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The Finish Line: The Argument Still Exists . . . What Is Our National Sport?

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Brent Stubbs

By BRENT STUBBS

bstubbs@tribunemedia.net

IT IS not how you start, nor how you get there. Most importantly, it’s how you finish.

• The Finish Line, a weekly column, seeks to comment on the state of affairs in local sports, highlighting the highs and the lows, the thrills and the spills and the successes and failures.

THE WEEK

THAT WAS

For years, there’s been the argument of which sport is the national sport of the Bahamas.

For those involved in cricket, they will tell you that cricket is the sport because it’s one of the oldest and most competitive sports that is still actively played at both Haynes Oval and Windsor Park.

Then, there’s sloop sailing where a sport started out as a past time for those residents in yesteryear to have something constructive to do with the long haul from one island to the next.

However, both sports have seen a decline over the years and while they compete with the more traditional sports like basketball, athletics, swimming, volleyball, baseball and softball, which has surfaced to the forefront in recent times, the argument still exists over which is the national sport.

At the same time, there is also the debate over why successive governments continue to place regatta under the jurisdiction of either the Ministry of Local Government or Agriculture and Marine Resources.

Why, if it’s a sport, is it not placed under the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture where all sporting disciplines are included?

Is it because the other ministries are earmarked more financial resources to cover the grants that are disbursed to the various Family Islands when they host their annual Family Island Regatta or Homecomings?

Or is it that successive governments have not seen the necessity to provide the sporting and cultural event the significance that it so rightfully deserves?

Does anybody care which sport is dubbed the national sport of the Bahamas? Is it a priority? Does it make a difference to the countless boat owners and sailors who compete for the cash prizes and trophies offered?

This seems like a non-issue. But just for the record, it should be noted that there are some persons who care and would like to see the sport given the proper significance that it deserves.

Fed Cup

The Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association is preparing to send a youthful team of junior players to represent the country at the Americas Zone II Fed Cup next month in Panama City, Panama.

Association president Elwood Donaldson said they selected the quartet of Iesha Shepherd, Sydney Clarke, Sierra Donaldson and Elana Mackey based on their performances in the 2016 Giorgio Baldacci Open Tennis Tournament, held in December at the National Tennis Centre.

While I’m not knocking the quartet, who will be coached by Chelsea Russell, because they earned the rights to travel, if that’s only to be the only trials for the team selection, then the BLTA should find a way to ensure that more of the elite tennis players come home to compete.

The Fed Cup, like Davis Cup for men, is the pinnacle team competition for countries outside of the Olympic Games. And sure, the BLTA should ensure that the top players are given a chance to compete, even if there are some other criteria in selecting the team.

Both the Fed and Davis Cup competitions are extremely competitive and it attracts the top players in the various countries and as such, the BLTA may have to look at putting on another tournament after the year-end tournament.

We’ve seen in the past, especially with the Davis Cup team, that some of the players who emerged out of the December Tournament have not been able to travel because of an injury or school commitments.

Although it’s customary to move up the players who follow the foursome originally selected to fill in for those who can’t make it, it would be good to host a tournament closer to the travel period to ensure that all of the players are still fit and ready to compete.

The Week Ahead

The Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations will hold two important events over the next two weekends as they select two national teams to represent the country.

Starting tonight and finishing on Saturday, the BAAAs Junior Nationals Championships will be held at the original Thomas A Robinson Track and Field Stadium.

Then next weekend at the Grand Bahama Sports Complex, the BAAA will stage its National Open Track and Field Championships.

The former will be held to select the team for the IAAF World Under-20 Junior Championships set for Nairobi, Kenya, July 19-24.

The latter will select the team for the IAAF World Championships August 5-13 in London, England.

It’s important that we see our top athletes, especially those who are currently in high school, college and universities and those on the professional circuit to come home and compete.

If it all pans out, there should be a number of exciting match-ups to watch both here and in Grand Bahama.

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