Tue | Dec 6, 2016

If you want to poach student athletes ...

Published:Monday | March 23, 2015 | 11:06 PMHorace Fletcher

THE EDITOR, Sir:

Monday morning, I felt mischievous, and so I called up one of my Calabar friends, an ardent athletics fan, and asked if he had heard the latest news that Usain Bolt was now running for England. I could sense the anguish in his tone as he asked if I was serious or joking. "After a few minutes, he realised I was joking.

So I got serious and said, "Now you see how it feels for Calabar to take the best athlete from my old school, Cornwall College."

In fact, after many years of not scoring many points at Champs, last year, through the efforts of Warren Barrett Jr and his teammates, we placed a commendable 11th.

This year, he has been transferred to Calabar, the champions, where, as my friend tried to put it nicely, he will get better coaching and better opportunities. So presumably it was all done in his best interest.

"Well," I pointed out to him, "he won it all last year without your big coach, and I am sure you guys took him with open arms to bolster your chances of winning again this year."

He finally admitted that Calabar did recruit athletes to compete with their rivals who are doing the same thing.

All of this, to me, is kinda sad, because if all the best athletes competed for two or three schools, what purpose would that serve? What about teaching loyalty.

In a similar fashion to international athletes, schoolboys should be allowed latitude in where they train. However, when they run or throw (in the case of Barrett), they should run in the colours of their original schools and the points should go to that school, as happens with our athletes who train in the United States.

This should not be a problem for the big-shot schools that are looking out for the best interest of the athletes. Or is this sheer hypocrisy?

HORACE FLETCHER

Professor, University of the West Indies