Saturday, June 28, 2014

Second-best got rewarded

Friday, June 27, 2014 - The Malay Mail
IT has happened! The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) has rewarded the national team who lost the Thomas Cup final to Japan.
I had said in this column four weeks ago (Stop hailing second-best performances) that it would be a joke if the players were rewarded.
And last week BAM gave each player RM25,000 as part of their incentive scheme. It may not be a big amount to the association, but to many sportsmen and women, RM25,000 is substantial and should be hard-won.
So today BAM rewards the team for finishing second to Japan — which reached the Thomas Cup for the first time. Will it then reward the team if they finished second to the Philippines or Timor Leste in future?
What kind of standard is BAM setting?
These badminton players are professionals who earn wages. All their travelling expenses and accommodation are taken care of by BAM. On top of that, they get allowances.
And in open tournaments, they keep all their winnings.
I am not against rewarding, but it must be for excellence.
It is not as if we had never reached the Thomas Cup final before — the last time was in 2002.
We have won the Cup five times. How does finishing second to Japan make it special?
Even if BAM had a lot of money and wanted to reward the players for their efforts, it could have come up with a better formula.
It could have rewarded the players based on the number of matches they won.
How can a winner and a loser be given the same amount although it is a team event? Players should be accountable for their individual performances too.
But as long as we continue to give handouts, this culture is going to be detrimental to the progress of sports.
Maybe, BAM should consider starting a retirement fund for the players and contributing money to it. That would definitely be the better idea.
And if it really wants to show the players its appreciation, BAM should just give the players some pocket money, maybe RM5,000 each.
The coaches were excluded from the rewards’ list.
BAM president Tengku Tan Sri Mahaleel Tengku Arif’s statement that he did not want to set a precedent by rewarding the coaches is indeed puzzling.
He said: ‘As for the coaches, they are under contract and we will consider come bonus time. We do not want to set a precedent by rewarding them this time.”
Aren’t the players under contract as well?
If the coaches are paid bonuses, why not extend the same to the players? Why accord them special treatment? Didn’t the coaches play a role in taking Malaysia to the final?
It is rewards for second-best achievements that is spoiling our athletes and making them complacent. But now that the rewards have been given out, it will be impossible to withdraw them.
It would be generous of the players if they decided to share their rewards with their coaches, though. They could give RM10,000 each to be pooled and divided among the coaches.
But will that happen? The players should make it happen and show that they care about and stand by their coaches.
Tony Mariadass is a sports journalist with more than three decades of experience and is passionate about local sports. He can be reached at tmariadass@ Twitter handle: @tmariadass

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