What’s the end? We know the means are irrelevant. Once the objective is achieved how it’s done does not matter. That ladies and gentlemen, is where we are. Once there are consequentialists in leadership positions there will always be debate about what is reprehensible or acceptable. Can the ends ever justify the means? Is doing anything whatsoever to get the result you want, regardless of the methods used okay? Does it matter whether these methods are legal or illegal, truth or lies, democratic or dictatorial? Where does one draw the line? Can questionable means justify an exemplary end? Are there no rules that cannot be broken or bent? Can we move forward if we are always prepared to sacrifice the future for present success? Is it acceptable to tolerate leaders who believe that the end justifies the means? If so, under what circumstances? What are the implications and are these implications positive or negative? Can there be sustainable development when there are individuals in leadership position who over excel when it comes to destructive habits?
There are individuals who will put forward the view that because they have assets such as money, power and influence and have a track record of Machiavellian success that those attributes qualify them for leadership. What is more important? Integrity and credibility, a track record of accountability and honesty? Or is the ability to get things done regardless of methods the defining factor? If one is to be guided by the history of mankind then it is safe to say that leaders who have as their moral compass the view that the end justifies the means, have inflicted more suffering and harm than good. What has resulted from such an approach is poor governance and leadership mediocrity. It is a slippery slope. Is a track record of good governance important? Is the absence of such a track record a sign of a leadership and stewardship crisis? Accepting mediocrity will only encourage more mediocrity. Stakeholders must stop making excuses for inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour. Don’t celebrate the wrong things. How things are done must matter. Future leaders will be shaped by what they see, hear and experience. Are they being taught the right values? Are they seeing that integrity, ethics and honesty matters?
Sport gets its leaders, coaches and athletes and officials from the wider society. What happens outside of sport prevailing attitudes, norms, culture and values matter. Sport has a stake in what’s happening in the wider operational environment. From a strategic perspective there are threats that complicate internal weaknesses. The sport sector must think through the broader issues and not be contented to simply “cool yourself, relax and take what you can get. Don’t go looking for trouble.” This column appreciates that it is important to remain humble and grateful and that gratitude is a sacred place where you allow and know that a force greater than your ego is at work. However this is not about fear, anger, despair or frustration. This is about the belief and conviction that we are not fulfilling our true potential as a nation, a people or a society and in sport. We can only improve if we acknowledge our shortcomings, failures and mistakes and question our assumptions and indulgences. Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, Robert Mugabe, Papa Doc Duvalier, Idi Amin and Pol Pot to name but a few showed us that there is no evil that cannot be condoned or rationalised. In closing, I wish to express sincerest condolences to the families and friends of Messrs Compton Gonsalves, David Cumberbatch and Noel Luces. Their contributions to sport and by extension the nation have been invaluable. Rest in peace gentlemen.
Brian Lewis is the Honorary Secretary General of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee http// www.ttoc.org. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the TTOC.