Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.







**You may contact me by e-mail at livinginbarbados[at]gmail[dot]com**

Monday, September 14, 2009

From The Sublime To The Ridiculous To The Sublime To The Ridiculous Again

I love sports, playing, watching, coaching, discussing, reviewing memorable moments. I have had a lot of all of that over the past two weeks. I wont go into the details but will focus on what I can take from it all as a viewer and someone who cares about how sports and sportsmen and women develop and comport themselves.

The Sublime: Jamaica's Usain Bolt winning the double 100/200 metres at the World Championships, and doing it again with new world records; the Jamaican team did the expected and won the 4x100 metres relay, helped by the Americans' repeated failure to understand that the baton is part of the race.

The Ridiculous: The furore over South African runner, Caster Semenya's sexual make up (see Times report). Yes, it matters if she is more part man if she is entered against athletes who are supposed to be all woman. But, you have to reflect on the timing and tastefulness with which officialdom dealt with this. Some friends of mine say it's good that intersex will rule and somehow think that ah hermaphrodite can compete well with men. No way. He/she may have more ability than an average/excellent woman but will still be less than an excellent/average man. If this goes on, and we know that the body has its own natural balance, we may need to develop a 3rd category for sports. Any takers for 'undecided'?

The Sublime: I thought I had seen all of the great things that Switzerland's Roger Federer could do on a tennis court. That was until I say 'the shot' last night. Watch the video and let the action speak for itself.

He has made some other stunning shots but to do this to get 'break point' in a semi final is like a dream for a player. It takes lots of practice to do trick shots well and the luck is having the chance to play them at crucial moments.

The Ridiculous: This has to be the Serena moment of lack of serenity in the women's semi-finals at the US Open. I have only seen the replays of how the younger Williams sister melted down. People say a lot about the brashness of this American athlete, who is more 'in your face' than most. She's called other players out for 'cheating' and reminded them that she is from Compton. No excuses for her losing her cool, except that a key call by an official at a key point in a match is not trivial. When the player is convinced that the call is wrong then sense goes: replays show that Serena was right and the official wrong. But, so much was mishandled at the time and I wonder whether it would have been too much for the chair umpire to have used her microphone to issue a verbal warning so that the player would stop and think. Things happened slowly enough for a lot of preventative actions. I hope that after this incident, replay will be used for foot faults, which are bizarre;y defined and also odd as the only call in tennis that is left to one official and is not able to be overturned by the chair umpire. (see the video). If you want to see how the matter could have deteriorated look back at the infamous night match between Ilie Nastase and John McEnroe: McEnroe is the one not saying anything.

The Sublime: Barbados' Ryan Brathwaite winning the men's 110 metres hurdles final in Berlin, in a national record. He created history as the country first gold medallist in a major international meet.

The Ridiculous: The inability of the Barbadian delegation to react to the fact that he had the fastest semi-final time; he had a new national record in the semis; and the reigning Olympic champion Dayron Robles had fallen in his semi and was out. So they had a few hours to organize themselves to be at the finish line to hail at least an expected medalist. But, no. They camped out in their box near the 200 meter start and when the boy won they did not have a soul nearby to cheer him or give him the now obligatory flag for display. Way to stand up for the nation! When he reached near their nest out came a flag (I wont say from where it came as that too is embarrassing). Now, the boy is being lauded and there will be ticker tape style welcome for him on Thursday. Ask any Bajan if they had heard of Ryan Brathwaite before the competition and I will be all that I have you get more 'no' than 'yes'. Remember that this country's TV company did not see fit to buy the rights to show the championship. But if you do not understand how it is that a country does not produce many great athletes just look at how the administrators maladminster at all levels. Any one want to make a comment about Jamaica? Tek weh yu self!


Sargeant said...

I watched the Serena/Clijsters match and Serena was angry throughout the match. I thought that she was frustrated because Clijters was giving her more than she could handle and Serena was not prepared for the level of Clijsters’ game as evidenced by Serena’s post game interview when she said that she would know how to prepare for Clijsters next time .l also think that it was egregious that the official would make a call like that at that stage of the match when she clearly did not have a good view. The USTA will ensure that the lineswoman will never work an important game again.

It was interesting listening to Dick Enberg and Mary Carillo castigating Serena while John McEnroe was mostly silent. While I don’t condone Serena’a action perhaps you should watch the You tube highlights of her 2004 loss to J Capriatii when several bad calls went against her, or when she broke down in tears after a match against Henin at the French Open when she accused Henin of calling time on her serve and then denying it when the serve went wide. Vince Lombardi once said “show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser”, all athletes want to win witness Federer’s meltdown last year at Wimbledon when Nadal confirmed a year long superiority over him ( I didn’t see today’s match so I don’t know how he reacted this loss). Correction I just saw a clip of him using some four letter words to the Chair after Del Porto made a “late” challenge to a ball which was called “out”.

As for Compton, the Williams sisters don’t mention it, they have lived in Florida longer than they lived in Cali, but Compton is brought up by the Press to remind everyone of how far they’ve come.

15 September 2009 04:15

Dennis Jones said...

(Sargeant, if you send me an e-mail I will forward the original comments as they arrived; without signature. But thanks for the correct attribution.)

Serena mentioned Compton in a press conference after she accused Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez of cheating at the French Open, see http://ballhype.com/video/serena_williams_acuses_martinez_sanchez_of_cheating/.

Champions need more than a bit of grit and it sometimes comes out as abuse in stressful conditions.

I did not hear Federer use a four letter word, but he did say to the umpire words like "Dont tell me to be quiet. I'll talk if I want." The umpire said nothing more.

Umpiring needs to get some standards established, and we are seeing the level of frustration rise with the challenge system, where some players make them fast (eg Federer) while others seem to want to consult the world first; not helped by umpires who get into a discussion about whether or not a player is going to challenge.

15 September 2009 04:23