Defiant athlete refuses to apologise
The fastest Samoan, Jeremy Dodson, has been asked to apologise after he raised serious questions about the way sports in Samoa are run.
But during an interview with the Sunday Samoan, the American-based sprinter said he would not.
“They told me to apologise publicly or else they’ll have no choice but to either ban me or prohibit me from doing anything else,” he said.
“And the deadline was today (Friday) so I put up the apology to Samoa last night (Thursday night). In the blog, I apologised more to the people of Samoa for the lack of leadership that’s given towards the athletes."
“I refuse to apologise for making the claims. I didn’t retract anything all I did was to clarify some of the things. So I’m just waiting patiently to see and hear about their decision on me.”
He confirmed that the ultimatum followed a piece he wrote titled “A letter to Samoa sports” posted on his blog, www.jeremy-dodson.com, which also made headline news around the world.
“From the three years I have represented Samoa, I have seen officials do nothing but get free trips, trips spent lounging in sponsored hotels while athletes eat processed food,” Dodson said last month.
“I have seen officials get elected not off merits, but friendships. I have seen decisions being made about sports they have never attended or know anything about. I have even seen sport funding being spent on bar tabs that date back over three years in Apia bars!”
In Apia this week for his grandfather’s birthday, Dodson told the Sunday Samoan he stood by his comments. He said he is merely a voice for other athletes who are unable to speak out.
“I’m just a mouth piece for all the athletes,” he said. “I mean nothing has ever happened to me directly, I mean there was some stuff here and there but not as bad as other athletes."
“However, for some reason God has put in my heart to say something and I felt like I guess I was a mouth piece and I guess I’m willing to sacrifice myself so that other athletes can have a fair treat.
“But something needed to be said and I thought I have to do that I can go forward and if S.A.S.N.O.C. bans me that’s fine if they don’t either way something will happen."
“But hopefully something great will happen, we’ll just have to wait and see.”
On his blog yesterday, Dodson had posted a piece titled “Apology to Samoa.”
He said this was in response to the demand that he apologises or he would ban from representing Samoa.
“As for my latest blog ‘Apology to Samoa’, I was told to put out an apology letter,” Dodson said adding that he was asked to “say that what I said was false and those were false claims.
“But instead I thought I am not going to do that as what I said were not false claims. I will put out a letter of apology to the people of Samoa."
The following is Dodson’s response to the call for him to apologise.
My Apology to Samoa:
I am being called to either retract my statements in my previous letter or to place an “apology” for the defamation of a particular character. Unfortunately, that is not what I will do because that doesn’t solve the issue. Instead, it establishes a false authority and an unfavorable type of leadership. From my previous statement, I am looking for successful leadership. And, from the response of almost every reader/citizen out there, that is what we all are looking for. Why should we settle for less?
The purpose was to create a conversation of change. It is evidently apparent to any aware Samoan that the management of sports is not great. The Samoan Rugby Union just declared bankruptcy, our first Olympic Medalist was met with a subpar celebration, and the lack of success in our sports is met with a shrugged shoulder. I will state that the claims of my previous letter were stories shared by other athletes, so the validity could be questioned. But the uproar of agreement by a variety of Samoan citizens proves a presence of truth.
For some reason, athletes from other sports felt the need to share their struggles to someone who looks more American or Fijian than Samoan. The key was that they didn’t buy into WHAT I do (run somewhat faster than majority) but they saw WHY I do it, and that’s when they saw the most Samoan part of me, my heart.
The goal of business is to sell a belief. People don’t necessarily buy into WHAT you do, but instead WHY you do it. If the business doesn’t know the “why” behind their operation, how is trust and loyalty developed among employees?
As previously stated, as an athlete I am an international ambassador of this country. My job is to promote Samoa in a way to bring success. A non-profit organization is in the works in the United States so that funding can be provided back to Samoa so that citizens won’t have to spare their hard earned money. But if the previous money provided by the people were mismanaged, how can donors expect their money will be spent otherwise.
Maybe (keyword: maybe) money may not have been spent on bar tabs or filtered to pockets, but the evidence is clear when our sports are constantly asking for more money from the government. A reader of the Samoan Observer recently stated that the change in leadership must happen. A leader, who is willing to sacrifice their time without funding, is a good step.
Athletics President Jerry Brunt is among those, who spent time and own resources to a sport he is new to. The weightlifting organization is very much dedicated to their athletes, and the success is proof. SASNOC Secretary General Tala Pauga shows great management in basketball as separate chapters internationally were developed so that local players are able to travel to more games. The Athletics staff members are influential figures to every athlete on the team, or rather family. They, including several others, give their limited time away from being business entrepreneurs to their athletes they love.
Fearing our leaders only weakens the organization and the trust/cooperation among the members. Such hate for our leaders are created because the people are being sacrificed first. True leaders set the tone and sacrifice themselves first. Then the people follow to combine the talents to create a solid front against any outside threat.
You can dismiss me from ever representing Samoa ever again, but you can’t dismiss the fact that the “business” is failing its loyal employees and customers. To the people of Samoa, I apologize for not representing you well earlier in my career. But through my talents and knowledge, I will work to bring success. We will soon see if I am to ever wear the Samoan colors ever again, as a decision will be made in the upcoming weeks as to how I handled the stories told to me by other loyal and committed athletes.
To be continued…