The ‘Caribbean’ University Games

Daisy Valera

Cuban marathon runner. Photo: Caridad

“Carib” was the name of one of the indigenous peoples that populated the Antilles, including Cuba.  That name persisted through time accompanied by the image of a slender and athletic “Indian” with long very black hair bundled on his head.

Perhaps this is why the sports competition at the University of Havana is referred to by students as the “Caribbean” Games.  This year’s games opened less than a week ago, but the preparations and pleasure of participants began well before.

Given my habit of running five simple laps around the track at the University Stadium, I noticed the number of people coming out to the field was increasing as the beginning of the games approached.

In the stadium could be seen groups of kids playing soccer and baseball, and practicing gymnastics, judo and a number of other sports. The inauguration consisted of a parade of the athletes grouped into their respective faculties and sports. The day concluded with a giant party throughout the whole university.

All this made one wonder why these games elicit so much emotion.

To find the only answer we would have to ask our relatives if they played some sport when they were little or if they had the opportunity to do so.  The answer in the great majority of cases would be yes.

As Cubans, living in a social system different from capitalism, we enjoy sports as a right of everyone.  We don’t have to pay to participate in different sports that are associated with our schools from the time we’re children.

A friend participated in cycling, I fenced, my brother practiced judo and another girl gymnastics, with the list ever expanding.  The emotion prior to the university games is the result of a sports culture, and all this is the result of the battle won by the people of Cuba in not allowing the privatization of this is an eminently public good.