Sun | Dec 17, 2017

Orville Higgins | The guard who benched ‘Tappa’

Published:Friday | November 17, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Reggae Boyz head coach Theodore Whitmore was snubbed by a security guard at a FLOW Cup match last week.

The discussion has been all the rage since this week. Theodore Whitmore's ears must be ringing.

'Tappa' Whitmore was initially prevented from entering the Catherine Hall venue for the FLOW Super Cup last Saturday. Based on all accounts, the security personnel did recognise Whitmore, but refused to allow him access to the venue because he did not have the requisite pass. It appears that Whitmore was then forced to buy tickets before he would be allowed to watch the game.

The issue has taken on wings and is being discussed among sports people everywhere. Public opinion has been split right down the middle. There are those who feel that the security was well within their right not to allow him in without the proper pass, while others like me feel

there should have been some discretion shown.

 

A BETTER WAY

 

Let me say straight up that I am not blaming the security guard. You can't blame someone for carrying out instructions given by their superiors. I am merely suggesting that given the circumstances, there could have been a better, or at least different way, of dealing with it.

I am not one of those who believe that security personnel are mere robots who should just carry out their functions to the letter. There are times when guards should make a judgement call, or at the very least, inquire of their superiors what they should do in special circumstances.

Theodore Whitmore is the national football coach. That title alone should allow him unlimited access to any organised football game in Jamaica. It's as simple as that. He is technically always on the job. On Saturday, for example, there was at least one schoolboy on show who he has called to the senior team. He may well have seen another that caught his eye. No security arrangements should have prevented him from being on the job.

For those who are saying he should have to adhere to special protocol and make prearranged bookings, I disagree. I don't see how the chairman of selectors for West Indies cricket, Courtney Browne, should be prevented, under any such circumstances, from watching organised cricket anywhere in the West Indies as long as he is recognised.

Recognition is the crucial word. In 2014, Courtney Walsh was denied access to Sabina Park, where there is an end bearing his name. That, too, had created a national furore. The guard's defence was that he had no idea who Walsh was and, therefore, couldn't allow him through. A year later, in Barbados, Desmond Haynes was similarly snubbed when he was denied entry to Kensington Oval, where there is a stand in his honour.

The case with Whitmore is different. The security guard knew who Whitmore was but acted according to the strict dictates of the law. No pass, no entry!

Surely, a call or radio message to a superior would have been better for all concerned. Surely, the guard should be aware that the national coach, effectively, has standing to watch football in Jamaica. This standing, or right, means that the privilege of being in any football stadium should never be withheld from him. The guard, in this circumstance, must think on his feet. Those who say he should blindly follow instructions are being simplistic.

I have asked on radio what if the referees turned up at the game without passes and they are known by the security personnel as the referees for the game. Are we saying that the guard should insist that the refs not be let inside without accreditation? Isn't the onus on the security to make the necessary calls to find out what they should do in a case like that? Should the guard follow instructions and possibly turn away known referees?

I have asked, what if it's the ambulance? Does the security insist on the letter of the law and not let in the ambulance if the driver isn't carrying the requisite documentation? Would this have happened to other head coaches of Jamaica? Maybe the better question is, has Simies or Sch‰fer or Bora ever been deprived entry to any football game if they did not have a pass? I don't think so.

This has now happened to Whitmore twice, the first time was at a schoolboy game. Is it mere coincidence that Whitmore has been stopped twice, while other national senior coaches haven't?

- Orville Higgins is a sportscaster and talk-show host at KLAS ESPN FM. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.