Money or the lack of it is fundamentally changing how sport is played, managed, administrated and governed. This has nothing to do with sport as a business or the modernisation and professionalisation of sport.
Greed and the abuse of sport purely for the money are certainly not about modernisation and professionalising sport or for the benefit of sport. The core values of sport and a passion for what is true, invaluable and priceless about sport can stand on their own merit.
In the local operating environment, alarm bells should be ringing as there is the perception that corruption and influence peddling is eroding confidence and trust among the stakeholders in local sport.
Is it that national sport organisations aren’t undertaking environmental auditing? The perception of wrongdoing has come to be seen as a routine occurrence. Everything has a price. Money is now the big ticket in town. Name your price.
Compromise seems to be the currency of choice. The best insurance against corruption is honesty. Allegations of misdeeds and a lack of procedural justice are undermining the essential element of trust. Corruption is impossible to measure as perpetrators do their best to hide their dirty deeds from public view.
As mistrust dig in its heels, wrongdoing is more lucrative, as well as easier to hide. The temptation to bend the rules is great. Sir VS Naipaul once described T&T as a materialistic society in which every person grasps what can be grasped for self, without regard or loyalty to any value set. Is it that his definition of T&T society is true?
National sport organisations occupy a position of leadership, a position of responsibility and a position of trust. Therefore the issue of corruption and the money first ethos ought to be a concern and a significant problem. That corruption has invaded and taken over daily life here in T&T is not an excuse or should it be a default position within local sport.
Corruption is an obstacle and an impediment to the sustainable development of sport. It will also undermine the democracy and autonomy of national sport organisations. The issue of corruption, is, therefore, something which should not be treated lightly and must not be under-estimated.
The cancer of systemic corruption is a significant by-product of poor standards of governance, accountability and transparency. It is imperative that local sport resist and don’t allow a deep rooted culture of greed and dishonesty to take root.
Local sport must emphasise and reaffirm the core values of sport and don’t be tempted to lower moral and ethical value and governance standards. Corruption requires two parties, and includes bribery, kickbacks, nepotism, cronyism and influence peddling.
Local sport must place high importance on the values of sport, fair play, sportsmanship, integrity, principles and ethics. There will always be individuals who are bent on using sport for private gain, or for the illicit gain of others.
However, the mentality of gain by dishonest or corrupt means must not become a norm, or a way of life. Local sport must act courageously and sincerely to ensure that the cancer of corruption is rebuked by standing up and speaking out for what is right.
Lead by example, make your voices heard; do not take comfort in quietly voicing concerns in the safe confines of private conversations. Be prepared to publicly call a spade a spade, don’t be afraid to be ridiculed, marginalised, victimised, or isolated. Call it idealistic, airy fairy, ideological, naïve, even stupid but integrity and dignity can have no dollar sign.
By Brian Lewis