Sports and potential

Me, I’m not a sports guy. Not that I hate it: I love playing softball; could slam a few tennis balls; I used to cycle; was great at sprinting and long jumping. I love swimming, but I’m no good at it. My friends and I call my style of swimming “sinking”. I was no pro at sports, good at some activities; lousy at most but always loved the challenge.

I received a few messages during this week about last week’s Culture Box on the importance of literature, drama and artistic teaching to reform our education system. Yes, that artistic education I received groomed me but as someone rightfully pointed out, I cannot leave out Physical Education in the call for a transformed, twenty-first century education system.

culture boxPhysical Education (PE) was compulsory in my school even in senior year when we had SBAs and other CXC responsibilities like studying and paying attention to the curriculum and all those boring stuff I still don’t like to do in this, my third and penultimate year in university. But it was never a bother, not that we didn’t enjoy running around the school’s field before 40 minutes of sports and exercises. We welcomed the break and found that it was just as mentally tickling as other subjects.

But PE was not just about the practical aspects of exercising, there was the theoretical aspect of it. I, for one, would rather be jumping up and down; naturally I found PE theory boring, but it was necessary. It was structured to give the students the best of a subject that should not be seen as a free time for frolic but actual education. Theory classes in PE had human and social biology; CPR, the body organs and how they are harmed by certain substances and how to counter effect that harm and how the organs react to physical exercise. There were lessons on the rules and organisation of football and cricket, lawn tennis and basketball and all the other sports that we endured throughout five years of schooling. Every year we were exposed to a new sport and one term per year we had theory lessons.

There is no doubt that PE is just as important as Math, English, Social Studies and all of the 15 other subjects we had to endure throughout the secondary curriculum. Thank God we had 40 minutes to efficiently re-wire our brains into something less demanding but still indispensable.

Now for today in sports: A few weeks ago I met a sports journalist based in Jamaica who is a frequent visitor to these shores. While he could talk fluently about my work, sad to say I knew very little about his. As I said, I’m not a sports guy. However, that doesn’t mean I should be ignorant about local sporting activities.

Our discussion didn’t end because of my lack of knowledge though. He was a nice young man (young journalist like myself, jolly people we be) so he enlightened me. He shared his opinions and I offered my views and we both came to a consensus: Sports in Guyana are not on the level they should be.

In his opinion, Guyana has limited government investment, minute corporate sponsorship and practically non-existent fan support. As a local I agreed. But being a patriot, my rebuttal was that our Sports Ministry is building a synthetic track and investing a lot in improving sports in our country. He agreed.

However, sad to say, in most schools PE is the pits. School is where many athletes begin their journeys – but this rarely happens here. The few who are actually talented are the ones who are frustrated by lack of support and sponsorship. Like our artists they feel starved and some of them migrate and do better elsewhere.

We shouldn’t let this happen.

Our government needs to do what it can. People must lend support. Businesses can provide sponsorship. Come on Guyana!

I will start reading more sport sections so that the next time someone comes up to me and asks what I think of the local sports scene I will be able to have a fluent discourse about the potential I know we have.  (Jairo Rodrigues)

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