Laurie Foster | Transparency, ISSA and school sports
The word 'transparent', as well as by extension its derivative, transparency, has undergone a type of metamorphosis in usage in recent times. As a schoolboy, this columnist seldom heard the word unless it was in the physics laboratory, when referring to objects that do not permit one to see through.
Times have changed and the usage, more often than not, evokes thoughts of how open an act appears to be. Some time ago, when the question about distribution of tickets for the annual Boys and Girls' Championships was high on the agenda, transparency reared its ugly head. A top executive of the title sponsors used the term and promised an investigation. It either did not happen or, despite several requests for publication the results were kept secret. This was seen as a bad sign.
Foster's Fairplay is now asking that sports administrators take a longer and more forensic look at transparency, and, more important, the lack of it as it pertains to the games that we play. There should be no absence of awareness as to the influence that those who excel at sports, exercise on our youth. Too many acts of corruption are made to seem that they are fair game and can be practised without repercussions. This cannot be the message which ought to be given and, if this is a nation which is interested in character-building, it should be seeking ways and means to fix it. Foster's Fairplay has some suggestions which could be considered.
First of all, this is not meant to be an initiative to turn us all into saints, but there are some irregular practices that ought to be identified. Having done that, let us look at how they should be addressed. This is not a plan to bring a halt to all of them in the immediate term as, Rome was not built in a day. However, it is believed that the quicker they are addressed, the better it will be for all concerned.
Track and field, as it is played out in our schools, is the main focus. I guess the same can be said of other sports but it does not really matter, as the message is the same.
The recruiting of athletes to leave one programme to go to another comes forcibly to mind. Foster's Fairplay cannot imagine why some aspects of this exercise are not considered to be distasteful and border on illegality. No student should be made to feel or brought into an equation where the transfer, as it is called, is aligned to inducements of cash or kind to make it happen. The fact that there is an oversight body in place to monitor and rule on these transactions, make the acts even more abhorrent. If the athlete reaches the elite level, the situation is duplicated when athletes representatives, or agents, and equipment companies are brought into the picture.
The question should now be asked: How much is the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) knowledgeable about all this? Assuming that the body is aware, how far are they prepared to go to stem this malpractice? The laws which exist to curb these irregularities are lucid enough to be clearly understood by all concerned. The problem is that where voluntary compliance is not observed, where is the action to promote adherence? What is happening now cannot be reflective of where we need to be
There are those who will argue that the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association should have their say in an attempt to control and issue sanctions whenever these practices occur. The problem which pertains to both the mentioned bodies is that they are volunteer organisations. They should not be expected to take on these tasks, given the level the acts of irregularities have now attained.
Debt to our children
It must now be over to the Government to set up a committee to look into the matters mentioned before they are allowed to mushroom out of control. This is a debt owed to our children. It cannot be right to allow them with their impressionable attitudes, to feel that wrong is right.
What has been highlighted, may only be the tip of the iceberg. Investigation could prove it to be even more serious.
Let's get it on. It is a responsibility that should be embraced.