SPORTS: DANCING BRAVE COLUMN FOR WEDNESDAY 20TH MARCH, 2013
By Andre E Baptiste
------- BEACON OR MIRAGE -----
Some light at the end of the tunnel was revealed when it was revealed/rumoured that well respected horseman Pierpont Scott was the government’s choice to head the currently inactive Trinidad and Tobago Racing Authority (TTRA). The appointment of a board for the TTRA is long overdue and it has apparently been accepted by all that racing is currently being conducted illegally by the Arima Race Club. The fact that this situation has been allowed to persist for as long as it has, is an indictment on the society that is Trinidad and Tobago. I am reminded of a joke that was recently shared with me:-
Last month, a world-wide telephone survey was conducted by the UN. The only question asked was: "Could you please give your honest opinion about solutions to the food shortage in the rest of the world?" The survey was a massive failure because of the following:
1. In Eastern Europe they didn't know what "honest" meant.
2. In Western Europe they didn't know what "shortage" meant.
3. In Africa they didn't know what "food" meant.
4. In China they didn't know what "opinion" meant.
5. In the Middle East they didn't know what "solution" meant.
6. In South America they didn't know what "please" meant.
7. In the USA they didn't know what "the rest of the world" meant.
8. In the UK they hung up as soon as they heard the Indian accent.
It seems that Trinidad and Tobago‘s sports shares a lot in common with Eastern Europe, China, the Middle East, South America and the USA. Those in authority seem to believe that they can continue to flaunt the rules of natural justice, fair play and common sense with no consequences.
Horse Racing is a global sport, and even in the Middle East, where gambling is not allowed, there are rules and regulations that govern how the sport is run. For people in Trinidad to believe that the sport can be governed in a haphazard and almost cavalier approach is an underestimation of giant proportions. Our horse racing is slowly but surely sliding towards the status of horse racing in our neighboring Caricom country, Guyana. In Guyana, it is almost a situation of anything goes – their various Racing Clubs setting their own rules and owners/trainers/jockeys being allowed to get away with virtually anything. While this is okay for them, and it could even be a natural step along the path towards establishing an accredited governing body for the sport across there, in Trinidad, we have been there and done that. It is extremely regressive for us to be going back to that sort of situation.
What is particularly worrying is that the current status quo does not bother or concern many people. Virtually everyone involved in the sport is continuing their business as if nothing is different. Now it is true that the presence of the TTRA is not seen by the majority of the general public but there are numerous potential pitfalls associated with its absence. Believe it or not, virtually anything can take place in the sport at the moment and there is no one to hold the transgressors accountable. Doping? That can happen and even though discovered, the individual can continue to participate in the sport until the TTRA is installed AND an investigation conducted. Suspensions? The ARC can suspend anyone they like, but once the individual appeals to the TTRA, the suspension will be “suspended” pending the outcome of the appeal, which will take place when the TTRA is installed AND the appeal heard.
Enquiries? People can enquire all they want, but there will be no definitive positions on the issue until the TTRA is installed AND the enquiry adjudicated upon. This is not even to mention the approval of the monthly/weekly racing programmes – which strictly speaking are all invalid unless approved by the TTRA. If that was not bad enough, the rules of racing clearly state that no horse will carry more than 56.5 kg in weight in any race in Trinidad, yet the ARC has unilaterally changed that ceiling to 58.5 kg. Until and unless approved by the TTRA, this change is invalid yet racing continues. Now is that any way for a country to conduct its affairs? Surely we are better than this.
As mentioned at the outset, the one name mentioned to date is an ideal candidate for the position and if he accepts/is offered would undoubtedly make a major difference to the manner in which the sport is conducted. He will need to have equally strong members on the Board but there are lots of candidates.
There is a dearth of honest (yes, some of us know what this word means) people who are willing to fearlessly share their opinions (yes, some of us know what this word means) so as to move this sport to a higher level.
This country is replete with pretenders who offer no real solutions (yes, some of us also know what this word means) while the doers bide their time.
The name called as Chairman falls into the latter category, let us hope the powers that be are serious about their intent and so rather than the mirages they have been throwing up for us, we have a true beacon for the sport’s future.
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