Things We Love

Racing Fever

ID-100417396 Hot Temperature by winnondIn Jamaica, count your blessings if your last paycheque can nimbly stretch to reach your next paycheque. If it can’t, then you and I know the kind of gymnastics said-cheque must do to accomplish that feat.

For some, no matter how many splits, twists, tumbles and rotations, the degree of difficulty to get by is too high. The puny cheques can’t make the cut.

No matter how much we strategize on paper, on race payday, a trip-up can land us on our backs, looking up at the clear, blue sky.

So, how do we cope when our tucks and reverse somersaults end in a belly flop in a utility-bill pool?

What do we do when after jumping high, jumping long and jumping triple, the capitalists raise the red flag and cry “Foul”?

How do we relieve the joint-stress and the brain-stress from the non-stop race of the rats?

Well, if it’s Olympics time, we find ourselves in front of a television.

It doesn’t matter where the screen is: work, supermarket, bank, mechanic. If it can show picture, it will do.

It doesn’t matter if our athletes are swimming, running, diving or flinging tings and we don’t understand the rules of the sport. We will watch.

Be ye warned if ye are striving to be a Jamaican contender in the games of the Olympiad. Our invisible hands will be on your shoulders . . . or under your skin. When this nation of excitable people decides to back you, we back you 1000%—til yuh go find something else do.

As spectators, we are serious about our Olympic athletes.

Before their events, we send up silent prayers, partly to cover them and partly to cover our own hearts (so they don’t give out).

During their events, we either scream and jump up and down in front of any public or private television—because we shame-tree chop down—or, in our heads, we do their routines with them. It doesn’t matter if they’re on a springboard or a balance beam; we deh deh.

If they win, we run around clanking pot covers, waving flags or blowing vuvuzelas , and the local media scroll congratulatory messages across our TVs. If they put out plenty effort but don’t win, we give them a pep talk through the TV: neva mind, you did your best, next time you’ll do better, keep practising.

In Jamaica, we behave like we’ve raised our athletes from nappy stage.

We fuss over them, like we fuss over Shelly-Ann and her sick toe because we don’t want her run and “hot it up”.

We cuss them to straighten up and fly right if they play the fool, like di time Usain did cra . . . (okay, let’s not go there).

If they’ve had setbacks or are rising from humble beginnings, we watch them like hawk, like we do Yohan and Elaine. We hold our breaths. We cheer when they reach the top. We may even bawl living eye water di way wi heart full.

We love to vex up wi-self with our athletes as much as we love to celebrate them. It’s the same thing we do with cricket.

Maybe this propensity towards annoyingly exuberant behaviour is wired in our DNA. So we caan do betta.

Maybe kicking up rumpus is not only our way of supporting and motivating them but a way of motivating ourselves also. If they can succeed, we can succeed.

Either way, watching our athletes explode from the blocks, chuck off into a swimming pool or hurl a shot-put out in yonder green is a welcomed distraction from trying to coax a lazy paycheque to roll over and not play dead.

Peace and love

Image “Hot Temperature” courtesy of winnond at


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