Wednesday 5th September, 2007

 

Rembering Raffie

 
 
 
 
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As T&T celebrates its 45th anniversary of independence, I want today to pay tribute to a man who died more than 30 years ago. He was to me, and to most people who grew up in the 50s, 60s and 70s, the doyen of sports reporters, a man who remains unparalleled today in the world of sports journalism.

I am referring to the late, great Ralph Ellis Knowles, or ‘Raffie’ as he was popularly known.

Raffie was the Head of Sports at Radio Trinidad for years and when television came to Trinidad on Independence Day in 1962, he was the natural choice to provide television viewers with the local, regional and international sports news on a nightly basis.

Raffie had the memory of an elephant and viewers used to marvel at how he would present the sports news from almost every sport under the sun without ever having the benefit of a script. He would provide detailed scores, give historical data on players and teams and keep us amused with anecdotes on a whole variety of sports.

What made it even more remarkable was the fact that his was the era before the invention of the teleprompter which has made life so easy for today’s television presenters.

As a young reporter at T.T.T. in the early 1970s, I had the privilege to learn from the master. I remember Raffie telling me on numerous occasions that any sports reporter worth his salt should always ensure that all sports were given equal coverage.

While Raffie acknowledged that cricket, football and track and field were the most popular sports in T&T, he would always emphasise that they were no more important than chess, or rugby or motor racing or golf and that sports writers should go out of their way to seek out information on these so-called ‘lesser’ sports so that they could receive the type of coverage they deserved but rarely ever got.

If only today’s sports reporters could take a page out of Raffie Knowles’ book, the world of sport would be considerably enriched in T&T today.

Unfortunately, they don’t.

I must admit that I have become totally disillusioned with my former colleagues in the media who seem unprepared to make any effort whatsoever to seek out sports news and who wait instead for information to be handed to them on a platter before it is reported to our sports-loving public.

Of course the only exception is when it involves some type of bacchanal or confusion. Once that is the case, they come swarming like bees to a hive.

Three recent examples will illustrate the point I am trying to make.

T&T’s golfers were recently involved in two major international tournaments.

The first was the Caribbean Amateur Golf Championship which took place in the Dominican Republic in early August while the second was the Stephen Ames Cup where T&T’s junior golfers clashed with their Canadian counterparts in a Ryder Cup-style tournament in Toronto.

After the first day’s play at the Caribbean Championship, not one single newspaper carried a word about what had transpired even though T&T had taken the lead in both the Men’s and Ladies’ categories and was favourably placed in the other three.

Suspecting that this was going to be the case for the entire tournament, I took it upon myself to compile the results on a daily basis on the subsequent days and send them by e-mail to the various newspapers. As a result, the most significant regional golf tournament eventually received coverage.

The same applied with the Stephen Ames Cup and, once again, I was forced to compile the results and provide them. Had I not done so, the T&T public would not have had a clue about the performances of our local players.

And the sad thing is that the information in both cases was readily available, in real time, on the Internet.

The only person who ever called me to ascertain how he could obtain the results was Anthony Harford. But then, Tony Harford is from the old school and has always been a true professional.

Not one other sports reporter ever made the slightest effort to get information for himself.

However, when prior to the Stephen Ames Cup, the T&T Golf Association was forced to drop a young player from the national team for disciplinary reasons, I was bombarded by calls from almost every sports reporter on the face of the earth who wanted information on the issue.

You see, they perceived that there was bacchanal in this one so up went their noses and they came like bloodhounds lining up for the kill.

Why, oh why have our sports journalists descended to these depths?

Shouldn’t they leave that to the politicians. At least we know that politicians thrive on bacchanal.

Raffie Knowles, why have you left us?

Now let’s head for the 19th Hole.

 

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