Foster's Fairplay | Principals' Principles
Foster's Fairplay is, not at this juncture, concerned with rights or wrongs of the ongoing squabble as they pertain to the eligibility of the Ugandan athlete, Ari Rodgers, to participate in the ISSA-GraceKennedy Boys & Girls' Championships next week. That aspect of the saga has been settled by the world-renowned event's governing body, the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association with Rodgers' school, Kingston College, coming out smiling.
The grimace, however, is on the face of the other school realistically contending Champs supremacy, Calabar High, whose five-year winning streak is under the hammer of a Kingston College, hungry to latch on to a major trophy. This has led to a scenario that is threatening discord and disarray amongst the supporters of the two factions. As reggae artiste George Nooks sang in the 70's, "Tribal War, wi nuh wan nuh more a dat."
The principals of both schools are not looking good in all of this, as the punches and counterpunches are in the public space. Someone needs to take the time to alert them to the importance of the role that they are being compensated to play. They need to be seen primarily as promoting the establishment and maintenance of discipline, good order and industry. As far as their public profile on extraneous matters such as the Rodgers affair is concerned, there is a tolerance limit that is on the verge of being exceeded. A boiling point has been reached
In recent times, there are many acts of deviant behaviour among students, and some have led to disastrous outcomes. To address this, there have been initiatives like the appointment of guidance counsellors, Peace and Love in Schools (PALS) and the introduction of safety officers from the Jamaica Constabulary Force. Will it soon be necessary to institute similar moves to keep the principals at bay or away from each other's throats?
Foster's Fairplay firmly believes that now is the appropriate time to advise the combatants that adversity does not change you adversity actually reveals who you are. Individuals holding high offices should conduct themselves with the highest degree of ethics. Airing their grievances on radio programmes is not the decent way, as it does not send the correct message.
The ISSA rules, as they regard qualification to compete, are quite clear. One is hard-pressed to recall an occasion when their implementation has been mired in such controversy as in this matter regarding the Ugandan athlete. If the latest ruling can give rise to this type of confrontation that puts one school's top administrator up in arms with his counterpart elsewhere, maybe it is time to design an alternative strategy. The fact that the students could attempt to justify their sometimes recalcitrant behaviour on the grounds of "Is the same thing Sir did on TV last night" provides just cause.
Foster's Fairplay suggests that disputes such as the on-going one should be discussed and settled by a designated body, far removed from the schools' administration. The latter should be left to cater to the diverse demands of educating students and preparing them for the wider world.
There can be no doubt that Champs is a blessing to be nurtured and cherished. However, it tends to bring out some disturbing traits in some of the persons involved in its structure and execution.
When consulted by Foster's Fairplay, a former Calabar athlete, coach Vaughn, now plying his trade conditioning athletes in Florida, USA, commented, "I have come to see that the championships is but a drop in the bucket of our life experience. Life is bigger than any Champs win. The adults in this should be ashamed of themselves."
Champs too sweet, take the bitterness elsewhere.
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