Foster's Fairplay | Respect the fans
This is the week of the ISSA-GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Championships (Champs). It is not unusual in this corner of the globe, and more increasingly, elsewhere as well, for all non-related activity to be placed on hold to accommodate the news from competition bubbling at the country's National Stadium. The rivalry this year will be at maximum intensity, triggered by a now-settled but debilitating fuss as to whether a young man from the African continent should or should not be allowed to run alongside what are really his own people. But before Foster's Fairplay gets to the meat of the matter, there are some tempers to be soothed.
Last week's column brought protests from two distinguished members of the Kingston College family. Further information is that there were more, but reference is hereby made to the ones seen by the writer. The article implicated the principal of the named high school in certain unwelcome remarks on local radio. He should have not been so accused, having played no part in the discussion between two top executives of the Champs governing body, the InterSecondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA). It was a case of inaccurate reporting on the part of Foster's Fairplay and, as such, an apology is in order. It is now given without reservation to the Kingston College principal and any member of the school's fraternity who might have been offended.
While recognising the enormity of the task that the distribution of Champs tickets entails, one is reluctant to come down too heavily on the already burdened organisers. It is simply that they are being asked to do a little more in support of the multitude of fans who are without access to tickets. The conclusion is drawn as a result of a little exercise to test the waters to ascertain the status of persons who were forced to seek alternate means of watching Champs as entry to the Stadium is proving to be so much of a problem.
An announcement on social media that five season tickets were available at a cost was met by calls from over 30 individuals, each seeking multiple tickets. What was striking about the requests was that they all came from Kingston College people, whom one would have thought represented the core of supporters of the big event over the years. The fact that they, of all people, were caught empty-handed and with minimal possibility of getting through the turnstiles, told a compelling story - several long time fans are being disenfranchised, unable to partake in what had become a habit. Customers, at all levels, whether in or out of sporting endeavour, need to be respected. It is their input, over time, on which a lot of the success of our sporting people, is built and sustained.
So what can be done to save that type of person - perennial supporters - from being denied the opportunity to be a part of the live audience at an occasion in which their interest runs deeply. One is not sure how much thought has been given by ISSA to setting up television screens strategically placed in different regions of the island, where patrons, left without the Stadium option, can go and enjoy the spectacle, even if it means reduced passion and excitement. One thing for sure is that the rivalry, school against school, will not be absent. It could be an interesting challenge for the organiser's to create an atmosphere where those attending would have access to paraphernalia to identify the Fortis and the Rabalac or any other school that wishes to be so labelled. An additional suggestion is that every so often, there could be shots of the frenzied crowd action beamed in all directions to show what is happening at each of the other viewing centres.
Foster's Fairplay concedes that the hype and razzmatazz on show at the National Stadium is unique, but the placing of Champs centres throughout the country would at least be an attempt to satisfy patrons who are now disgruntled. Too many who have been accustomed to being at the Stadium for this talent-riddled event have been virtually locked out for sheer lack of adequate space to accommodate them. Spreading the entertainment and resultant joy over a wider area should be a consideration to be explored.
Try it nuh, ISSA.
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