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Headline hurt swimmers

Dear Sir,

It is with great disdain that I feel compelled to write you in reference to an article in your newspaper on the front page of the Sports section on Wednesday March 2nd headlined “Games a waste of time”.

I realize that in these economic times the Royal Gazette like every other business on the Island needs to find ways to sell your product, but I could not believe my eyes when I read this headline and realized just how desperate you must be to stoop so low to sell a story and newspapers.

As the President of the Bermuda Amateur Swimming Association, I was copied in on the email exchange between the author of the article, Mr. deChabert and our National Coach Mr. Ben Smith, asking various questions about something that I actually thought at the time was not much of a newsworthy story that would be of any interest or value to the public.

Obviously someone at The Royal Gazette that writes your headlines thought the same thing and decided to create a story out of nothing and sensationalize something that is quite innocuous at best. What that RG employee failed to take into consideration is just how much damage and anguish a simple headline change can do to a person and organization that represents the very best of what Sports in Bermuda is about.

I can assure you that our National Coach never uttered those words at all, in fact in an email exchange this morning Mr. deChabert admitted as much. I would be happy to share those email exchanges with you and the public should you wish.

The Bermuda Amateur Swimming Association has legitimate reasons for not wishing to send a contingent to the Island Games this year. We conveyed that message to the local organizing Committee some months ago and they were completely satisfied with our reasons and we have all moved on. I will add however, that we are sending the head of our officials committee to the Games this year to observe the Games and return to the island to give us a report to assist us with our preparations for hosting the aquatics portion of the Games in Bermuda in 2013.

Your article has now created a problem where there was not one before. We do not think that the Island Games are a “waste of time”, but by putting that headline to that story you have painted our organization as some elitist group that does not think that the Island Games is worthy of our participation and we are somehow unpatriotic, when nothing could be further from the truth. We have participated admirably in the past and we will in the future. We just won't be participating this year.

This is the type of sensationalist reporting that puts a black mark on the reputation of The Royal Gazette and makes it very difficult for an organisation such as ours to communicate effectively with you and ultimately our potential constituents in the future. I can assure you that we will be very guarded in any communications with your paper in the future. We are a relatively small sports organization that is trying to do positive things, particularly for the youth in our community, but just as importantly, for people from all ages and walks of life in Bermuda.

A headline like this does not do anyone any good, and only makes all of our jobs more difficult because of the perceptions that will come from one non-story.

We have incredible athletes and coaches at numerous levels and abilities, that work extremely hard and represent Bermuda in all manner of competitions both here and abroad, some more prestigious than others. They have always represented our little country with extreme pride and I dare say with very little controversy, all while getting very little fanfare compared to other sports. I can safely state that our organization continually produces incredible role models for our youth, all at a time when our community needs that type of behavior and news the most.

I sincerely hope that you will see fit to offer some form of retraction and/ or an apology, preferably with a headline of a similar size.

Sincerely,

Tim Petty

President

Bermuda Amateur Swimming Association

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Published March 09, 2011 at 9:00 am (Updated March 09, 2011 at 9:43 am)

Headline hurt swimmers

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