In all sports there are leaders and followers. There is nothing demeaning about being a follower, as long your attitude is right – and you commit to make the affairs of the pigeon club run efficiently. If you are prone to sickness or are aged you may be pardoned from physical responsibilities at the club, but be given a hand to take pleasure in your hobby.
I have witnessed a senior fancier lifting a six-year-old junior to place his bird into the basket at the club.
Indifferent people always know better than everyone and look for reasons to argue. They have an ego problem, rejecting any new idea it is not forthcoming from them. There are blame-seekers who look for someone to hold accountable for their non-performance in the sport and own lack of character. Unsurprisingly they are (mostly) not champion fanciers, and are either sidelined by the club members or joined by similar members to eventually disrupt the harmony of the club.
Some fanciers are of the tough silent type, but they remain accessible and sociable in conversation. They only volunteer an opinion when asked for it – they are non-aggressive and considerate in character. Then there are antisocial fanciers who do not speak a word. They make everybody feel uncomfortable and sometimes unwelcome.
We are all different and we all live in glass houses – thus tolerance is not a dirty word. Some people are best left to enjoy their own company.
About great people
Great people converse innovative ideas; standard people discuss other people’s ideas; and lower than average people discuss other people. The racing pigeon sport has had a number of crusaders, without which the sport could not have survived. Many of them are still alive today and we should salute them. Well-known names in the archive of the sport are the late Albie Lamb, George Sole, AJ Reynolds, J Visser, PJ Badenhorst, Piet Schoeman, Bob Bouwer, WG Aldridge, Ronnie Croxford, Frans Putterie, Sonny Kippen and so on.
Their memories live on, and so does the work they started – but we need to build upon the success altar if the sport in South Africa is to survive. Since I joined the sport in 1968, the membership tally has dropped by more than half.
There was a lot of dirty laundry washed in the pigeon fraternity lately, with special focus on the Sun City Million Dollar Pigeon Race. Since its inception the SCMDPR and its staff have endured horrific slander and abuse of both a personal and “professional” nature. In 1996 the organisers had to fly in a Belgian fancier to City to let him see for himself that there was indeed a pigeon loft to house the pigeons for the first race event.
An SA slanderer spread the lie abroad that there were no lofts in existence in the Pilanesberg at Sun City to host the race. Over the years, certain fanciers made it a principal effort to damage the reputation of an event that has faithfully paid out more than million in combined prize money. Those who do not score in the race are found to be the chief troublemakers.
A fancier in Argentina and a fancier in Holland are currently being sued for defamation by the Geneva-based organisers of the SCMDPR for five million euros. They allegedly passed rumours that a number of birds were not properly vaccinated last year and died, with the ring numbers of the dead birds being entered into the computer so their owners would still pay the entry fee.
Slander and the bar
A large number of South African pigeon fanciers are affected by slander. Slanderers don’t investigate the truth behind a juicy story, but add their own assumptions to it and defame another party entirely on hearsay. Guilty as charged, no court investigation and no defence authorised. An attorney once joked that “clever people are always to be found at the bar”. Besides “talking pigeons”, many pigeon fanciers appear to think swearing is one of Africa’s official languages.
This behaviour is not limited to lower-income areas in our country. influential fancier in Plettenberg Bay has refused any social interaction with his club for the above reasons.
A successful fancier in a posh area in the Free State has enjoyed many years of happy pigeon racing, but interacted with such club members to the bare minimum for the same reasons.
We all want justice, but if we do not redesign the current formula at management level, we will live to witness a think scrum at the top founded on emotional populism. I was once the subject of a hearing (in my absence) at a pigeon-racing organisation over a few matters including writing “ sensational” articles, but I was not allowed to defend myself or answer personally to the allegations. None of the representatives from the various pigeon clubs sitting in on this discussion knew my side of the story; neither did they have the courage to take a stand for justice.
Bullies exist not only in politics, but also in the pigeon sport. If the shoe fits, dear reader … put it on! – Thomas Smit • Contact Thomas Smit on (011) 680 4778, e-mail [email protected] |fw