Foster's Fairplay: Athlete Representative concerns
Foster's Fairplay recently ignored a self-generated story. The reason: it was seen as more important to ease pressures on an alleged guilty party.
As a follower of truth, this columnist was later to regret the decision. The said matter was broadcast elsewhere with much of what was involved, denied public knowledge. This was simply because the commentator was restricted in his knowledge of the matter.
Having said all that, there is deep concern with how some of the country's most talented athletes are being handled. Should it not be within the scope of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) to have some controlling oversight, concerning who comes out and says, "I am his or her agent"?
Is such a declaration, despite having registered as an athlete representative (AR), enough to satisfy that the charges are being properly managed?
Some time ago, this columnist gave some free and unsolicited advice to the parents of an extremely gifted local high-school athlete. They were urged to seek someone with the requisite experience and expertise to see to the affairs of their son.
There was no compulsion to follow that counsel, but things do not seem to be working out as planned. This has led to a halt to his season, in which so many opportunities for top-class exposure were on offer. Pity the unfortunate and uninformed parents wanting the best, but now other thoughts must arise.
In a recent interview with the general secretary of the JAAA, Garth Gayle, a question, in the present context, was posed. The high-school principal was requested to "speak to any attempts to guide athletes on agent choices or is that not a concern of your association?"
The query to Mr Gayle was against the background that "younger and unexposed ones (athletes) are entering that arena".
The need for "a fulsome response" was mentioned. This journalist will spare both readers and the administrator himself the nature of the reply. Suffice to say, it was embarrassing, not the least of which, to this columnist.
Foster's Fairplay is making the case for a closer look at who is given the privilege of being AR to Jamaica's best talents. This assumes that there currently is any level of scrutiny by the governing body, which seems doubtful.
THIS CAN'T CONTINUE
The general secretary, laughable as his reaction was, definitely does not suggest that there is. This, in the best interest of Jamaica's youth who choose sports as their pathway to a better life, cannot be allowed to continue.
How can an athlete, who has already been to the highest level, bringing honour to country and self with a scintillating performance, be guided in the way he is now being steered?
As a winner at the recent Beijing trials, should he not be asked to occupy a legitimate stage on the professional circuit, honing skills and getting sharp for the stern tests in the Bird's Nest?
Instead, what is being heard is "no races planned". All that is scheduled is training, training, training. The suggestion of saving him from long flights (to Europe) falls on its face, with the Pan Am Games and all that it offers a four-hour aircraft flight away.
Come on people, track and field supporters are among the brightest. Certainly, they are not fools.
The plot thickens, when it is considered that the AR, blessed with stewardship over this athlete, was herself a most talented participant in the same event. Do not take Foster's Fairplay's word. Check the year 1993. Then, she won the USA collegiate title and, days later, the national crown as well. It made her the world leader of those entered for the event at the World Championships in Stuttgart that year.
Her coach at the time, prescribed "no races in the interim". This columnist, new to the sport then, was her agent. She entered Stuttgart, unexposed to any of the Americans and Russians who were to be her opponents there. Her performance at the big show was dismal.
Jamaica's head coach expressed his opinion to this columnist, there in a radio station coverage, in words unprintable. Efforts to contact her were not successful.
Is this where arguably Jamaica's greatest young talent is being led?
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