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Integrity of sport matters

Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Things that Matter
Fans show their support for the national football team during qualifying rounds for the FIFA World Cup in Germany 2006.

The declaration of true faith and allegiance to the greater good and the best interest of sport on the twin Island Republic is made by everyone actively involved in the administration and leadership of sport. 


It is the very same declaration law abiding citizens make to this our native land—Islands of the blue Caribbean Sea that we pledge our lives to serve.


What therefore has gone wrong or where have we gone wrong?


Is it acceptable for the sporting community to continue to close their eyes, heart and minds to the reality that the integrity of sport must be defended fearlessly without compromise or surrender?


To cower out of fear is to impose a terrible injustice not only the concept of fairplay and sportsmanship but more importantly to the young people of this nation.


We can plan and talk about policy, programmes and who don’t know what they doing and who don’t have what is required to administrate, lead and manage sport from now till thine kingdom come. But in the absence of integrity, honesty, ethics, transparency, equity and a commitment to do right. All fall down.


It makes little sense. Call it the framework, the eco system, the architecture or infrastructure. Whatever, it’s nothing but empty rhetoric and self-serving silo and empire building if the creation in whatever incarnation is devoid of integrity, honesty, ethics and equity.


There is neither excuse nor justification for tolerating and accepting wrong doing.


Sport in T&T will not sustainably develop, achieve and maintain its full potential in the absence of an unwavering dedication and commitment to uphold the integrity of sport and sport’s integrity.


Those who turn a blind eye are as culpable as those who are more than willing and comfortable to do what is wrong. There is no convenient explanation that is acceptable or tolerable.


Sport on the twin Island Republic and the integrity of sport must not be compromised by those who seek to extra rent from the system.


The values of sport must not be bartered for a bag of silver.


When unethical and corrupt acts are condoned it’s the young people who derive benefit from participating in sport who are the real victims.


It is incomprehensible in a small Island state comprised of just over 1.3 million inhabitants with 600 billion and counting T&T Dollars having passed through the economy that there are still cries that money is a problem.


The arithmetic doesn’t add up.


That’s a rough napkin calculation going back over the last decade. Billions!


But for all our grumpiness, the citizens of T&T are in many ways far better off than many around the globe.


Citizens of T&T continue to benefit from subsidies in education, electricity, water, transportation, housing etc. We are indeed blessed to live in T&T.


That reality however can’t mean that we must turn a blind eye to wrong doing.


If better can be done then we should demand that better be done.


There must be an intensified, sustained and fearless demand for the highest standard of ethics and integrity and a resource allocation system that has as its mandate serving rather than ruling.


The integrity of sport and sport’s integrity, its trustworthiness and potential to make a significant and constructive difference are non-negotiable. 


Creating an ethical, non- corrupt sport environment, strengthening institutional capacity and governance practices will take not only conscientiousness, activism and careful thought but unrestrained courage.


Sport matters. The integrity of sport matters.


Brian Lewis is the President of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC). The TTOC also acts as the T&T Commonwealth Games Association (TTCGA). The views expressed are not necessarily those of the TTOC or TTCGA.


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