On Target
December 15, 2017
Local sports’ Christmas rush

Local sporting competitions have been entangled in a mad rush, helter-skelter, symptomatic of this time of year – Christmas.

At stake is the quest to have competitions packed and presented as gifts before the Yuletide season is fully in gear.

Over the last two weekends, there have been several closings of competitions.

In two instances, on successive Sundays, there were as many as three finals/closings in one day.

This mad rush last weekend saw the Barrouallie Football League cramming its semi-finals and final within a three-day period.

The semi-finals were staged on Friday and Saturday and final on Sunday.

This resulted in one team, Keartons United, being asked to play a bruising semi-final on Saturday, then return less than 24 hours later to go after the grand prize.

Such an arrangement cannot be good for the marketing of the sport and the physical demands of the players.

But as we are seeing, organizers of the various competitions, whether it be at the community level, or at the national level, are paying the price for their lack of plausible planning.

Yes, in some instances, there are attractive prizes to be won, but the festive mood of the country seems to have impacted negatively on the players themselves and spectators alike.

It is common knowledge that, like other parts of the Caribbean, Christmas time is a hustle for persons to make an extra dollar, so as to suffice their families to make it best through the festive period.

What results is a shift in priority from sports to doing overtime, side jobs and moonlighting.

This, therefore, calls for a shift in the way the conclusion of competitions are timed, as yearly, we are seeing a drop-off in attendance. Save and except for a handful of areas, this is the case.

Additionally, one also has to appreciate that social life in St Vincent and the Grenadines is forever changing; hence, people don’t need to go out and see sports, as they can stay in the luxury of their homes and be fed with multiple events via electronic devices.

Despite these being realities of change, the clashing of finals, especially in one sporting discipline, does not augur well for planning and co-operation among the various organizers of these community and national events.

It is true that some of these may occur in different locales, and will draw the respective home support.

But it is equally factual that many of the sports loving public take as a matter of course to move across the country and be part of finals.

The latter is compounded by the high value and pull factor placed on entertainment and side-shows, which these finals take on.

But do all competitions have to shut down on a Sunday?

Haven’t organizers acknowledged that the “Sunday Shopping”, which is taking root during the Christmas celebrations, is attracting more and more persons to Kingstown?

In recent times, the St Vincent and the Grenadines Netball Association has moved towards having their closing ceremonies on weekdays.

Similarly, the organizers of sporting competitions have gone a step further and are opening competitions on weekdays.

We saw, last weekend, Breakaway Masters hosting its league final on Friday.

And, while its knock-out final and closing ceremony was on Sunday, the latter drew a smaller attendance than the former.

A rethink and remodelling of the sports calendar are what we need, as Sundays are fast becoming family-type modes, days for rest and recuperation, and preparing for the new work week.

However, most critically, there needs to be more streamlining of these competitions, as most should not be clumped into one period of the year.

Who will take the necessery steps to get things more structured?