Wed | Oct 18, 2017

Athlete buying is child abuse

Published:Tuesday | March 22, 2016 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

Last Saturday, we completed another Boys and Girls Athletics Championships that reminded the world of not only the depth of talent that exists in Jamaica but also of our capability to host a world-class meet.

Special congratulations to Edwin Allen and Calabar high schools, which came out victors of the girls' and boys' sections, respectively. We must also express our gratitude to all the athletes of every school that was represented for contributing to the enviable pool of talent here.

But as we bask in the moment, let us pause for a moment and ask a few thought-provoking questions. What if every school had to hone the talent they received via the GSAT placements and there was no opportunity for athlete buying - would the results be the same?

Or, what if the playing field were level, with all the athletes having similar opportunities to good coaching/guidance - what would the outcome be? What if there was random testing of athletes at these championships? Would some of our sports administrators be banished from working with children and the schools they represent brought into disrepute?

It is really sad sometimes when I see the level of predatory poaching of talent from rural schools. It must be frustrating, as though they produce great athletes, they may never be able to field a team to win the championships.

The wooing of students - irrespective of academic accomplishments - is tantamount to child abuse. When these children cannot play sports anymore, or their time at school has expired, they are often unable to progress.

Put the education of our children as our foremost responsibility and not tag them as championship points.

PAT WILLIAMS BIGNALL

wilbig@cwjamaica.com