Will the real wagonist stand up?
On March 17, Oral Tracey used his column to outline what he describes as his disgust with females supporting all-boys schools in the annual Boys and Girls' Championships.
He especially took umbrage at women supporting these well-known Kingston-based high schools that dominate during the Championships - Kingston College, Calabar and Jamaica College.
In his column, Tracey said: "It irritates me to see these KC and Calabar girls (sic) in full flight offering vocal and physical support to schools that they have never attended, while their own schools, whether it be St. Hugh's or St. Andrew High or Queens, Alpha or Holy Childhood ..." are not supported as vociferously. Supposedly.
We were drawn to this article because of two reasons. One, The Gleaner used our photographs with the story, and two, we see it as another example of men (Tracey in this case) trying to exercise ownership over women's actions because, when it comes to sports, we obviously need men to tell us how it's done. To be fair, Tracey said some men engage in this practice, but the majority of his ire was unsurprisingly directed toward females.
As Tracey highlighted, there are several reasons why girls support the traditional schools. Our brothers, sons, boyfriends, husbands, friends and fiancÈs attend(ed) these institutions and because of the history of these rivalries, we want to support them.
We have grown up seeing these rivalries, are interested in them and are excited to participate in and celebrate Jamaica's sporting accomplishments. We enjoy seeing our talented athletes, from various schools and backgrounds, compete and succeed. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Frankly, Tracey's column is an unnecessary addition to a tautologous discussion that has honestly become nauseating. It is lame, played out and lazy, small-minded thinking.
Both of us have always supported our schools, all-girls institutions, when they entered Champs, while simultaneously supporting boys' schools. We do not think the two are mutually exclusive. We can support our own schools and another institution of our choice because we have the agency and capacity to do so.
We also do not think it's necessary to always have to be defending that choice. Men are often not required to do the same. It is really that simple.
The most intriguing and hypocritical thing about this unwanted lecture to women is that Tracey supports Liverpool and Brazil. Liverpool is a football club based in England, and Brazil, which we should all know, is a country in South America and the most successful football nation in the world.
Going by Tracey's logic, he should not support Liverpool or Brazil and probably should support Waterhouse and Jamaica ALONE. We don't think he was born in Liverpool and we don't think he lives in the port city. Now, we don't know Tracey's age, but let us do some calculations. Liverpool experienced its most successful period in the 1970s and 1980s, probably when Tracey was a lad.
In his column, he employed the overused term 'bandwaggonists' to refer to women who support boys' schools, but he probably hitched his fan mobile to Liverpool's bandwagon when the club was winning all those trophies.
Also, it is very likely that he started supporting Brazil because of their footballing success, a fact that is true for what we would estimate to be a majority of Brazil's supporters in Jamaica. Does Tracey even have relatives in Brazil? Does he own shares in Liverpool football club? We doubt it.
In any event, the larger point is that people choose to form associations (social capital) and support teams for many reasons, and Tracey obviously has the right to support any team he wants. However, going by his argument, we should all be irritated when we turn on our TVs and see him in 'full flight offering vocal and physical support' to a country other than Jamaica during football competitions.
Tracey highlights a bigger problem, however, which is that of men, who have been privileged by the hegemonic patriarchy, thinking that it is within their right to target females, while attempting to 'mansplain' to us which sports teams we should support and why, without thinking that these same rules should be applicable to them.
Tracey, we believe it would have been better for you to use your column space to celebrate and encourage our athletes as they prepare for Champs, rather than attack one of their most important support systems.
- Keresa Arnold is a Development Communication Specialist. Dahlia Beckford, Msc. is a Behaviour Specialist and a PhD student in psychology. They both don't watch Sports Commentary.