Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Sport is dead when citius, altius, fortius is replaced by fixius, drugius, corruptius. We have reached the logical end of sport. Everywhere you look, you find stories of people who have taken the sport out of sport.

We expect to hear the decisions on football and hockey match-fixing scandals. The football itself is a sham, going through the motions. The real action takes place on the telephone in the weeks before the game.

That winning is not the most important thing, but the only thing. If you sincerely believe that winning is everything, all the rest follows. If the only ethic is victory, then these things are not options. They are demanded: the least you can do... The essential fact about sport is that you don’t know what happens next. No one does.

We watch sport not for the victory, but for the struggle. In other words, those that seek victory at all costs are destroying sport. They are creating a spectacle in which we, the punters, have no interest. People are far less interested in track and field athletics than they once were because there has been too much drugging... Professionalism will be the death of sport; or it will, if we carry on believing in it. But at last, we are beginning to see the price of winning at all costs.

- Simon Barnes, with a foreboding warning, "The Times"

Learning from past experiences is crucial and one would have expected that everyone in Malaysian sports would have learned something from the past few years. But it all boils down to money and the nation to becoming borderless to a certain extent.

Take for example the decision by the Sports Minister to adopt the Harimau Muda. That is not something new, not thinking out of the box one could say. For this approach was adopted in 2006 and the only reason it was discontinued was because FAM did not keep the team together. Rajagobal had the team together for two years, 2005/2006 and after they failed in Banglore, the team was disbanded instead of being kept together to mount a challenge for gold in the 2009 Laos Sea Games.

Now if the Sports Minister was serious about wanting to help football, he should adopt the Under 16 team, something that our neighbours Indonesia have done, and build the team towards the next Under 20 Asia Cup challenge, followed by the Sea Games in 2011/2013. That my Hon. Sports Minister is development, not taking a team that is unbeaten in the Premier League as it has stamped its mark. In the kingdom of the blind, the man with one eye rules, but when it is the blind leading the blind, then this is the end result, zilch.
Football in this country is all about money, there is a lack of desire to excel, be it by the players or officials. And this rot is now spreading to other sports as well. Hockey has failed, and if one takes away Nicol David and Lee Chong wei, the squash and badminton too have failed but we just will not accept that fact.
To quote the legendary boxer Muhamad Ali, Champions aren't made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them -- a desire, a dream, a vision. Just how many of our athletes, bar Nicol and Chong Wei have that?
The athletes too must realize that sudden wealth can be dangerous in many walks of life and as so far as sports is concerned it is no different. There's no doubt that some athletes were living beyond their means and when there's a sudden change in circumstances the financial pressures become very severe indeed.

Sport is now a complex and pressurised business so there will be disagreements and difficulties sometimes, hence the dispute with national associations. The key to this issue is communication, trust and respect for each other's position - in other words, good relationships.

What we need to do right away is to wipe away the endless, acrimonious mentality that has been embedded in sports since the 1998 Commonwealth Games. Just too many experts have appeared overnight, and disappeared as soon as their political masters bow out of the system.