by Neville Clarke
Barbadians seem to be too quick to shower praise on their athletes who excel in one-off performances.
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart raised this concern today following a tour of the Barbados Olympic Association Museum at the association’s headquarters in Wildey, St Michael.
In raising this concern he said: “You get a flash in the pan, a one-off performance, and a red carpet is rolled out for the performer. He or she is crowned with laurels, and becomes a hero overnight. There is nothing called overnight heroism; there is nothing called overnight genius. This whole idea of heroism and genius calls for a certain amount of “sticktoitiveness”, a certain amount of stamina. If there is anything that has happened in this country over the last 25 years that has caused me the greatest possible concern, which has nothing to do with my being Prime Minister or anything else, as a citizen of Barbados, is watching these one-off performances qualifying people for coronation. Making people feel that they are geniuses overnight. It does not happen that way.”
Stuart said that the real geniuses of Barbados had to go through full careers, long careers slugging away at it, in order to reach the stage where they could be called great. He noted that this was an aspect which Barbadians had to watch. Stuart added that unfortunately it was not only a feature of what was happening here in Barbados, as he had observed that the same trend was developing in other parts the Caribbean.
“It does not work that way. People have to understand the importance of sticking to the task; of running the full race and running it more than once and doing well more than once so that when you decide that you are going to describe them as great, when you determine that you are going to put a crown on their heads, they really deserve that crown. No one-off flash in the pan performances merits hero status.
“I see that in another sphere, in another sport if a bowler gets five wickets he qualifies for his name to be put in a walk of fame. It really does not work that way, but satisfying ourselves with mediocrity is not going to get Barbados anywhere. One off performances is not going to get us anywhere whether we are talking about sport or any other sphere of human endeavour. What we want is consistent pursuit of the highest possible standards in our national life and no better place to start than in the area of sport that attracts people from the cradle to the grave,” Stuart added.
Stuart welcomed the opportunity offered to visit the museum and stressed that he had taken note of the challenges the association was facing and promised to meet with the Minister of Sport and other relevant stakeholders to see how they can make the BOA’s task easier.
President of the BOA Steve Stoute thanked the Prime Minister for his sentiments which he said the members of the BOA needed and were encouraged to hear.
Stoute further stated that he appreciated that the Prime Minister had taken time to visit the centre which has received acclaim from sporting officials who said it was one of the best smaller museums within the entire olympic movement.