Nerdy movers and shakers need help

STRATEGIC: President Jacob Zuma takes on Keagan Rowe, 5, at last year's Commonwealth and South African Open Chess Championships. A reader says more should be done to encourage chess and other intellectual pursuits
STRATEGIC: President Jacob Zuma takes on Keagan Rowe, 5, at last year’s Commonwealth and South African Open Chess Championships. A reader says more should be done to encourage chess and other intellectual pursuits

UNSURPRISINGLY for a country whose leaders’ idea of strategy is to get re-elected, the fact that Luke Watson was sidelined for four weeks after getting a bump on the noggin is deemed newsworthy.

Yes, SA is a sports-mad place which apparently rewards teenage minds stuck in adult bodies from R1.5-million to R6-million per year to chase an oval ball. Bafana Bafana get upwards of R500000, while the Proteas do even better.

Golf? That’s where the big money is, seven figure paychecks.

In a country struggling with low pass rates in maths and science and a lack of professionals in reality-based fields like engineering, medicine, architecture and technology, the most chess players can hope for is to split a measly R250000 prize at the 2013 Commonwealth Chess Championships. Never mind chess grandmasters are believed to lose a year of their lives for every championship game due to intense stress and concentration, those who put their heads between other men’s legs and push must earn more ’cause their careers are so short…

Yup, the nerds must just make do with a pittance, no coverage on TV or acclaim for their efforts to promote strategic thinking and the culture of study in a land whose citizens relish burning down schools and libraries.

Complaining about our pathetic education system is easy. Encouraging a nation to embrace intellectual pursuits is not.

Nevertheless, perhaps the departments of education and arts and culture can look at installing chess tables in parks and school yards, as well as embarking on a nationwide campaign to promote the game and its benefits to our kids’ intellectual development.

And yes, while they’re at it, could (Basic Education Minister) Angie Motshekga and (Higher Education Minister) Blade Nzimande do something about our teacher shortage problem? Or would they prefer that we go back to believing the Earth is flat and demons are expelled when we sneeze?

 M Negres, Port Elizabeth

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