The philosophy of sport is never fixed. Its methods demand an inherently self-critical conception of intellectual activity; one that challenges its preconceptions and guiding principles continuously both as to the nature and purposes of philosophy and of sports. It draws upon and develops many of the diverse branches of the parent discipline, philosophy, and reflects a broad church of theoretical positions and styles.
Recently Eurosport highlighted ten sporting philosophers which they believe were top of the pack. Among them was Bill Shankly, the legendary former Liverpool manager who took a club which lay at the bottom of the old Second Division and turned them into the best club in English football. He mixed his managerial nous with a fine line in wit and wisdom, however, dispensing endless verbal gems - including perhaps the most famous quote in football history. "Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that." Included in that list was Frenchman Eric Cantona. His extraordinary philosophical introspections allied to his often brutal physical nature which made him a legend, the report stated. Then there was Muhammad Ali, "As good a boxer as Ali was, any objective analysis has to show that his reputation as "The Greatest" relied just as much on his flair for self-promotion, verbal dexterity and pithy insights as his boxing prowess."
I'd like to highlight someone from our shores who I consider to be among the top local philosophers and disciplinarians in sport. He is former National Football coach Bertille St Clair, the first man to guide Trinidad and Tobago to World Cup qualification in 1991 at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Portugal. He also led T&T to its best-ever Gold Cup finish, reaching the semi-final in the 2000 edition. I spent a half-day on the first weekend of the year with Bertille at his sports shop in Scarborough and there are some beliefs and quotations that stood out.
"The football structure has changed, The attitude has changed. It is so important and coaches must recognise that. What we do normally is that because you are a good player you can do what you want," St Clair said during our chat.
"I am saying it is a level playing field. I am continuing to say that if you have good discipline you can be anybody. Our coaches have to recognise that. Football is a level playing field don’t care how good you are.
"If you are good you must set the standard for the others to follow. Our coaches are not strong enough to stand up for what they believe."
Football has three As," he says. "The first one is the ability and we are loaded with that in Trinidad and Tobago. The second one we are lacking is aggression. We are laid back and the final one is an attitude and that goes for everything, even the coaches. You have to set the standard for everyone to follow.
"We need that in Trinidad and Tobago. Once you can get the players to come together and work, then the sky is the limit. But you have to do things step by step. People learn differently. There are no dunce people. Football is a brain game but there are no dunce people. Everybody doesn’t have the same type of talent but we are all good enough to grow.
"Trinidad and Tobago has too much talent for us to be in this situation. We have to stand up for the right thing. Like I used to tell Dwight and Latapy when they come, I say, you see what you all do in England, do the same thing over here or take the next plane out. In England, you can’t do anything unless the coach says. People want to come and see you look the part. Pride is important.
"The big ones set the standard for the others to follow. Everybody has a part to play in life and you must respect each other. There is Capital D which is discipline. You are here to do a job, then focus on doing that. Do the right thing," St Clair continued.
He had some wise words for the football leaders. "Unity is strength and we need to understand that. We are all equal. In Trinidad, we think aye he is a big player and he is everything. It cannot be like that. Set the standard and you can be anything you want to be. Football is a world game and everyone is looking forward to seeing it so set the right example for the world to see.
We want our football to be elevated to the next level. Football made me what I am. People who are in positions must be committed to taking the football upwards. You get back what you put in."
SOURCE: T&T Guardian