It is a widely accepted observation that the Cayman Islands is home to no major sporting endeavors. That is a myth.
In fact, Cayman is a world-class contender in “no holds barred” cage fighting – albeit behind closed doors. The real action in Cayman athletics tends to take place within the boardroom, not on the playing field.
Case in point: On the front page of Tuesday’s Cayman Compass, we published a story about the former president of the Cayman Islands Athletic Association (the body overseeing local track and field) successfully winning a temporary injunction to halt elections to the organization’s executive committee, pending an investigation into alleged “voter fraud.”
In brief, Delroy Murray alleges that scores of new members have been recruited to the association within the past 12 months in order to skew the vote in favor of incumbents on the executive committee, and that runs contrary to the association’s rules saying that members can only vote after being in the association for one year or more.
(That sort of scheme is a classic political tactic, hearkening back to U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt’s threat to “pack” the U.S. Supreme Court with additional justices if the court persisted in ruling against his New Deal legislation, or, perhaps more directly, to the strategy of granting citizenship, and thus voting rights, to as many immigrants as possible right up to the eve of elections.)
Although Mr. Murray’s legal action has thrust the association’s conflicts into the spotlight, the organization has been roiled by problems that have been documented in the media. As we reported in Tuesday’s story, “The association is currently leaderless following the resignation of president Dalton Watler after he accepted responsibility for an administrative mix-up that prevented Cayman’s champion hurdler Ronald Forbes from competing in the World Indoor Championships. His successor, Cayman track star Cydonie Mothersill, also resigned after just a few months in office.”
Likewise, it is in the executive boardrooms of the world where, long after the athletes have shaken hands and gone home, that the gloves and pads come off and the real blood sport begins. In the U.S., proposed labor stoppages, lucrative TV deals and multibillion-dollar bond packages have a much greater impact on ordinary citizens’ lives than the outcome of any particular game. In the U.K. and Europe, complex ownership structures of football clubs and legal wrangling over players’ rights can be far more sophisticated than plays drawn up for execution during a match.
Naturally, Cayman’s sports scene does not tend to involve the massive amounts of money that are generated by major sports in large nations (unless, of course, we’re talking about Cayman’s key role in the global FIFA corruption scandal). However, it is important to note that the money used to fuel Cayman’s athletics machine often stems from (or at least is commingled with) taxpayer funds.
Just how much our government spends on events, promoting sports leagues or assisting individual athletes per year is a question whose answer is buried within the budget some place, or more accurately, in many different places. In other words, it’s not clear – but the Compass is working to dig it up.
Suffice to say, if you are a Cayman resident, even if you have no recreational interest in local sports, you most certainly have a financial one.