Sun | Jun 24, 2018

Orville Higgins | KC recruiting at all costs?

Published:Friday | December 22, 2017 | 12:00 AM
File Kingston College recruit Arymanya Rodgers salutes the crowd at the National Stadium.

By now it is an open secret that Kingston College will welcome three athletes on their roster from St Lucia. The athletes will be coming in January and, therefore, will not be able to compete at Boys and Girls Championships for 2018.

My sources at KC tell me that it was "paperwork" issues that delayed the three St Lucians from starting in September, but that they will not be making any appeal to ISSA this year to bend the rules for humanitarian or other reasons.

There is a whole lot to read into this in an of itself. One obvious interpretation is that "KC a go hard!" Smarting from losing six straight Champs titles to Calabar, it is clear that the North Street giants are leaving no stone unturned to try to topple the school from Red Hills Road. Make no bones about it, KC want to win Champs, and they want to win it badly.

That, however, is only part of the story that is unfolding here. As interesting as it is that KC is upping the ante in bringing foreigners into the school, there is another, more fascinating side to this story. Here is the background: A few years ago, the whole subject of recruiting students from one high school to another took root. It started when the goodly Dr Lascelve 'Muggy' Graham insisted that the practice was wrong.

 

'Bloom where you are planted'

 

A whole lot of people, including yours truly, were against Dr Graham's argument that you should "bloom where you are planted". I was among those who argued vehemently that there can be absolutely nothing wrong with a youngster moving from one high school to another to maximise on his sports potential. I need not go into the arguments that I put forward here. Suffice it to say that I was among those who felt recruiting did more good than harm. Dr Graham did, however, have many who supporters.

Some advocates who endorsed Dr Graham's position were ex-KC students. They used many platforms, including radio, to voice their disgust at the practice of 'buying' students. The fundamental argument put forward was that school should be about academics first, that it was unfair to have students from another institution displacing bona fide students from the school to which they were originally assigned; that students with average academic ability should not be asked to go into another high school with higher academic standards. Yadda-yadda-yadda.

A few days ago, I was listening to an afternoon programme on the radio where the issue of these St Lucians coming to KC was concerned. I could not believe what I was hearing. Two of the more stringent defenders of the bloom-where-you-are-planted philosophy were now defending KC's decision to bring in athletes from the eastern Caribbean!

The two were waxing lyrical about what a good thing it was that the KC administration was giving a chance to these athletes to develop their education and their talents in sports! I was mortified! Two people who had hit out hard against me for supporting recruiting were now endorsing it to the fullest.

The ability to reason dispassionately is a skill that few people have. I have come to accept that. I have come to realise that once people are emotionally connected to a subject matter, it is difficult for them to discuss it objectively. Some of my KC friends are more guilty of this than most people I know.

Bring up a matter concerning KC and I can tell you beforehand which position some people will take. I could name names and ask you to judge for yourself down the road, but I will refrain. Whenever a KC issue comes up, I can predict, almost verbatim, what some ex-KC people will say. It happens every time.

When this obvious level of bias is practised by the ordinary man in the street, it's bad enough. When people are hosting a radio programme, this is simply unacceptable. What is worse is that some of these glaringly misguided KC views are not always from KC past students.

So the position of some (not all) of my KC acquaintances is this: Recruiting is wrong, if it is moving youngsters from one high school to another in Jamaica. However, if it is moving some St Lucians into KC, all is good and right with the world! This kind of convenient logic makes me laugh.

Personally, I have no problems with any school taking in youngsters from anywhere to enhance their sports programmes, whether the recruits are from St Lucia or Jamaica. Alas, if only some people I know could reason as objectively as that.

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