By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
It's the same old story every year - athletes not being able to get time off from their jobs to represent the country on the national team.
When are we going to fix this vexing problem that has existed in our society for so long?
There's no reason why athletes should be forced to take their vacation in order to make the trip after being selected to represent the country. Those are our athletes. They are representing this country called the Bahamas.
That's one of the major reasons why we don't always get to field the best possible teams because there are some athletes who just refuse to take their vacation time to compete at the international level.
Successive governments have come and gone and the problem has not yet been resolved. There should at least be some type of mechanism put in place to make life a little more easy and bearable for our elite athletes.
No wonder why we have not had a successful team in basketball, softball or baseball, three of our core sports. No wonder why track and field, swimming and boxing are still holding onto the lion's share of the spotlight.
No wonder why after a certain time in their careers, our top athletes are walking away from the team competition.
Track and field athletes, for the most part, have not been affected that much because the majority of them are on the government subvention programme where they receive a stipend every month to assist with their training expenses. On top of that, there are very few of them, if any, who are locked down in the demands of the working force.
They are free to roam and travel all over the world to compete and, in most cases, they receive some type of enumeration that can further their careers depending on their performances in the meets.
Our swimmers, who benefit from their collegiate experiences, are also in that unique position and so there is no need for them to be concerned about the job market while they are competing.
And the boxers have the luxury of training in Cuba through the assistance of the Bahamas Olympic Committee.
But what about those athletes who participate in our team sports?
There is no type of assistance provided for them because they have not yet reached the elite status where they are awarded the subvention or they are afforded the opportunity to travel here, there and everywhere without having to dip into their pockets to assist their national federations or associations just so that they can make the trip.
No wonder why we don't have any team sports emerging to the forefront or get the opportunity to be able to step it up in their bid to be in a position at a shot at qualifying for events like the Commonwealth Games, the World Championships and the Olympic Games.
When one considers the fact that the only way some of these athletes get a chance to represent the country on a consistent basis is that they are not employed and if they are, they are limited in whatever time they can take off unless they apply for vacation.
With the new government, which seems to be more sports oriented with so many former athletes and administrators on board, there's no reason why they should not take the opportunity to at least come up with some type of legislation that will make it more feasible for those athletes to represent the country.
Too many times, the athletes have had to put in a day's work and then rush right to practice before they get home to take care of their families. Too many times, some have just flat out decided not to go through it after their jobs have been threatened.
In most of those cases, the athletes have decided not to take the risk of trying out for the team and, as a result, the national teams have been deprived of assembling the best athletes possible.
When legislating the matter, let's also look at some compensation for our team athletes. It's not fair for us to just focus on the individual athletes, much to the detriment of the team sports. No wonder why when we look at the team heading to the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England, in July, we are still only being represented by individual sports.
Yes, there are relay teams for track and field but for the majority of the athletes, they have qualified in their specialty events. The relays are just an added attraction.
Let's give our team sports the opportunity to put themselves in a position so that they too can excel at the international level as we did in the past in sports like basketball, softball, baseball and even volleyball. They too need the chance to qualify to compete at the next level. I hope some type of legislation will be enacted in parliament to address this vexing problem that just doesn't seem to go away.