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‘We’ve failed our sporting public’

Friday, November 16, 2012
Do we really love sport in T&T? Sometimes I tend to answer that question with pride, especially when one is reminiscing about sporting events which have remained indelibly in our photographic memory. 
Some of us are old enough to recall the times when a radio was the most potent means of getting in touch with our sporting heroes, idolising them without even seeing them in person. 
The advent of TV in the early 60s was a large step forward, where we were now identifying visually the personalities who have brought joy to our hearts, regardless of whether or not we went to the venues. 
Those days, like the present time, we were able to slap our chests with pride that our country won an Olympic or a Pan Am games or Commonwealth games medal. 
As we try to compare many moons ago with the current scenario, the comparison has been nothing less than a downhill slide when it refers to how the joy of sport is being brought to our homes. 
This transition has been gradual in the early stages, but has now reached a most disgusting state where we can no longer turn on our radios or TV sets in order to see our national teams play. 
With a huge number of radio stations and TV companies on the airwaves all day and night, it is mysterious to understand what has gone wrong with this method of communication in the way that the famous voices of the late Raffie Knowles, Tony Wiilliams, Dave Elcock, Mervyn Telfer, Holly Betaudier and the vast number of commentators whose presentations were joyfully accepted in the exciting atmosphere from the venues where performances take place. 
Today, this country is faced with a situation where the local radio stations have to purchase rights from outside organisations in order to hear events which are taking place in our country. 
It is even worse when individual rights are granted to the foreign companies to enter this country to do broadcasts, while the locals are not permitted to do same. 
Cricket happens to be the sport which is most monopolised by our foreign friends, and by extension, deprives the local stations the right to serve their own society. 
Maybe we are too “tunnel visioned” to understand that these drastic changes in sports broadcasting policies have deprived a large section of our communities of having full access to being part of our sporting audience. 
It was most painful to know that our national football team played in an official tournament in Tobago and NOT ONE media station saw it necessary to bring even a radio commentary. 
But these are the same conglomerates who spend enormous sums of money to bring all sorts of obsolete foreign stuff, some of which are not even compatible with our fancy. 
Local advertisers are paying large sums of money to pay for mileage amidst foreign shows, much more than they spend on the local events. 
Once again, the arrow points clearly at the local sporting organisations, who are so naïve that they do not see activity that falls under their area of responsibility to be a revenue earner to them. 
They will much prefer to knock at the doors of the public purse to beg for handouts rather than to use the commodity which belongs entirely to them. 
It is high time that our leaders pay some attention to the role of our locals in sport and culture where their performances can provide the recipe to prevent and cure the frequent complain of stress related illnesses. 
Our radio and television friends need to address this situation carefully in order to reach the masses with the products which the business sector spends enormous sums of money to promote and advertise their goods and services. 


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