What’s good for the goose
S . R. Pathiravithana
Wheels within wheels! The athletic fraternity in this tiny island seems to have solved yet another squabble but has it all secured an ever lasting peace to this troubled sport?

One thing is very evident! Either some interested parties are willingly trying to push the game down to the abyss or the incumbent persons in the athletic echelons are letting those disgruntled elements take the sport to the dingy ally they desire!

The latest upheaval is that a section of the athletic fraternity – (I mean on the track) say that they cannot run at the next Asian Championships if Businessman Kiran Atapattu was to accompany them as manager since there has not been any contribution from him to the sport or that he has never been an athlete himself. The result was the three coaches – Sunil Gunawardena and Derwin Perera ( sprint) and Pari Liyanage ( Long distance ) pulling out of the tour in protest.

Now veteran athletic administrator N.A.B. Jayasinghe is scheduled to go as head of the delegation and Kiran Atapattu will be in the tour squad as a congress delegate.

In one way it is good as at present some wealthy persons are trying to use their weight in gold to establish themselves in the social strata as a this or that. It is good for the betterment of the sport if it is done in the real sense of dedication to the sport. It has happened to other sports as well and resulted in them suffering in various ways.

Then, at the same time, persons who are letting their kennels open must also ponder if they had backed people of the same stature and got them to act as heads of athletic contingents which have represented the country on our own soil or on someone else’s in the past? Or more to the point verify who first invited this particular person to have his first taste of the track?

Then the question that comes into my mind is --is Kiran Atapattu the first non-athlete to manage a national side abroad? If that is so it is best to ask the relevant persons who were responsible for promoting Kiran, to ask him to lie low, then you can avert creating a precedence. That alone can solve a host of problems.

But when you go through the mill there is dirt everywhere! It started more than thirty years ago when the present super coach Sunil Gunawardena and company were running for the country it was Tory Jayawardena who managed that contingent to Tehran during the good old Shah days. As far as I know Tory Jayawardena had never competed in athletics on a recognizable scale.
Then in the 1990’s Ari Kannangara – a well known mercantile executive in the calibre of Atapattu-was elected by a group of backers for none other than, the president of the AAA. Had Ari Kannangara taken part in athletics at a recognizable level? No.

It is only then the question arises why isn’t that what is sauce for the goose not sauce for the gander? Here is the point where all these whiners go wrong. If some one had created a precedence then another cannot be penalized doing the same. Another case has been Senaka Keerthiratne the AAA treasurer who went in as the manager for the SAF games and the list goes on longer.

The lobbyists have not stopped at that, they even have brought out some other personal accusations even about his character. Then when they bring those personal accusations they too must go to the nearest mirror and ask the question “Who’s the fairest of them all?”. They say people living in glass houses must not …

At the same time the other question that comes to our mind is what right has the field players got to come out and protest against any official? For instance whatever the upheavals there were in the sphere of cricket the national players were in the middle doing their job. They may have had their own preferences, but like true professionals they were there right in the middle serving their country. I feel that this should spread to all sports alike. Let the men at the top handle the administration and let the players in the middle bring honour to the country.

Even in other sports leaving aside athletics, persons who tried to get into the fray were given a chance and when it was proved that they had other interests rather than the health of the sport, there were persons of authority who were at hand to stop them. In the democracy prevailing in our country, people should have the freedom to prove themselves right until they are proved wrong. That is how the machinery of democracy works.

For instance the late minister Gamini Dissanayake and Ana Punchihewa were never cricketers themselves, but were administrators with exceptional vision. It is only now that their contributions to the game of cricket have really surfaced. Right now Sri Lanka is on the top pedestal in the world of cricket and is the richest sport in the county by far. At any time one could attribute the contribution these two individuals made towards the ascendancy of the sport in the country.

However a word of caution! It is we who seek our own destiny through our witting or unwitting actions at some juncture of our lives. So whatever decision that one takes it should be taken in a very balanced manner because it is ourselves who will set the stage for future actors to play their part.

Then.. The other side of the coin
On the flip side of the record the Musings asks as to why people protest just for the sake of protesting? In the same manner there are other questions also to be asked.

There are 31 athletes selected to go on this pilgrimage to Korea. At the same time there are thirteen officials also named by the supreme council to accompany the contingent. The ratio is almost 2:1.

Also in the fold is that the ministry of sport has refused to bear the cost of five of these officials including that of Messrs Kiran Atapattu and Lakshman de Alwis. Besides this there is another top ranking policeman named by JBT who is also trying to book a seat in the plane. What a shame? If these people had an iota of love towards the sport they would not seek to be where they are not wanted. The rumors also state that the hierarchy is now seeking ways to bury the expenses of these five within the other expenses and hush it up. Oh! It stinks.

One more question? If people can protest and pull out for one reason why can’t they pullout on principle for a cause of this nature?
Only the bare essential must go. Keep the rest of the money for the development of the sport.


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