The waiting for Boys and Girls' Champs to begin
The buildup to Boys and Girls' Championships has been spectacular ... on the track. On the sidelines, it's been just as lively.
The debate on transfers has escalated and drug testing, never before enacted at Champs, has landed, perhaps a year away from our doorstep. There are important considerations to be mooted on both issues.
The movement of Merlene Ottey, for example, from Rusea's to Vere Technical set her on the path to being amongst Jamaica's greatest heroes in sport.
Many of those who move join surrogate families who treat them as they would their own biological children. Often this includes the monitoring of schoolwork, deportment and the building of social graces.
Trading children for sport IS abhorrent and there ARE those who would do anything to win, but it seems more data is needed before a move to end transfers is contemplated.
Perhaps, high schools can be made to provide this data by reporting over a two- or three-year period on the conduct of their sports transfers.
Even after the new clearing house certifies that every 'I' is crossed for each student-athlete transfer, it might also be valuable to know how those who move from school to school perform.
Do they attend class, submit homework, stay out of trouble and become good citizens in their new schools?
The Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) has already minimum standards for academic performances and requires those on the move to sit out to miss Champs for a year if they change schools before sixth form.
That is supported by a limit to the number of non-GSAT students who can enter each high school each year. The additional data would illuminate the way forward by pinpointing areas in those pre-existing regulations for reinforcement.
Reforms to be made
If it is found that schools routinely are harbouring student-athletes who aren't really students, or that there is grade fraud or if there is any other dishonesty afoot, then action could be taken.
On the other matter, Jamaican juniors are routinely tested by doping control officials overseas at the Carifta Games and other international age-group championships.
However, while some jurisdictions test for possible substance abuse, testing for performance enhancers at the high-school level is rare. Recent announcements reveal that there is some extra time to plot our course on this key matter.
Starting on Tuesday, March 24, thoughts of those matters will subside. In their place will come the greatest high-school athletics meet on earth. As it was with Arthur Wint, Herb McKenley, Donald Quarrie, Ottey, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Usain Bolt in the past, Champs 2015 may herald the emergence of new champions of whom we can all be proud.
n Hubert Lawrence has been scrutinising athletics since 1980.