MVP dis­ar­ray

Jamaica Gleaner - - TUESDAY SPORTS - Email: lau­riefos­ter2012@gmail.com

WHAT IS hap­pen­ing in this MVP/Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce im­broglio? So much is be­ing played out in the pub­lic space that hith­erto, all the par­ties in this in­trigu­ing back and forth would pre­fer to re­main be­hind closed doors. There is no history in that or any other lo­cal sporting camp for that mat­ter, where cer­tain is­sues deemed to be se­cret and del­i­cate are laid bare. Mat­ters, once sacro­sanct, are now open to pub­lic scru­tiny and com­ment. As time elapses and per­sons are de­nied what they might think is right­fully theirs, much more rev­e­la­tions can be ex­pected.

The re­ports out of the Rio Olympics spoke to a cleav­age in the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the over­pow­er­ing per­son­al­ity of Stephen Fran­cis and FraserPryce, who, by a long way, is the world-renowned su­per coach’s most highly cel­e­brated fe­male charge. It has led to a part­ing of ways. In her quest for an un­prece­dented trio of Olympic 100m gold medals, her streak had been halted by a bronze medal fin­ish in Rio. The ath­lete has now sought a re­freshed ca­reer un­der the tute­lage of green­horn in the coach­ing busi­ness, Re­naldo ‘Jour­nal­ist’ Wal­cott. His camp at St El­iz­a­beth Tech­ni­cal High School (STETHS) was en­rich­ing it­self with some tal­ented ath­letes.

The plot gets thicker with a showdown of sorts loom­ing, as the rel­e­vant par­ties are squar­ing off to pro­tect their turf. FraserPryce has been re­ported as set­ting up a res­i­den­tial fa­cil­ity in the ru­ral parish to avoid what would be a stress­ful daily com­mute. MVP Pres­i­dent Bruce James, her manager and close ally, given his own ut­ter­ances when the saga saw its first light, is main­tain­ing his usual silence but say­ing enough to sug­gest that his role as ad­viser is alive and kick­ing. Coach Fran­cis, not nor­mally given to al­low­ing de­part­ing ath­letes a chance to re­think, is in this case leav­ing at least a window open for that even­tu­al­ity.

With this ce­ment­ing of po­si­tions in progress, here comes the equip­ment spon­sor, Nike, who has been aligned to FraserPryce since she hit the global spot­light. They are not new­com­ers to the scene as they are im­mersed in the fi­nan­cial back­ing of the MVP Group as well.

LONG-TIME SPON­SOR

In an ar­ti­cle penned by sports reporter An­dre Lowe, and car­ried by this news­pa­per, the Nike po­si­tion is cap­tured by the head­line, “Long­time spon­sor blocks ShellyAnn’s MVP exit.” Lowe, lately a sig­nif­i­cant me­dia fig­ure on the track and field trail, quot­ing his sources, de­scribed the com­pany as hav­ing threat­ened “to pull the plug on their mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar deal”. Ref­er­ence is made therein to Nike “ini­tially giv­ing their bless­ing to Fraser-Pryce’s move”. The spon­sor is fur­ther re­ported to have “changed its po­si­tion af­ter Stephen Fran­cis, MVP’s head coach and FraserPryce’s long-time con­di­tioner, ex­pressed his pref­er­ence that she re­mains with the Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy-based out­fit”.

Strangely enough, the fo­cus is not on Nike and the moves in which the com­pany en­gages it­self to main­tain its brand and mar­ket share.

More im­por­tantly, it can­not be over em­pha­sised that what MVP with Nike in tow, is deemed to be do­ing here is far re­moved from reg­u­lar MVP prac­tice. These guys do not bow. They have been res­o­lute in these sit­u­a­tions and have shown no prior in­di­ca­tion to gen­u­flect to ath­letes seek­ing their for­tunes else­where. So many of their elites have hit the high­way with or with­out co­er­cion. In fact, in some in­stances, there has been a sem­blance of a ‘good rid­dance’ at­ti­tude when the ques­tion of de­fec­tion is raised. The likes of elite medal­lists and a mul­ti­ple world record holder have ex­ited their ranks. Me­laine Walker, Sherone Simp­son, Asafa Pow­ell, Kaliese Spencer, Natasha Mor­ri­son and Michael Fraser have said good­bye for one rea­son or an­other.

Fos­ter’s Fair­play re­mem­bers the Cal­i­for­nia, USA-based Santa Mon­ica Track Club, rip­pling with the best of the best ath­letes the coun­try had to of­fer, the Carl Le­wises and Leroy Bur­rells of the sport. Where is that out­fit now? This must be weigh­ing, with telling ef­fect, on coach Fran­cis’ mind. Can the group sur­vive all this break­ing in ranks? Is not the Fraser-Pryce farewell the prover­bial last straw?

From what Nike is re­ported to have done in an at­tempt to halt this slide, it cer­tainly would ap­pear that way.

FRASER-PRYCE

FRAN­CIS

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