Orville Higgins | Should KC pull Rodgers?
With each passing day, there seems to be more drama unfolding regarding Ugandan runner Ari Rodgers and his participation for Kingston College (KC) in the upcoming Boys Championships. School administrations, chief among them Calabar High, are questioning the special and extenuating circumstances that will allow the youngster to compete, despite being in the school later than the September 30 deadline and, therefore, unable to make the 80 per cent attendance record.
KC's arch-rivals Calabar are not taking it lightly, and it's not inconceivable that their very participation in Champs may be in doubt. Calabar principal Albert Corcho was on my radio programme on Wednesday and he sounded quite militant. He is a member of the ISSA executive committee, and he should have been part of the body that voted on whether the Ugandan should be allowed to compete in Champs. He was overseas at the time of the vote and told me that he wrote a letter to the members of the body to ask on what grounds the decision was made.
Mr Corcho is caught in a delicate situation. It could appear that he was serving two masters with completely different objectives. He was smart. As part of the executive, he could not outrightly disagree with the decision of the body. It is, of course, standard corporate practice that any decision made by a body that you are a part of is binding on the other members of the group, whether you agree with the decision or not.
Mr Corcho cannot come out and knock the decision of that executive body while still remaining a member, and so he went down the road of writing to that executive body asking for an explanation of the verdict, while not necessarily questioning the verdict itself. Until Thursday, March 16,, he claimed he never got a reply, fully a week after the verdict was reached.
That is clearly wrong in my view, assuming, of course, that Mr Corcho's version of the story is true. If the executive committee of ISSA felt there were compelling reasons to allow the youngster the right to compete despite the breaches, they should be able to give a member of their own body an explanation.
ISSA has not given an explan-ation to their own committee member, although ISSA boss Walton Small spoke to the media on the issue on thursday evening. It's hard not to come to the conclusion that ISSA is not convinced that what they did was right and may well be having second thoughts. No one should blame Mr Corcho here. His hat as Calabar principal surely must take over him being a sitting member of ISSA's inner sanctum. His loyalties surely must be stronger for Calabar than ISSA.
Things took another turn on Thursday when Calabar wrote another letter, a copy of which I happen to have. The letter is calling on ISSA to "pay us the courtesy of a response to or at least an acknowledgement of our letter requesting a copy of their written ruling or statement on the matter in question".
That was mouth-watering enough, but the letter then had some ominous undertones. The letter claimed that if Calabar's request was not granted, it could "have implications for our participation in activities surrounding this year's staging of the Boys Championships, as well as other ISSA-organised competitions going forward. As a consequence, we regret that Calabar high school will not be in attendance at the launch of the Boys and Girls' Championships scheduled for later today (Thursday)."
So in plain language, Calabar is threatening to not participate in Champs. They know their clout. Champs' main theme for years has been the battle between Calabar and Kingston College, with the other schools playing supporting roles. No Calabar, and it would not be Champs in the way we have come to love it. It's a scary thought.
ISSA may well have made the mistake that could result in a Calabar pullout. What Calabar is hinting at is that it might well be prepared not only to decide if the school will compete at Champs, but any other ISSA-organised event. This is serious business, and the implications are going to be far-reaching.
So, ISSA may well be caught between a rock and a hard place. Allow the youngster to run and risk Calabar pulling out, or overturning the decision and have the full wrath of the KC community on their heads. Maybe in the interest of Champs, KC could consider just pulling the youngster.
- Orville Higgins is a sportscaster and talk-show host at KLAS ESPN Sports FM. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.