Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sports 101 - leave out the politicians

MALAYSIA'S quest for an Olympic gold continues. It may take many more years before we can be treated to one. It will certainly require more than a RM1 million carrot before we can stake a claim to one.

While not winning one should not dishearten our athletes, 11-gold winner Michael Phelps have shown the world what could be achieved with determination, endless practise, proper guidance and a scientific approach to training.

Perhaps, the biggest help Phelps got was the absence of politicians running his swimming association or club or whatever. I doubt very much if any politician in his home country even interfere in his training programmes, let alone decide on Phelps strategy to such a record win.

However, I won't be surprised if Phelps is invited to have a cup of tea with his president at the White House after he return home, neck heavy with Olympic gold medals and world records.

This is definitely not the case with Malaysian sports, where almost every politician wants to have his two-sen pitch in sports development and management. Politicians translate their involvement in sports as a political catchment area of voters. Period.

And when the athletes fumble, or defeated by opponents more worthy of victory, the politician will find it most easy to offer solutions to such defeats and break into rhetorics which somehow find their way into the sports pages.

If one is to listen to the verbal diarrhoea of our politicians involved in sports, one would have thought that the politician must have been a medal winner at some international sports meet in the past. I bet you that you could probably beat the person at a simple board game of Scrabble or chess.

We are all tired of listening to politicians trying to sound like sports experts. Why can't they just concentrate on their job of looking after their constituencies and help their state develop further?

And if they are in the Federal Cabinet, why can't they facilitate and not intimidate?

I do suspect that some politicians have this misconceive notion that their presence at sports games, especially big world meets, is an inspiration to the athletes. And using the same corny logic, the Defence Minister should be at the forefront of any war to lead his charges into battle!


If you tell them that their presence adds pressure on the athletes and officials, they will probably object to such views violently and go into somersaults. When will we ever learn and start demarcating our tasks and responsibilities. I say, leave sports to those who really know.


Nasionalis said...

... royalty?

Anonymous said...

True. But the politicians may well turn and ask: "What makes journalists better judges of sports and its personalities?"

Mohd. Ramesh

Anonymous said...

Tok Mat,

Our politicians are good in these "sports":

verbal jousting, skipping responsibility, evading the issue, jumping the gun, flogging a dead horse, dropping the ball etc.

Old timer

Anonymous said...

Agree with you completely. Check out my outdated blog at

Ahmad A Talib said...

Dear commentators,

TQ for your comments. They are most welcome. My contention is simple - leave sports to be managed by people trained to do so. Some may have excelled in the sports and then move on to coaching after getting proper training. Journalists are people trained to observe and comment, with those commented upon having the right to reply. Journalists are also trained to ask questions, probe and expose. Politicians are, y nature and specification, people tasked with carrying out certain political agenda. That being so, they should confine their skills to politics. However. royalties, politicians and prominent personalities can support sports bodies in the area of fund raising. But not as advisors, managers, coaches and what have you.


rizal hashim said...


Can you picture this scenario - a former athlete running the Sports Ministry?

Why not? If we were to effect change, let's start with the Ministry.

Unlike sports, which is clearly defined by a set of rules and regulations, politics is a game without scruples or conscience, where only the toughest survive. In that sense it is unlikely that politicians play by the rules or perform on a level playing field.

So, should we bar politicians - from the has-beens to budding ones, from the Ministers to youth leaders - from running sports organisations?

The truth be told, Datuk, politics and politicians are a reality in Malaysian sport and it would be naive to expect a parting of ways.

We must not forget politicians and royalty have always played a dominant role in Malaysian sport. In fact, some of the greatest moments in Malaysian sports were achieved when politicians and royalty headed the associations.

Our founding father Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra was a passionate lover of sport. He was a great promoter and organiser of
sports, not only in Malaysia but in Asia. He introduced the Merdeka
Tournament and the biennial Putra Cup team golf championships.

The second Prime Minister, Tun Razak Hussein, oversaw Malaysia's fourth place in the hockey World Cup in 1975 and was president of FAM, MHF and OCM.

Malaysian athletics enjoyed its glorious years under King Ghaz or Tun Ghazali Shafie in the 60s right up to the 80s. But they belong to the rare breed of political leaders who are
passionate about sports, compassionate to its practitioners and charismatic to its audience!

To dismiss politicians and royalty altogether is therefore not fair for most of them had demonstrated a varying degree of professionalism and success.

In our society, we cannot run away from political patronage. Granted,
like any other areas, in sports too you come across "some bad apples" but by and large they have contributed positively.

In all fairness to them, if one were to analyse and study the cause of major controversies in Malaysian sports, more often than not it is the second-layer officials or ordinary officials who are the trouble makers.
Politicians and royalty either stay above the fray or find themselves unwittingly caught in the quagmire.

But if there is a significant change in mindset, we ought to find ways for corporate captains and academicians to enter the scene.

Also herald a change in the Sports Ministry by appointing a former legend as Sports Minister. Brazil once had Pele as the Sports Minister. Not practical in our society?

We have the likes of Datuk Dr M. Jegathesan the Flying Doctor, a former National Scientist of the Year, civil servant, athlete, administrator and medical doctor all rolled into one!

Then we would not have to wake up to a number of questionable decisions such as the RM490 million London centre or the RM25 million Champions Youth Cup football tournament - ideas mooted by the Sports Ministry!

Anonymous said...

I agree. These days, the politicians cum sports leaders cannot even answer journalists' questions properly.
...of the present politician in charge of sports, can anybody tell me "who" he is?

Mohd. Ramesh