We are faced with such an ironic situation in this country, regarding sports development and the landscape on the whole.
Many Bahamian politicians have either been catapulted to unexpected social/professional heights by sports, or the association has been bountiful in some other way. We can go all the way back to the original organized government in the country, the United Bahamian Party (UBP).
The “UBP Boys” were steeped in sports success, international at that. They amounted to a virtual who’s who list of sporting luminaries, going all the way back to the 1930s, when the man who was to be the country’s first premier, Roland Symonette; his political right hand and the nation’s earlier financial czar Stafford Sands; and George Roberts were the catalysts for The Bahamas’ entry at a high level in world international sailing.
Some of the regional and world true greats of the water, Durward Knowles, Sloane Farrington, Robert “Bobby” Symonette, Cecil Cooke, Godfrey Kelly, Donnie Martinborough, Pierre Seighenthaler, Gavin Mckinney and Craig Symonette were spawned from the culture crafted by Roland, Stafford and George, the three of them, top Bahamian historical politicians.
The Bay Street Boys, in a social revolution, were ousted by the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) in 1976, with Lynden Pindling as the leader. Pindling would evolve into the acknowledged Father of the Nation (for being at the helm of a first independent nation, in 1973). During his very early years, he was a sprinter. It was he who, as prime minister in 1977, established the very first Ministry of Sports.
Pindling was prime minister for 25 years and during that long stint, the likes of Bernard Nottage, Leslie Miller, Malcolm Adderley, Cynthia Pratt, Neville Wisdom, Dr. Norman Gay, Valentine Grimes and others, all very synonymous with sports development, were in his fold.
When the Free National Movement (FNM) became a leading political force in 1992, its administration and support base included the likes of Kendal Isaacs, former “UBP Boys”, Arlington Butler and Desmond Bannister, huge sports personnel. Yet, budget after national budget, sports would be relegated to the bottom of the totem pole. Our politicians simply have never seen sports as being significant enough to be included among the top tier budget allocations.
On Wednesday of last week, the House of Assembly welcomed the new inductees to The Bahamas’ National Sports Hall of Fame. The great Bahamians were saluted and of course, the politicians wanted a photo with the stalwarts.
At this time, the Speaker of the House is Halson Moultrie, a man who has moved about in politics more than he did in sports, as a power forward who seemed to live just to bruise his opponents, physically. He played for both of the top rival basketball teams of the 1970s, the Kentucky Colonels and the Beck’s Cougars.
Another big shot in the House of Assembly these days, the one who signals the close of sessions on behalf of the governing Free National Movement, is none other than Renward Wells. He was once one of our fastest sprinters and a co-national holder at 10.18 seconds for the 100 meters. He announced the photo opportunity with the inductees.
Such has been the ongoing relationship between sports and our politicians. Sadly, missing has been the full respect from the politicians due to national sports development.
Will sports in this nation ever get justice from our politicians?
Today, I send the challenge out to this present lot of politicians who control our destinies. Begin paying appropriate attention to sports development, and the many men and women who have sacrificed so much to lift up Bahamaland with their efforts, locally, regionally and internationally.
• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org or on WhatsApp at (242) 727-6363.