Monday, August 12, 2013 - 16:12
The answer is staring at us, but we choose to ignore it.
For instance, the Federal Territories (FT) Sports Council rewarded its athletes and officials with RM456,400 for winning medals at the recent 16th Malaysia Games.
Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor had announced that gold medal winners will be given RM5,000 for individual events and RM4,000 for team events.
Silver medallists were given RM1,500 for individual events and RM1,000 for team events was for bronze, the amounts were RM1,000 and RM800 respectively.
Ironically the contingent was praised for improving its performance from fifth place overall at the Pahang Games last year to third placing at the Kuala Lumpur Games this year.
Mind you, the contingent did not even emerge champions.
To make matters worse, this year’s Games was a second tier event — for the major sports that did not compete in the main Games held biennially.
The FT contingent, consisting of 196 athletes, eight team managers and 13 coaches, bagged 15 gold, 20 silver and 27 bronze medals in the 20 events they competed.
Similarly, other states offered monetary rewards, ranging from RM2,000 to RM5,000, for individual gold medals.
I am not against rewarding excellence, but definitely not performance at the lowest level of competition.
What kind of culture are we inculcating in our young athletes? That we dangle money in front of their noses for them to perform?
These young people should be taught to aim for the highest achievements and that there is no shortcut to success. It can only be done through hard work, discipline, dedication and determination.
But we spoil our athletes with monetary rewards from such a young age that they become financially mercenary.
They also become complacent because they know even mediocre performance will get rewarded.
Why can’t the FT Sports Council offer its successful athletes scholarships, computers, sports equipment or training stints instead?
Wouldn’t that benefit their development more? Truth be told, half a million ringgit would be better spent on a new training centre that would serve athletes now and in the future.
Even better, the money could get us more football fields in the city. They are disappearing fast and nothing is being done about it.
Apart from the FT Sports Council, I also feel Sports Minister Khairy Jamaludin made a wrong call in announcing that physically challenged athletes will get the same monetary rewards as the able-bodied.
For one, there are too many categories of disability for a single event and more often than not, no heats are held for the events.
Yes, rewarding physically challenged athletes at Asian and world levels, as in the case of Mohammad Azlan Mat Lazin, who clinched a bronze at the Sainsbury Anniversary Games in London, is commendable, but we cannot be rewarding them for lower level competitions.
Maybe a different reward system could be formulated for these athletes.
But able-bodied or physically-challenged, athletes have to earn their rewards with outstanding performance at high levels of competition.
Handouts will only breed mediocrity.
Sometimes, a popular decision is not necessarily the right one.
Let every athlete worth his salt strive for excellence at the highest level and be duly rewarded.