Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Follow The Trace | Can The Tail Wag The Dog?

Published:Tuesday | January 17, 2017 | 1:00 AM

The pronouncement by the Inter Secondary Schools Sports Association's (ISSA) competitions director, George Forbes, to the effect that the tail is trying to wag the dog, and that the high school principals are not hired by the track and field coaches, but instead coaches are hired by principals, is poignantly appropriate and smacks profound wisdom.

This assertion by Forbes aptly sums up the situation regarding the feeble and splintered resistance to proposed changes to the competition rules to the ISSA GraceKennedy Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships.

The ISSA point man is absolutely right, especially in a context where the motivation for the hasty implementation for these rule changes appears to be the protection of the young athletes from overwork. The dissenting voices are struggling to make a credible case. Implicit in this attempted pushback is that ISSA has no proof that athletes are being overworked.

They continue to argue that until ISSA can present empirical data and hard evidence to prove that athletes are being overworked, then the governing body ought not to make not make these changes. What the coaches are failing to accept, however, is that the overwhelming reality is that for several years now, the vast majority of outstanding Boys Champs stars have failed to make the successful transition into the senior ranks.

 

INT'L STARDOM

 

Indeed, on the complete contrary, the Jamaican male athletes who have made the upward leap into international stardom have been predominantly athletes who were NOT the big Champs stars. Conversely, the list of mega Boys Champs stars who have fallen by the wayside is conspicuously long and winding, going back several years.

What the coaches have failed to do is to provide a plausible explanation for that worrying trend, and indeed offer any semblance of proof that physical and psychological overwork and burnout have not been major contributing factors to so many outstanding Jamaican youngsters failing to make that logical transition.

These coaches seem to be caught up in their own false sense of importance and have lost sight of the fact that ISSA is comprised of school principals, with their main responsibility being the welfare of the students who participate in high school amateur sports. These coaches, for the most part, are professionals who get paid based on the performance of their charges at Champs and elsewhere. The motives and perspectives of ISSA, and the coaches, are completely different. The coaches are in no credible position to make the defining call on this issue, since they are effectively the ones being accused of overworking the athletes.

 

ERR ON THE SIDE OF CAUTION

 

ISSA, that is the principals, in acting in the best interest of the youngsters under their tutelage, are well within their right to err on the side of caution in doing all within their powers to protect the long-term interest of the young student athletes.

Another chink in the coach's armour is their failure to demonstrate how these proposed changes will negatively affect the development and progress of the young athletes. The more genuine and credible concern is the rush in finalising the implementation of these changes just weeks before Champs 2017, since the preparation of the athletes are well in advance for this coming season, and it would have been much more reasonable to implement these changes for Champs 2018. However, even then ISSA, as principals have absolutely no obligation to anyone except their students, no coach, no coaching body, no expert or analyst, not even the president of the local governing body, the JAAAs. They, the principals and ISSA, are well within their right, and are indeed correct to push for these changes, and push for them now.