by PAUL REID,
Thursday, April 09, 2015
Lovers of track and field all over the North America, Central America and Caribbean Athletic Associations (NACAC) region and even parts of England were subjected to one of the worst display of sports broadcasting during the 44th CARIFTA Games held at the Kim Collins Stadium in Basseterre, St Kitts last weekend.
What should have been another celebration of the wonderful talents of the top regional junior track and field athletes turned into a farce with four days of the worst ‘sports journalism’ seen anywhere.
Even worse was the absence of basic equipment that is standard anywhere at a track and field meet, not to mention an international championship of that magnitude.
The broadcast was unpalatable and at times down right comical and farcical, and well below what has become the norm and what is expected, especially when broadcast rights are being sold.
Mr Victor Lopez, president of NACAC who was in attendance, must make it a priority to see that what has become one of the top junior track and field carnivals in the world is not allowed to get watered down or transformed into some bacchanal of sorts where partying and making noise in the stands overshadow the talent on the track and on the field.
This championship, the brainchild of track and field visionary Austin Sealy, has helped to produce and nurture generations of track and field athletes who have gone on to achieve greatness.
Double World Record holder Usain Bolt got his first taste of international competition at the CARIFTA Games and broke his first World Record in Bermuda in 2004.
The world got it’s first glimpse of Sprint Legend Kim Collins at the 1995 CARIFTA Games in Guyana. Incidently the highlight of this past Weekends Games was renaming of the Athletic stadium in honor of Collins.
The likes of Ato Boldon, Kirani James, Veronica Campbell Brown, Kim Collins, Pauline Davis, Christine Aaron of Guadeloupe who went on to compete for France, Obadele Thompson and Debbie Ferguson all cut their teeth at the CARIFTA Games.
Two years ago we saw trainee officials interfering with athletes in the Bahamas, and last year in Martinique we were fed a diet of French whether we liked it or not.
We have come a far way, however, with the live broadcast of the championships on television and the internet. Not so long ago, we had to wait until the teams returned home to get information.
But that cannot be enough. We must demand more and demand quality.
Every championship organised by the IAAF has the same basic standard, whether in Morocco, Athens, Berlin, Moncton, Canada or Kingston, Jamaica.
A finish line clock should not be a luxury, nor should be announcers with a little idea of what they are watching.
Last weekend we got the impression the emphasis was more on getting the crowd excited with buffoonery, rather than informing fans inside the stadium and those watching on TV about what was happening on the tract and on the field.
Not only were the announcers completely unaware of the athletes they were reporting on, they appeared at times to be unaware of where they were. On Saturday, the lad announcer was wishing everyone ‘a happy Good Friday‘, at one time he thought he was at the Olympic Games and another time he announced that the record in the Under-20 boys’ 100m was set by Yohan Blake in 2015.
If that was not bad enough there was a character who called himself ‘Ivan Showtime’ doing track-side ‘interviews’ who should never have been allowed near a microphone at any sporting event.
In one of his not so lucid moments he asked an athlete what it felt like to be competing in a triathlon.
NACAC must ensure that wherever the meet is held, the best officials from around the region, quality announcers are hired well in advance and basic equipment are in place.
We know the quality of the track and field will be at world-class standards, we expect the organisation and everything else to be the same.