Tue | Sep 18, 2018

Pride of the Fortis family, according to Laurie Foster

Published:Tuesday | April 14, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Calabar’s Michael O’Hara competing in the boys’ Class One 100 metres.

Last week, Foster's Fairplay suggested that first runners-up Kingston College (KC) should pursue 2015 Champs honours. It spoke to an after-the-fact default situation.

Calabar High, in the wake of a fourth successive win, appeared to be in retreat, defending themselves against, and apologising for, what could be termed a misdeed by its flagship star performer.

Michael O'Hara's 'crime', which by extension involved the Red Hills Road school, is that he - their most valued athlete with victories in three individual events, plus a winning relay leg (39 points) - had engaged in an ambush-marketing exercise.

After his 200-metre triumph, he had seized the moment to not only proudly display, but went at pains to highlight the marketing slogan, 'Be Extraordinary', of Champs outsiders Digicel, printed on the chest of his undershirt.

The company's telecommunications rival, LIME, is a major sponsor of the five-day spectacle and was not amused.

The action, seen as deliberate in most cases, must be viewed as a ploy to steal some thunder from, and decrease the impact of, the sponsors' branding. It is unethical in the extreme.

Champs bosses, the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA), were placed in an embarrassing position, their 'undies' exposed. There was no regulation in place to issue sanctions for any breach thereof.

The fact that there was on-going dialogue about ticket distribution 'transparency', and all the nuances of that word in talks on corruption, could only have incited greater ISSA discomfort.

Before the dust had settled, there comes this columnist's nudge to KC - "go for the Championship trophy".

They were a mere 15.5 points adrift of Calabar and could make a strong claim, if O'Hara's well-timed and beautifully executed prank (for Digicel) had backfired.

Enter the pride of the Fortis Family, albeit longing for a trophy of this prestige. Foster's Fairplay was inundated by an avalanche of responses.

Employing all the various means of communications available in 2015, including street corner and 'arrests' in business places, they made it clear: "We do not want it that way. Champs must be won on the track over the five days of competition."

This columnist has been a target by his Jamaica College (JC) colleagues for an apparent defection to the Fortis faith. Guilty as charged, with strong emphasis on 'apparent'.


Undying loyalty


The reality is that from schooldays, the northern side of North Street impressed due to their unswerving loyalty to the purple cause. They were led at the time by a country icon, the Reverend Bishop Percival W. Gibson, and displayed an overpowering passion for sports and their performances therein.

Both the Bishop and his successor at the helm, the equally revered Douglas Forrest, have been canonised by having meets on the local calendar named in their everlasting honour.

Names frequently heard in Foster's Fairplay's St Andrew household, like Freddie Green, Lawson Douglas, Carl Belnavis, and Melvin Watson from the 50s; and to come later, Meryck Miller, Dickie Coke, Churchill Neita, Peyton Fuller, and the great Mabricio Ventura Snr, re-enter the mind.

They were followed by the Neville Oxfords, Trevor 'Jumpy' Harrises, Mickey 'Mouse Brown' Vernons, Lloydie McLeans, Franklin 'Bowla' Morants, the speedball Tony Keyes, and this could go on forever, Fortis on the thrills provided by that illustrious George 'GT' Thompson-coached football team.

All mentioned rewrote the script on support for school. They were the embodiment of what the school's history demanded - unyielding commitment to a cause.

This younger set - but no less hot blooded in their adoration of their school - took on this columnist in a frontal way. Thoughts of winning Champs because of what was over exuberance from an 18-year-old going about his own business (can it be better put?) were not a part of the Bishop Gibson-Douglas Forrest model.

Foster's Fairplay says to the Fortis cult (check the positive meaning before condemning), it is the duty of a journalist to put in the public space all the parameters and interpretations of a given situation. There should be no bias or positions taken, save for the expression of views, not firm conclusions.

As such, the dialogue is welcomed and is a fulfilment of a mantra to spark and spike a healthy discussion. Thank you for the feedback, KC massive.

Gwaan, KC.

n For feedback email