There's a sports fan in all of us
Dennie Quill, Contributor
It's quiet at the National Stadium now. Sponsors, athletes with their throbbing muscles, spectators, coaches, officials and the media have all gone, but the memories of a fantastic show will linger for much longer. Anyone who ever doubted that sports contribute to a happy life would have a change of heart after last weekend's ISSA/ GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Athletic Championships at the National Stadium.
We saw that same joy in fans when the Reggae Boys qualified for the World Cup. Heartiest congratulations to Wolmer's Boys and Holmwood Technical for realising their ultimate goal, and to all the other participants whose efforts were praiseworthy. We understand that it takes courage and mental fortitude to compete. And let's not forget the coaches, many of whom are performing a labour of love.
On this centenary celebration fans from all over the world beat a path to the tracks and many were simply blown away by the level of organization, the discipline and professionalism on display. The air was electrifying as some 30,000 fans crammed into the stadium to enjoy the buzz of Champs 100, and on the field were high school students from many schools across Jamaica, caught up in the adventure of competing against each other, displaying camaraderie, team work and fair play - which are all woven into the ethics of competition. The championships have enjoyed enormous growth over the years and has made a global impact.
The success of Champs can be directly attributed to the dedication of sponsors, administrators, coaches, athletes, parents and the spectators who come out to support them. For those who could not be there, the superb commentary of Hubert Lawrence and his team more than compensated. Hubert Lawrence was knowledgeable, kind in his comments, yet he was not patronising.
Regrettably, some schools are lagging behind in their sports programme, which means that able students are being locked out of competition, not only in athletics but in swimming, cricket, netball and so on.
It costs money for sports and that's a scarce commodity these days, and I imagine that sports programmes have to be subsidised. Parents are often drafted into the school programme to provide transportation and other resources. Clearly, the minister of education cannot legislate that all schools should participate in Champs, or sports for that matter, so in many cases, it is the alumni association that provides valuable assistance for these programmes.
There is no doubt that sports contributes to a nation's health and well-being. We need urgently to apply these lessons in our inner cities which have become breeding grounds for gangs and other criminals. It is time for communities to strip away the barriers that prevent persons from participating in sporting activities. It's time to take up the baton and pass it on to scores of talented youngsters all across this great country.
One person was overheard asking how is it possible for Jamaica to stage such a successful event, yet fail so miserably in organising its affairs on other levels - social, economic, education. The answer came from the most unlikely source, a teenager who replied, "Because Champs is not organised by Government."
Dennie Quill is a veteran journalist. Send your feedback to: firstname.lastname@example.org.