Beyoncé is the wrong award

Beyoncé is a wonderful performer, a true phenomenon, one of the seven wonders of global music. But Big Concerts or Morris Rhoda can bring her to SA, not the Ministry of Sports. It defies logic that an event that is called the SA Sports Awards should be headlined by one of the most expensive global superstars.

If the Minister of Sports wants to dazzle his guests at the event, he can call on so many of South Africa’s superstars. Just imagine Hugh Masekela, Thandiswa Mazwai, Letta Mbulu, Die Antwoord, Simphiwe Dana, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Black Coffee, Bakithi Khumalo & Jonathan Butler performing for rapt audiences at the Sports Awards. That would be more than all the awesome that Beyoncé can bring to any event.

Our country is blessed with some of the world’s most original artists and our government has no reason to import US pop stars to an event that celebrates SA excellence. At a time when we go out to the world to convince it of our global stature, it is self defeating not to use our own platforms to showcase the cream of our talent. What’s even more galling is that for Beyoncé, the amount she would be paid would be little more than a drop in the ocean. For many South African artists, such an amount would be a significant and responsible investment. On top of that they would give the audience an unforgettable, world class experience.

It’s not even a question of where the money is coming from. Even if there’s a private sector sponsor, or a wealthy billionaire that wants to rub shoulders with Beyoncé, it would still be irresponsible for Minister Mbalula to allow so much money to be squandered under his watch. There is simply no compelling rationale that links importing a high priced pop star with the SA Sports Awards.

As journalist Gus Silber said, with appropriate sarcasm, “It’s fine for Beyoncé to sing at the SA Sports Awards, as long as Bafana get to play at the Grammys.”

Tshepo Mashile admonishes the Minister “Poor form Fikile, poor form. There’s no connection between Beyonce and sport. She should rather perform as part of her tour. What a waste”

Perhaps the Minister need look no further than South Africa’s own sports stars to find someone that can dazzle and inspire a sports audience. We have so many stars from golf, rugby, swimming, football, athletics and boxing. Many of them are global role models and they can inspire and motivate those at the awards. The problem with a big pop star is that it turns the awards evening into just another music gig, albeit an expensive one. But hardly anyone remembers the winners on the night.

As Thabo Ndabula “the same international artists that come here for the awards, know nothing about the nominee’s. Its just another gig for them”

Actor and musician Clint Brink takes it further when he says “ When they brought out Vivica A Fox & Brandy I was really pissed off, its a slap in the face of our own people”

Expensive events like the SA Sports Awards show the extent to which SA has become a country in which spectacle holds sway. For a little bit of glamour, many speeches and many millions later, the attention of SA sports lovers is fixed on a single event that diverts funds away from much needed development. These glitzy events, where so many awards are dished out do absolutely nothing for sports that is sustainable.

It is also interesting that the culture of awards ceremonies is taking place at precisely that moment when SA sport is going through one of its most barren spells. Bafana Bafana have not qualified for the African Nations Cup, the Springboks, Proteas and Banyana Banyana have not lifted a trophy in a longtime. Only at the individual level have you had success. So there is really very little achievement to be rewarded. Like many of these award ceremonies, the dishing out of many awards in one evening reduces the very value they may have if there were few, highly deserved ones.

To complicate matters even more,  you have the Provincial Sports Awards, such as the Gauteng Sports Awards. You have to ask why is there no co-ordination so that there is one event at which awards are handed out. This would be a much more effective and costly way of satisfying those with an urge to dish out awards.

To reiterate, the trouble really is not Beyoncé, but the idea that she can be invited to perform when SA has so many world class performers that would grab the opportunity to headline such an event. Even if they are added to the lineup, it galls that they should be support acts in their own country.

Enough with these US pop stars at SA Sports Awards. The reported R50m price tag for the event is truly scandalous. of this a staggering R17m would be for less than an hour of Beyoncé’s time.  In a country where the social calendars of the elite are crammed with invitations to endless events, the Sports Awards is simply yet another evening out for the pampered classes. But with a little imagination and less razzmatzz, such monies could be put to better use elsewhere.

The last word belongs to Zuzi Seoka who says “Instead of funding sports development, Mbalula would rather spend millions bringing Beyonce to the sports awards! Priorities? Nonexistent”

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