Out with the facts please
Widespread doltishness rushes in where authoritative information fears to tread.
Why is NAAA president Ephraim Serrette waiting for as much as 48 hours before a formal statement is issued on the withdrawal of both Kelly-Ann Baptiste and Semoy Hackett from the World Championships in Moscow for reasons related to testing positive for banned substances?
Maybe that press release is public knowledge by now and appears somewhere else on these pages today. Still, you don’t have to be an expert on human behaviour to appreciate the scale of scandalous speculation and outright stupidity that would have been spouted via innumerable media outlets since the story broke early on Saturday morning via Kwame Laurence, this newspaper’s reporter on site in the Russian capital.
And as if the rantings of uninformed fellow media professionals aren’t enough, the modern environment — defined as it is by the mantra of being “interactive” — is overflowing with unknown characters in desperate need of a life, for whom cyberspace is an opportunity to engage in what amounts to rumshop bacchanal under the cowardly cloak of anonymity.
Instead of researching and writing a proper story or interviewing people in the field of athletics or sports medicine who know what they’re talking about, it seems the easiest thing in the world these days to give free reign to the same eight callers or dozen dedicated tweeters or seven diehard texters and then pretend their collective contribution represents a “national outcry” in the face of some alleged conspiracy or the other, whether that involves setting up Caribbean athletes or mashing up the Trinidad and Tobago cricket team as the dominant T20 outfit in the region and one of the best in the world.
In the perpetual election mode that we are in now, you often hear politicians mamaguying the mindless masses with something along the lines of “The voice of the people is the voice of God!” Occasionally you get the Latin version: “Vox populi, vox Dei!” which is supposed to lend gravitas because using the classical language makes you sound bright, bright. Lawyers do it all the time.
Well, I haven’t been able to locate the source of that statement so beloved of those political and legal leeches, but I did come across this interesting alternative opinion by an English scholar by the name of Alcuin of York, who, in 798 (yes, 798 not 1798, that’s how long the gullible have been taken for a ride) wrote the following to his king, Charlemagne, who also carried the title Charles the Great:
“...and those people should not be listened to who keep saying the voice of the people is the voice of God, since the riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness.”
Alcuin boy, you ain’t know how those words, more than 1,200 years later, hit the nail on the head, because the nonsense of giving over so much media space to an assortment of cowards who lack the conviction of openly identifying with their opinions may play well with the self-same audience, but does very little, if anything, to move a discussion forward.
So the online community is in support of Baptiste. So the phones light up in the studio and enraged callers go to town on the West Indies Cricket Board and them scheming no-good small islanders who are delighted now that our superheroes are scattered across the different teams of the Caribbean Premier League. And what blimmin’ difference does any of that “riotousness of the crowd” make?
Has there been any elaboration by a qualified professional on the circumstances of a positive test? Is the list of banned substances now so detailed and so all-encompassing that an ordinary person taking regular medication or vitamins would fail the same test every time? Or is it that the compounds identified can only exist in the body for the purpose of illegally boosting some aspect of physical performance or accelerating the process of recovery during training or after injuries?
Okay, so the CPL is doomed to fail and I, as someone involved in the television coverage of the tournament, am nothing more than a shameless cricket-commentating prostitute, soaking my head with Limacol and singing the praises of the competition just so I can eat ah food this year and next year and next year and...well, you know what I mean.
Does any of that explain why the matches so far have been so well attended, way and above what had prevailed over the four seasons of the Caribbean T20 competition, which T & T had won on the last three occasions? If this is nothing but an insult to the people of this land, why were tickets for yesterday’s double-header at the Oval completely sold out two days in advance? And if, as the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board has done, we need to be reminded that this “Red Steel” aberration is in no way associated with the pristine “Red Force” brand, would any official be so kind as to provide evidence of the marketing of this supposedly invaluable brand?
Instead of all this voice-of-the-people tripe, we need to hear the facts about the departure of Baptiste and Hackett from Moscow and guidance as to what happens next. We need to hear how the CPL itinerary was formulated and on what basis were players allocated to different franchises.
Those facts won’t necessarily assuage the crowd — people will always believe what they want to believe — but will at least make the madness of their riotousness more obvious.