Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 7th 2014 Contents A52
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Friday, March 7, 2014
Video footage was recently aired online showing
Usain Bolt paying his respects while the national
anthem was played. I must add that it was not his
own, the Jamaican anthem that was playing but
the American anthem. An interview had just begun
following yet another outstanding performance
on the track and it was not long into it that the
US anthem started. He stopped the interview and
for the entire duration of the anthem he stood at
attention and paid his respects.
On my facebook page I posted this same video
and my comment attached to it was, "Pretty cool.
Quality in character. An exhibition of his maturity
and acceptance of his role as an icon for many
people, young and old, today." Now, I don t think
that the man is perfect -- none of us are -- but he
clearly has recognised the different caps that he
wears. Whether he is playing the game of politics
or took advantage of the opportunity to build his
brand a little bit more or whether he genuinely paid
his respects, his actions represented something pos-
The business of moulding athletes is something
that is too often dismissed. Some of the best athletes
come from humble backgrounds where social slangs
a significant part of their standard speech while
Standard English sounds awkward coming from
their mouth. Still, when these talented athletes per-
form well, they are the ones to be interviewed and
when they are interviewed they represent themselves
as well as their team. Ensuring they know how to
speak and how to handle the pressure of that sort
of situation is always something better handled with
practice and preparation.
T.V. and radio are two of the more obvious settings
that the behaviour and speech of athletes are par-
ticularly noted but what is sometimes forgotten is
that any athlete, once chosen to represent their club
or their country must always be conscious of their
conduct. Wearing that uniform should always be a
reminder of a few things.
They are an athlete. As such, everything they do
and consume should be in the interest of their phys-
ical, mental and emotional health.
They are a symbol. To wear the uniform of a team,
be it of a club or national team, the existence of
that athlete is first associated with that uniform, a
representation of the team.
They are a role model. To have been selected as
worthy of representing your team is something that
most younger athletes strive towards. They set this
as a goal on their way to unleashing their potential.
They will imitate the older athletes in anticipation
of one day being in their position.
Team travel can often take athletes out of their
comfort zone and across cultures due to international
tournaments and meets. While being in another
country, they will see things that may be unfamiliar.
I remember when I went to Beijing for the Olympics
in 2008, I saw black chickens in the frozen section
in the grocery store. Yes, black chicken. I never knew
that this existed but it was really cool to see it.
In some countries the people may dress differently,
or talk differently which would warrant a particular
reaction from an individual. Sensitizing athletes to
such peculiarities before they are put in the envi-
ronment is usually very helpful to avoiding potentially
embarrassing situations. Reminding them that they
are no longer just representing themselves but their
club and/or their country would go a long way in
shaping the young athlete in the long-term. Iden-
tifying local customs from table manners to basic
etiquette better ensures that they do not offend their
host or anyone else for that matter.
In the London Olympics, you might recall the
blunder of the organising committee that caused a
walk out by the North Korean women s football
team when the South Korean flag was accidentally
shown on the big screen introducing the North Kore-
ans. Particularly a country like this would have taken
huge offense to this error which led to an hour s
delay to the start of the game and an
apology from the Olympic organisers.
There are qualified people to assist
teams with this aspect of athlete
moulding. It is an area that further
consideration should be encouraged,
particularly with the younger age
groups, so that as young adults, chal-
lenges with reference to conduct and
decorum can be avoided.
Asha De Freitas-Moseley is a
certified athletic trainer with the
National Athletic Trainers' Associa-
tion of the USA. She has over 11
years of experience rehabilitating
athletes and members of the
active population from injury to full
play. She can be reached at Pulse
Performance Ltd., located at #17
Henry Pierre St., St. James. Tel:
Moulding our athletes is important
stood at attention for American anthem
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