Don’t envy the athletes

October 21, 2016
Darien Robertson/Freelance Photographer Ledgendary sprinter Usain Bolt (left) and sub-10 king Asafa Powell (right) at the recent Rio celebrations gala and awards ceremony at the National Indoor Sports Centre. Master of ceremonies Jerry D is at centre.

 

Since last weekend there has been debate over whether Government should have spent $82 million celebrating the achievements of our athletes in Rio.

People argued that the money could have been better spent elsewhere. They argue that hospitals need beds and the police need cars.

They argued that the Government was paying athletes who were already rich money for something that they do largely for themselves.

To all these naysayers I say poppycock.

Just to hear the athletes express their gratitude for what was done in their honour was worth the $82 million.

Too many of us however, feel that the government wasted money on the three-day celebrations. Maybe three days was one day too many, but I will never argue that they spend was a waste.

 

positive exposure

 

I would argue, however, that we still owe the athletes some money because the positive exposure they give this country we could never pay for. The success of the athletes help deflect attention from the dire financial straits this country finds itself in and the rampant crime that is threatening to derail everything that has been achieved in the past few years in trying to get Jamaica's economy back on track.

The athletes also bring a much-needed feel-good factor to a people who spend most days trying to survive to the next. Hardships there are but the grass is green and the sun shineth. That is what the colours of the national flag represents. The black is represents the hardship and the gold, in this day and age, represents the athletes.

They are the shining stars that make us all forget our troubles even in the toughest of times.

There is no amount of money in the world that can pay for that.

Having said that, there is a misconception that all our athletes are rich. Not true. There are a handful of athletes who could be described as being rich. Most of them are hungry, struggling people, trying to use their athletic talents to make a breakthrough so they can help themselves and their families.

Many struggle like you and I. They wake up each day with bills to pay, food to find and figuring out how to keep a roof over their heads. So when the Government decides to share up some money between them, don't envy them.

 

daily struggles

 

Instead, be happy for them because they really need it and those few thousand US dollars could make the difference between them quitting or carrying on.

We tend only to see our athletes when they are on the track or in the field vying for medals. We don't know their daily struggles with injuries, trying to eat right, and being able to afford medication should they get injured.

We can't relate to the idea that many of our athletes go hungry for days because they don't work otherwise but have to commit to training under a coach who they have to pay. We can't relate to the idea of them paying for visas so they can travel to meets just to be able to earn a small change that can tide them over until their agent finds them another meet to compete at.

There are many more challenges that the athletes face each day but they continue to do us proud even when we curse them and call them worthless when they fail to meet our expectations.

Going forward however, I think we need to become more aware of the value these kids to Jamaica. When we do we will realize the sacrifices they make and, in most cases, the little reward they receive in return.

We will also come to realize that $82 million Jamaican dollars is a small price to pay for the abundance of joy they bring us each year.

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