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Athletic stalwarts deserving of middle-ground approach

Sports Scope
  • Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie.


Published: Oct 01, 2013

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It is quite sad that the discontent (regarding several personal matters) of one of our finest sports ambassadors, Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie, went viral recently. Indeed, a letter from Ferguson-McKenzie expressing disappointment in how she has been treated made a big splash on the social network.

According to the letter, Ferguson-McKenzie is of the view that some retroactive subvention funds are owed to her. She’s clearly at odds with the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) at this time and there were some other comments indicating that our sports queen is unhappy. I make no case for Ferguson-McKenzie.

Although, a humble soul, as the letter demonstrated, she has the courage to speak out on her very own. The view held here though is that when it comes to those amazing sporting stalwarts who have given so much to the country, often at great sacrifices, all and sundry should seek a middle ground. Since the letter surfaced, for the most part, the views I’ve heard have been either pro-Debbie or against her use of the social media to vent certain frustrations. Even, her writing ability has been attacked. There doesn’t seem to be much of a middle ground however.

It is a very sad commentary on our society when one who has done so much to enhance the positive image of this country has to reach out across the social network to ensure that attention is paid to her. Ferguson-McKenzie never, throughout the many years of competition, appeared to be a lightening rod. For the most part, she has been unassuming and modest almost to a fault. Perhaps, she felt her cries went out toward deaf ears. I see the letter as somewhat of a last resort attempt by Ferguson-McKenzie to get some “wrongs” righted.

Well, what’s done is done. It’s not too late though for a meeting of all of the parties in question. The objective at the very least should be to reach some middle ground solutions. The National Subvention Program, geared to financially assist elite athletes in their conditioning and preparation for “national” representative competitions, has no retroactive clause attached.

There is though, such a thing called discretion, meaning the authority to decide just what ought to be done. There are exceptions to rules. There have been other instances when elite athletes made charges of being unfairly treated regarding subventions. I remember well, Leevan Sands lamenting the fact that he was not elevated on the subvention list, when he felt he should have been.

This issue should certainly be given full examination by those in charge of the subvention program. Bahamians, those who support the elite athletes and those who control the funding to them, should never allow themselves to forget the contributions made by the elite performers. Sporting ambassadors such as Ferguson-McKenzie, Leevan Sands, Tonique Williams-Darling and Chris Brown have done so much for their country.

They certainly deserve the middle ground approach on issues that upset them.

(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at sturrup1504@gmail.com)

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