Is This the end of the amateur?

Ruthven Baptiste
Date Published: 

The Maple club has taken the lead from other POSFL clubs in offering financial rewards to their footballers. Each player will receive $5 for a match drawn, $10 for a match won and $20 for any member selected on the national team. Already Russell Texeira, Trevor Leiba and Godfrey Harris have benefited from the scheme for their recent participation in the series between Trinidad and Barbados.

The TFA has announced the abandonment of the Hayward Shield inter-league series in favour of a national professional league organised on an inter-club basis.

Whatever the limitations of the efforts by both Maple and TFA their actions are steps in the right direction. What is of some concern is the sniffling by many people at the idea of professionalism.

While the concept of amateurism reads beautiful on paper and a beautiful case can be made for it in the abstract, in practice it is something else. Whereas amateurism is demanded of players, organisers charge spectators an entrance fee. For amateurism to have any meaning it out to be demanded of everyone involved; players, organisers and spectators.

When spectators pay at the gate, organisers receive lavish honorariums, or companies charge ground rentals and amateurism is required of players, then amateurism becomes an iniquitous exploitation of free labour.

Many people do call for amateurism without seeing the perversion of it, but there is an administrative type who calls for it and is vehement about keeping politics out of sport.

There are also people who seriously believe that politics should be kept out of sport. Where that belief is genuine people really mean keep cheap politics out of sport. It is really a reaction to mere announcements and empty promises as opposed to serious and constructive planning. In that case we should go further to say, lets keep cheap politics out of politics.

However, where there is exploitation of free labour and abuses of other kinds, then the demand to keep politics out of sport, especially by that administrative type becomes an obsession, a fear of public scrutiny the most crucial aspect of democratic politics.

The biggest single problem in our sport is the absence of politics. The absence of governmental politics, that is. There is virtually no national programme for sport in the country and it is only a reflection of the creativity and wit of our people that sporting activity is going on regardless.

Merely to get government to acquire a tennis robot was impossible. A tennis robot is a machine that can play any known shot in a game ten times better than the most skillful human can. It can chop, top spin and loop with unerring accuracy repeatedly.

The machine was developed by the Swedes and was on demonstration here recently. The tennis association could not afford to buy it and government wouldn't. If the other islands purchase one and allow their players to practise with it, the opportunity it will give those players to refine technique will put us at a serious disadvantage at the next Caribbean championships.