At the bottom of it all, however, there is no real regional unity that has emerged from West Indies cricket.
The Caribbean has made significant strides in Athletics for several decades. We have had some outstanding Caribbean athletes who represented Great Britain prior to the onset of the independence movement in the region. Interestingly, the colonial movement had its privileges from the vantage point of some of our athletes and they opted to compete in athletics for the coloniser, Britain, even when the international sporting community officially recognised the Caribbean countries of their birth.
The Jamaicans blazed a trail for others to follow with tremendous successes in the 1948 and 1952 Olympic Games. Since then several other Caribbean islands have had their names mounted on the medals table of the Olympic Games.
The International Olympic Movement has repeatedly extolled the virtues of Olympism and endorsed this as a way of life that places sport at the very core of the genuine development of peoples everywhere. Unity is one of the primary principles of Olympic sport. Unfortunately, however, for all of the efforts of the Olympic Movement there is little evidence of regional unity through sport.
Jamaica’s success at the Olympics, including the most recent edition in Beijing, China, remains essentially a Jamaican achievement and not Caribbean. This is the way it has been promoted internationally, and even though the entire Caribbean identifies with Jamaica’s success, it really does not amount to any form, of regionalism in reality.
The region’s sport loving people are proud of the achievements of Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, the Bahamas, St Kitts and Nevis and the Netherlands Antilles but this has not really impacted the process of regional unity in any significant way.
It is most unfortunate that while we may be able to point to the achievements of Usain Bolt and others, we have not as a people sufficiently understood the imperative of regionalism enough to be able to have these translated into a strong case for us working more closely together. Further evidence of this is the inability of the stronger athletic nations of the region to establish some mechanism for the improvement of the sport in the region on a broader basis.