Hubert Lawrence | Time to settle down
"It must be remembered that the Sports were not held in 1944 as the Headmasters felt a break might cool down the enthusiasm that had shown itself in the past."
That's the explanation given in a book on the first 60 years of Boys' Championships by Sir Herbert McDonald for the cancellation of the event in 1944. Things are different now, and, despite the agitation that prevails as the "Sports" approaches this time around, no such measure is desirable or anticipated. However, with a dispute blowing in the wind, the need to cool down is as pressing now as it was in 1944.
Perhaps the members of the Headmasters Association of 1944 might have cancelled Boys and Girls' Championships this year given the heated arguments regarding the eligibility of a student from Kingston College. Their present-day counterparts have much more on the table. Champs is the sport that helps the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) fund those others who have no sponsor. Athletics, football, and cricket are all taken care of, but the others only survive because Champs is a financial success.
Sports like table tennis and volleyball teach many student-athletes the value of hard work and team spirit while affording them opportunities to gain scholarships. Champs is a major reason why those so-called minor sports are contested at the secondary-school level. Without Champs, those sports would be crippled.
In 2002, the Government of Jamaica helped to alleviate this burden when Champs was held away from the National Stadium at the G.C. Foster College for Physical Education. The move was forced by the resurfacing of the stadium track for the World Junior Championships. With just a handful of spectators accommodated at the college, the Government stepped in to help.
The financial constraints of 2017 suggest that no such help would be possible today.
Yet, the current state of unrest is unhealthy. Regardless of their opinion of the eligibility ruling, the fans on each side of the divide have to take a step back. Boycotts have their place as a tool of protest, but they hurt as much as they help.
Not only are fans denied of seeing the best against the best, but athletes from the absentee teams must watch as others take their spot on the top of the podium. Outgoing seniors and defending champions lose their chance to stake a final claim to greatness. Instead, they sit on the outside looking in.
It hurts when you lose in what you consider to be a matter of principle, but boycotts hurt everybody more. This is why the real solution is calm. This is why it is time to settle down.
- Hubert Lawrence managed to get into G.C. Foster College for Champs 2002.