ISSA, are you prepared for the future?

By Zaheer E. Clarke

 Published September 28, 2015

A look back in time at amateurism and the birth of professionalism in sports juxtaposed with present-day professional sports gives some foresight into what high school sports might be like in the future.

Marcus Garvey (c.) attended the renaming of the ship General G.W. Goethals to the S.S Booker T. Washington in 1925, after the ship was sold to Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association. (Photo credit: Unknown)

Marcus Garvey (c.) attended the renaming of the ship General G.W. Goethals to the S.S Booker T. Washington in 1925, after the ship was sold to Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association.
(Photo credit: Unknown)

Marcus Garvey once said, “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots.” So, as I often do on weekends, I ventured into the past, to keep rooted in the present, so that I’m prepared for the future.

Last weekend, I read an article published in 1931 by the Sydney Morning Herald about a staggering professional contract offered to Australian, Sir Don Bradman, the number-one batsman in the world then, and the most dominant batsman Test cricket has seen. The contract was worth potentially £500-1000 per annum for three years and was offered to him by the Accrington Cricket Club, a once prominent cricket club in Lancashire, England. As I read the article and later perused the offer telegram and other documents, I chuckled at the similarities and polarities of the past and present and paused to wonder, what other present views on sports or cricket will remain the same, or drastically change in the near or far futurity? Continue reading

Are We Greedy and Heartless?

By Zaheer E. Clarke

(Published September 8, 2015, in the Jamaica Observer)

In Jamaica's first appearance at the Summer Olympics in 1948, Jamaica finished first (Arthur Wint) and second (Herb McKenely in the 400m.

In Jamaica’s first appearance at the Summer Olympics in 1948, Jamaica finished first (Arthur Wint) and second (Herb McKenely) in the 400m.

The 400m and the corresponding 4x400m relays have been a beacon of pride for Jamaican Athletics long before Independence. In 1948, in its first participation in the Summer Olympics, Jamaica won gold and silver in the 400m through Arthur Wint and Herb McKenley respectively. In 1952, Jamaica repeated the feat, this time with George Rhoden winning the gold and Herb McKenley once again copping the silver medal. Similarly, in the inaugural 1983 IAAF World Championships, through Bert Cameron, Jamaica won gold in the 400m final.

 

Nevertheless, Jamaica had early disappointment in the relay version of this event. After qualifying with the second-fastest time behind the Americans heading into the 1948 Olympic final, Jamaica failed to finish the race when Arthur Wint pulled a muscle. Jamaica missed out on a potential medal with the Americans taking the gold.

(L-R) Arthur Wint, George Rhoden, Herb McKenley, and Les Laing captured 4x400m gold in Helsinki in 1952.

(L-R) Arthur Wint, George Rhoden, Herb McKenley, and Les Laing captured 4x400m gold in Helsinki in 1952.

In redemptive fashion, Jamaica won the gold in the 1952 Olympics, this time beating the Americans, with the same 1948 team of Wint, Leslie Laing, McKenley, and Rhoden. No muscles pulled this time, just the strings of Jamaican’s hearts overjoyed. Continue reading

Gatlin, not Bolt, saved athletics

By Zaheer E. Clarke

(Published September 1, 2015, in the Jamaica Observer)

Usain Bolt takes a breather after his gold medal-winning run in the 200m at the recent World Championships in Beijing China.

Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin share a laugh after the 200m at the recent World Championships in Beijing China.

Since 2008, Usain Bolt has been an indomitable force in athletics. He has won an unbelievable four individual Olympic gold medals and seven individual World Championship gold medals. This is no easy feat. However, in most sports, when an individual keeps dominating a sport by humongous margins, the lustre emitted and attentiveness he or she often attracts subside beyond a dwarf star. If they have no real competition, the ratings will fall, the fans will look at their superlative performances or achievements with a passing interest, and its position or rung will slip down the ladder of popularity or TV ratings among other sports.

Undeniably, Usain Bolt is an ultimate showman. His performances are accompanied with confidence and entertainment which attract large media attention, sponsors and fans. However, due to Bolt’s sporadic appearances on the circuit due to injuries, and his coach’s or his team’s circumspect management of his health and career — rightfully so — track and field’s grab on the public domain and amongst the sponsors wanes in his long absences. Continue reading