Editorial | Let Rodgers run
The major victim, so far, in the squabble led by Calabar High School over the eligibility of Aryamanya Rodgers for this year's Boys and Girls' Athletics Championships is the young man himself. If reason, balance and good sense don't prevail, the damage could be far wider, deeper, consequential and long-lasting.
We hope the high schools, and ISSA's executive, which includes Calabar's principal, Albert Corcho, who compromised the matter, are possessed of good sense.
There are a few things to bear in mind. Jamaica is a global athletics powerhouse, especially in the sprints. A number of factors make this so, not least the talent of the country's athletes. They are supported by infrastructure that includes great athletics coaches and deep tradition. Further, it is unlikely that there is anywhere in the world a school athletics competition of the longevity and quality as Jamaica's more-than-century-old Champs. None is more competitive.
In the circumstance, it would be hardly surprising if a talented and ambitious young athlete, especially one not of a First-World country with advanced facilities and economic support, would wish to be part of Jamaica's set-up. Which we suspect to be part of the reason for Ugandan teenager Aryamanya Rodgers' transfer to Kingston College (KC). Whatever else may be the motivation for the move to Jamaica, from KC's perspective, it can't be entirely without significance that Rodgers is a middle-distance runner, a discipline in which Jamaica is not traditionally at its best.
The problem for young Rodgers is that to participate in Champs later this month, he should normally have been registered in school by last September 30, maintained an 80 per cent attendance record, and met ISSA's minimum academic standards.
Rodgers did not enrol in person at KC until mid-October because, according to his school and ISSA, problems with transit visas twice delayed his arrival in Jamaica. ISSA, according to its president, Walton Small, was, as early as July, informed of the young man's intention to join KC and his planned arrival in Jamaica in August. ISSA was kept informed of his travel problems when they arose, he suggested.
It was on that basis, according to Mr Small, that the association waived the registration deadline requirement at a meeting from which Calabar's Mr Corcho was absent. Now Calabar, the current boys' athletics champions, are at the forefront of the criticisms of the decision. The school has hinted at boycotting the competition in the absence of a satisfactory explanation of the decision.
The contretemps must be unsettling to young Rodgers, who finds himself in the middle of a storm he didn't bargain for. Hopefully, it hasn't affected his academic output - which, before the controversy, was reported to be far ahead of ISSA's minimum requirement - and, if he is allowed to run, won't impact his performance on the track.
If what Mr Small outlined is a true representation of the facts, and there are powers of discretion in ISSA's by-laws, the young man should be at Champs. For there appears, on the face of it, to have been no attempt by KC to gain an unfair advantage or to deliberately flout the rules. The exigencies of the circumstance suggest that ISSA employed appropriate discretion.