LEVERN Spencer has done it – yet again — this time sealing her position as the top high-jumping woman in all of North America, Central America and the Caribbean, setting a new record in Canada on Friday evening.
Verily, this young lady can be said to be worth her weight in gold. But reading, hearing and watching some of what Saint Lucians have been saying about her continuing successes can force one to think twice, if not worry, about just how much we appreciate what she’s doing for this country – and indeed the entire Caribbean — on the global athletic stage.
Her wins come so fast these days that we can easily lose track – and, as always, the debate resumes each time about what should be her reward.
First there was the original quip to the effect that the official Saint Lucia Sportswoman of the Year Award should simply be named ‘The Levern Spencer Award’. Now, her victories being so taken for granted that some are even calculating, adding and quantifying the cost value of her rewards.
Fortunately, the predominant view – up to now – is that Levern’s every win must be justly acknowledged; and while her national award – the Saint Lucia Medal of Honour (Silver) in 2016 – is fully in order, she must not, however, be made to feel like she’s being offered silver (in return) for gold.
It’s every country’s duty to find a fitting way to best reward its successful athletes. Examples abound – and not all are about money. Someone recently suggested Levern should be given a house and car, again opening-up the unending debate over how best she should be awarded and rewarded.
Such rewards – in most places – are lifetime awards that can include everything from vehicles, homes and property to creation of opportunities to do better in the given field. In most cases, the winner is examined as a person and given a reward that will last forever – and each time.
Unlike other professional sports (football, cricket, basketball, tennis, etc.) that fatten the pockets of players with every team and individual win, high-jumping does not earn Levern fast cash or a big pay day. She makes and breaks records, but these aren’t necessarily recorded in her bank account.
The PR gains for private firms sponsoring her is often more valuable than the products gifted to her when she brings home the Gold.
Levern is clearly set to continue her winning ways and the discussion will therefore continue to gain pace. So, what should her next gift be: a house or a guaranteed pension?
It’s hard to say what will be best for the growing 34-year-old star who, by her performance, will most likely participate in the 2020 Olympic Games.
It might be better to have a national discussion – NOT a debate – on an appropriate methodology to pay or repay Levern this country’s huge debt.
But whatever the conclusion, it’s not about whether she’s getting ‘enough’ or ‘too much’, because every win deserves the best reward and every winner deserves the best award.
We simply have to find the best reward for every award earned by each and every Saint Lucian who makes this country proud, at home or abroad.
And that’s the bottom line!