Sun | Jan 21, 2018

Foster's Fairplay | ISSA should assume role of custodians

Published:Tuesday | May 24, 2016 | 12:00 AM

The fact that there is a whole lot of money swirling around track and field in recent times is impatient of debate. This might be relative, and the quantum is always guarded like the crown jewels.

However, with that practice reluctantly accepted, there remains a perception that there are those who, by fair or foul means, are seeking to cash in.

Foster's Fairplay is getting news of some devious and deceptive plays and byplays, which make for interesting dialogue. They appear to be designed and ultimately destined to draw some young talents into tangled webs created by the ambitions of adults who will manufacture and manipulate situations to serve selfish ends.

Some of these older heads have limited degrees of knowledge and insight as they pertain to the sport, yet they take on the responsibility of guiding young athletes into career-long decisions.

As to how the athlete - seeking to be the next superstar - is affected, is a source of deep concern. A particular case in point is cited.

Foster's Fairplay chooses, rightly or wrongly, not to call names. That said, the participants, as well as the target of attention, are well known to whoever is in close contact with the sport. Others will be alerted and will learn as time elapses.




The main objective is to let the relevant original caregivers be aware of what can happen when your youngster dares to show exceptional talent in the nation's most successful sport. These are the individuals, be they family or guardians, who are blessed with permanent oversight in the care and development of little Johnny or his sister.

Recently, a young athlete from a rural community appeared on the local track and field horizon. His performances identified him as one of immense talent, and as the popular saying goes, "one for the future".

That has a rich and potentially rewarding sound, no pun intended. But what about the present - the stage where careers are cast?

What happens or fails to take place at that stage can stymie or put to rest any advance for which the concerned will forever hope. This set includes the uninformed who mean well, and the unscrupulous who do not.

Before the 2016 season reached its climax - qualifying for and participation in the World Junior Championships in athletics - it is announced that the athlete in question has signed a professional contract with a leading equipment company.

Somewhere, an athlete representative or agent, hopefully with full official accreditation, must now be in the picture.

Surely, something is missing here.

Who is that person?

Is he or she skilled in acting in that capacity?

Given that this is a schoolchild, who provided the support needed and/or acted as the facilitator?




Additionally, given the nature of the transaction, is there an auditor in all this?

Should there not be an individual or group authorised and educated enough on the intricacies of these deals to work out the kinks or worse, that could be present, whether deliberately intended to disguise and deceive or otherwise?

Who is protecting the kid?

Jamaica's governing body in the sport is the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), soon to be highly commended by this columnist for a master move, as praise earned must result in praise given.

Surprisingly, this is not one of the several times President Warren Blake and his crew will be having their feet held to the fire.

Foster's Fairplay looks to the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association to assume its role as custodians for the sport at this level. It is mandatory, in this columnist's opinion, that this body of principals has a meaningful input when these deals are being cut.

As far as involvement in sporting activity is concerned, the young talents are precious charges, and a certain level of proprietary rights need to be exercised.

Athletes deliver with their hard work brilliance and dedication to what they do best. All the energy, enthusiasm and excitement that they generate have branded the ISSA showpiece, Champs, as a world-class event and all that is embedded therein.

Far too much remains the unhindered domain of coaches and others close to the athletes in these game-changing "sign here" decisions.

Come in, ISSA. It is time to flex your muscles.

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