Well World Cup cricket is starting Sunday in the Caribbean. Well actually it has started already but so far just warm up matches are being played.
Last year almost a year in advance I blogged about this event and questioned whether we, the people of the Caribbean, would actually see the highly touted economic returns from this event. That question remains I guess, we'll see in a few months or so.
Back then when I wrote that blog though, I was just thinking about the financial issues but now as things get going I'm starting to realize just how much more there is to this thing than I ever really thought about.
I mean yes the Caribbean isn't made up of first world countries but lawd ave mercy how far were we or did we go to accommodate our guests?
I mean I'm not saying don't accommodate people but at certain points you have to say no that cant fly and make the guests accept your policy too. Instead it just looks like we say to them in advance do whatever you want, we will accept whatever laws you see as fit without question after all don't mind us, is just we live here but you can act as if this is your own place.
What am I talking about? Well I wont even get into the silly story about bajan policemen getting searched at the cricket stadium in Barbados by cricket security people cause that one just too embarrassing to me. I had to hang muh head in shame when I read that.
No what I'm talking about is I see alot of us, as Caribbean people, giving up parts of our culture to host these games. The way we usually watch cricket was deemed not appropriate by the authorities and changes were/are being made.
Cant have all those horns and conch shells making noise in tourist ears. Cant say this, cant say that it might be offensive.
Then there is this whole issue with food. A fella cant even bring a drink of water into a stadium , cause they treating you like the airlines these days, searching you like immigration and nothing cant bring in ya hand or handbags. I guess they are worried about terrorists but still things seem mighty heavy handed.
Plus it seems like with these new security restrictions also applying to the immediate areas around the ground you cant even find a place outside the stadium to buy food or a drink so your only option is the concession stand.
How could we allow this? Ok I mean I understand to some extent the you cant bring in your own food point as the event coordinators want to sell you their expensive stuff from their concession stands and they will point out well you cant bring food into an NBA game or a NFL game or the like. True, good point but cricket could be seen as an exception here cause a cricket match isn't some three hour basketball game its a whole damn day. You go to cricket like you go to work. You get there at 9 or 10 in the morning and don't leave til after 5. Cricket is an outing. You need three squares at cricket, why ya think the players duz have water break, lunch break and tea break? Its not just for fun, its that its a long game and just like the players need their nutrition I think the spectators need theirs too.
Plus lets look at this culturally. Anybody at all who knows traditional West Indian cricket knows that cricket is an outing, a picnic, a lime even and people go into a cricket ground with a picnic basket, or a cooler with a whole heap of food for not only them but in most cases to share with others. Anyone who has heard Paul Keens Douglas' Tanti Merle at the Oval and been to a cricket match knows that his humorous tale contains only slight exaggerations on the girth of the picnic baskets and coolers that people used to bring to cricket back in the days.
Look even a small bony man like myself would walk with two or three hamcutters, a litre a Pine Hill juice, some fish cakes and some other drinks and that is just for me alone. Plus ya done know that if the spirit hit me that food didn't seeing lunch time at all. It might not even mek it past water break.
Ok I'm just joking but the point is Cricket in the Caribbean has always been more than a game Going to an international match is a social event alot more so than say going to a basketball or hockey game in North America. Why? Because you are at cricket the whole day, plus the islands are small and chances are you will definitely see somebody auntie or cousin that you know or somebody that used to work with you 10 years ago and you will get to chat and converse with them at the game. Its hard to make friends at something that you're just going to for for two intense hours like basketball but a cricket match you have ebbs and flows in the on field action so you might sit down next to a complete stranger in the morning and start chatting during a lull in play and by tea you are buying them drinks or borrowing their transistor radio to find out exactly how the commentators say the man was lbw when you see clearly he play bat and pad.
Also at cricket sometimes the play in the stands duz be more exciting than the play on the field too.
Cricket is a social event, a chance to make friends, to cuss, weep, jeer, praise, even chat up the odd woman or two. It is also a chance to eat and drink and eat and drink you must cause you're there for an entire day, you really don't have a choice unless you're fasting.
So no you cant just expect a fella to sit down in a stand for 6+ hours and suck on air or alternatively pay really exorbitant prices every couple of hours to get something to eat. Man that will get very expensive and annoying (as the patrons line up) for the patrons real quick.
Now look I'm not saying let a guy bring in enough food to feed the 5000 but did the planners think about the absolute and draconian measures they were instituting regarding the entry of food and drink and how it affects the fans. Surely some allowance could have been made for even say two bottles of water or a couple of fish cakes to be brought in. Cuhdear!
To me it just feel like we Caribbean people, or whoever it was at the table representing we when they were negotiating the event parameters, just sit down and nod their head to every proposal that was given by the International cricketing bodies without expressing any sort of issues they might have with the parameters.
Ya know what I'm saying?
But then again who am I to complain, ya cant live in the old times. I guess this is the price of progress.