President , Sports Press Association of Grenada
ST GEORGE'S, July 24, 2009 - It wasn’t surprising that when junior track stars Kirani James and Nickhelia John and their coach recently returned to Grenada from the IAAF World Youth Championships in Italy to a reception at the Maurice Bishop International Airport that local media attention immediately shifted from the athletes’ performances to the non-appearance of the youngsters' parents at the welcome home.
Ironically, the same media which deemed James and John’s exploits insufficient and unworthy of consideration for the lead story in their newscasts or on their newspaper front pages, attempted to create a storm in a teacup over the absence of the parents.
On this note, the Grenada Athletics Association must be commended for taking the bold step of apologizing to the parents for the obviously unintentional omission that occurred at the MBIA reception.
Lest the media forget, it was just two months ago that a group of athletes, led by world champion Kirani James, assembled in the same area after the Junior CARIFTA Games, minus the parents. There was no public outcry then.
It brings me to the point I have been making over the past few years that support for our sportsmen and women is pathetic and insincere. We love to bask in the glory of these aspiring icons and loathe to honour them.
The fact that Kirani James grew up in a very tough neighbourhood called “Gun Battle” in the parish of St. John is more reason why the media should also highlight the positivity of his exploits. James’ triumph over adversity should become a regular part of sports coverage and not limited to moments of glory at events like the IAAF World Youth Championships.
Sadly, sensationalism is the order of the day and it’s playing a major role in determining the quality of the journalism profession.
As a matter of fact a sports administrator said that a journalist showed more interest when he faked a story about a youth chopping another in the Gun Battle community. “The journalist was hungry for more details and persons that could be contacted. The same journalist showed no similar interest, though, in checking the IAAF website to get details about Kirani,” the administrator said.
The latest example of the sensational trend in sports reporting occurred when a local television titled its headline sports story, “Football season opens in front of empty stands.” No effort was made to find out why the format for the opening of the season was changed. Even though two games were played as indicated in the brief story, no effort was made to provide the scores.
But who must be blamed for this poor state of sports reporting in Grenada? Media managers must take full responsibility since they have failed to take remedial action over the years.
As late as seven years ago the Grenada Broadcasting Network had two full-time sports reporters under the management of Hamlet Mark, Troy Garvey and Richard Purcell. They received quarterly and sometimes monthly updates on sporting events for possible live coverage on the network. Unfortunately, that practice ended with their departure and no attempts were made to permanently fill the void.
I am not aware of any full-time sports reporters at any of the other media houses – electronic or print.
I am appealing to media managers to tap the services and expertise of people like Alvin Clouden (photography), Ian “Flyers” Redhead, Trevor Thwaites, Ray Roberts, Harold Pysadee, Rawle Titus, Michael Bascombe, Irvine Simon, Hamlet Mark, Derek Seon, Cheney Joseph, Pele Darbeau, Anthony “Jericho” Greenidge, Paul Roberts, Selwin Noel, Carlos Thomas, Stephenson Worme, Lester Smith, Claudius George, Lincoln “Toro” Depradine, among others. All of these individuals were instrumental in the development of sports reporting in the ‘80s and early ‘90s.
There used to be special media features dedicated to sports such as The weekly Sunday Sports programme, organised by the Department of Sports and hosted by Carlos Thomas, the annual “Brain of Sports” Quiz Contest hosted by Ray Roberts and the weekly Saturday Sports Special hosted by a number of sports journalists over the years. Now, the main programme is Sunday Sports hosted by New York-based Harold Pysadee.
And despite the latter providing the content free to radio stations, by and large Harold's efforts go unnoticed and unappreciated.