Jamaica Gleaner / What happened last weekend, with the pulling – out of Calabar High School from the Gibson McCook Relays, is disturbing. Foster’s Fairplay has heard a variety of reasons which were factors for the decision. The one which is the least credible, in this columnist’s opinion, spoke about giving rest to athletes who were having an intense season of competition, with more of the same to come.
Schedules for the track and field season appear well before its commencement, and coaches and team managers are afforded enough time and space to condition their charges and manage injuries so as not to disappoint the supporters who come out in their numbers to cheer on this or that team. There are those who will argue that injuries are par for the course and there is agreement in this corner, but when put against the fact that the Red Hills Road-based school is reported to have entered a full slate of athletes to occupy a large percentage of the available lanes, it diminishes the value of that argument. Surely, if little niggles do occur, could it have been more than acceptable to all concerned to do a few adjustments and still be available to participate? Was a total no-show really necessary?
The two main protagonists in local schoolboy track and field are Calabar High and Kingston College. The sometimes bitter rivalry is a well-known fact, going back many years and involving some incidents which are best forgotten. The latter has been accused of only affording token support to the Wint McKenley Classic, the Calabar flagship event, which took part earlier in the season. It is said that the Gibson McCook withdrawal has more to do with that allegation than any so-called lack of fitness of any athlete.
Foster’s Fairplay is not taking any sides here. Any act that robs the sport of the spectacle of seeing the two schools battle each other in open and honest competition should be discouraged. These tit for tat of unpleasant ‘last lick’ actions must be repudiated and not allowed to give schoolboy sport a ‘black eye’.
Another question that needs to be raised is, where are the principals in all this? If it is to be believed that the absence of Calabar was a part of the on-going squabble, then one would have expected either or both heads to have a say in the matter. The public has a right to know whether this was a coach or team manager’s decision that was or was not supported by the real boss.
There have been occasions in the past when high-school coaches, who thought they had the power to involve schools in questionable actions, ended up being sanctioned along with the school.
One hopes that the circumstances leading up to the Calabar non-appearance will be thoroughly investigated, and if it is deemed to be unjustified, proper steps are taken to avoid a recurrence.
The Gibson McCook Relays local organising committee has promised to look into the matter and one hopes, in keeping with their bias for openness, the findings will be made public.
Meanwhile, Foster’s Fairplay urges the Kingston College and Calabar families, in the words of veteran singer George Nooks, “Tribal war – we nuh wan nuh more ah dat …”
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