Great dangers in sport excellence

It is not being cynical to suggest here that there is an increasing tendency for patrons of sports to acknowledge now that competition is less about the individual athlete’s skills but more about which chemist is bes
t. The better the chemist the more successful the athlete.

Increasingly sport as an industry has become less about the inculcation and dissemination of positive values and more about winning at all cost. The deep desire for financial success through sport has meant yet again that the more developed societies would also produce the greatest number of drug users and continue to dominate the top positions in the different sporting disciplines.

Increasingly, we are coming to the recognition that the performance gap between athletes from the developed and developing nations is widening in the sprints, technical and power events. This does not seem to be occurring by chance. The capacity of the human body to go faster, jump farther and higher and throw farther seems to be extending beyond reasonable limits. Today’s children and youths have access to information and engage in unsolicited research. They know, at a much earlier age, what is an acceptable performance and what is the fanciful end product of the use of performance enhancing drugs. Indeed, most spectators to sporting events are aware while watching the competition who is and who isn’t ‘on something’.

Our children are being given very poor examples to follow and we seem unable to convince them that they should stay within the confines of the rules of fair play.

The National Olympic Academy (NOA) here is hard-pressed in its efforts to educate Vincentian youth on the positive values of sport and sporting excellence. The examples of the pervasive nature of cheating in sport seem to work against the mission of the NOA.

The fight against drug in sport, led as it is by WADA does not appear to be impacting the world of sport. Like harsher criminal laws in the fight against crime in society, the penalties handed down by WADA have little effect on the scourge. Educational forums are not sufficiently strong. This is made worse by the lack of good examples in sport. Former athletes who know the pain of preparing for top-level competition seem ashamed of the ease with which today’s athletes seem to be able to compete so frequently and maintain such a high level of achievement.