Professional sport is not a dumb game – Jamaica Observer

Rene Simoes

Nope the importance of sport in national development is disputed, but despite the outstanding success that Jamaica and the Caribbean have reaped, we continue to ignore a very critical aspect of sport – the mind.

We can also agree that professional sports is not just a game. A game is a hobby that is engaged in for fun and entertainment. Professional sports, on the other hand, is a complex, global enterprise involving billions of dollars and a large number of specialists, many of whom never make it to the playing field.

Jamaica is a successful world leader in athletics because it is a very organized and very professional company. Obviously, we have exceptional talent in quantity and quality, but it becomes world-class because it is approached as a well-organized and professionalized company.

Its prestige and financial success inspire people to invest their talent at an early age, now even at the prep school level, to be developed by professional coaches, many of them former world-class professional athletes. Much of this is manifested in the Boys’ and Girls’ Championships, a unique sporting event in the world of athletics.

Compare that to cricket’s miserable failure since the heyday of being the longest world champion in any sport, and football, with just one World Cup finals qualification in 60 years. The main problem is the weakness of the Caribbean professional sports of cricket and football.

As explained by former football manager, Mr. Rene Simoes, what is on the pitch begins and reflects the organization and administration off the pitch. This is confirmed by the lamentable and repeated incompetence of those responsible for the administration of West Indian cricket and Jamaican football.

It is also seen in the failure to secure full buy-in from governments in the region and tangible contributions from the private sector, and the frequent public disputes with stakeholders over pay and working conditions.

Coaching and management need to be more professionalised. A former player does not necessarily make a good coach or team manager. If one aspires to be world class, then one must be willing to pay for a world class professional.

Another mental aspect of losing is the failure to properly prepare for a professional performance and to study every opponent for every game, not just the team as a whole but the individual members.

Use computerized data and study the film of our two players to overcome weaknesses and analyze opponents to identify their weaknesses. We shouldn’t accept an apology from a pro who isn’t hurt for failing a fitness test. If they do or even arrive late for training, there should be financial penalties like those in the United States.

Caribbean professional players have no excuse for the nervous breakdown that allows opponents to score a goal or two in the last 10 minutes of a match against the Reggae Boyz. Irrational shot selection and the inability to catch and throw the line and length in cricket is unprofessional.

The current team cannot concentrate for 20 overs let alone four days of a test match. Only in Jamaican football and West Indies cricket is there no cure or penalty for losing due to mental lapses and lack of sustained concentration.

Sara R. Cicero