this practice has become more brazen as federations believe they are above being asked questions and are a law to themselves.
But we can only hope that accountability will demand that people who not only know what they are doing, but actually put in the work will be the ones given the assignments.