Dennie Quill, Gleaner Columnist
Congratulations are in order for the organisers and students who contributed to the successful staging of last week's Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/GraceKennedy Athletics Championships for student athletes from across the island. From all accounts, it was a glorious occasion, and many persons left the National Stadium with memories that will last them a lifetime.
To the winners, Holmwood and Jamaica College (JC), we must express thanks for their wonderful performances that placed them at the top of the tables. To all the athletes, we say thanks for giving us a glimpse of the next generation of world-beaters. Kudos all round to the participants, coaches and alumni supporters.
The management of ISSA can pat itself on the back for continuing to execute these highly organised and efficiently handled meets. High praise is due to ISSA for facilitating the spirit of competition by giving our youth an opportunity to develop physical and personal skills.
But more than that, many ordinary citizens were encouraged by the stance taken by ISSA not to accommodate late entries from nine or so schools. The clear message which ISSA was communicating to us is that the Championships are being conducted in a spirit of fair play, which is integral to the proper conduct and success of this meet. Hopefully, more attention will be paid to deadlines next year so that the athletes will not be denied an opportunity to compete with their peers because of administrative snafus.
JC's principal, Ruel Reid, must feel vindicated for not caving in to the pressures of winning at all cost. His decision not to allow a star athlete to participate because of poor grades could have affected the school's chances; but as it turned out, this principled decision did not stand in the way of victory for the boys of JC. The lesson to be learnt from this instance is that standards of achievement in the classroom are as important as standards of performance on the field. We hope that principals and coaches will try to adopt a similar balanced approach in future. The focus should be on athletes delivering their best efforts, both on and off the field.
athletes need to face reality
Athletes must come to grips with the realities. They have to recognise the demands on their time and try to organise themselves in such a way that they can achieve their goals. These students should exploit all the human and other resources that are provided by the school and the wider community. We should aim to develop rounded athletes by paying attention to the physical, mental, social and psychological aspects of their growth.
Everyone knows that what was on display during last weekend was the culmination of rigorous training, dedication and teamwork. If we understand that success is not the same thing as winning, and that failure is not the same thing as losing, our student athletes will come to measure themselves by something else other than the outcome. Adults, including parents, teachers and coaches, can help the youth set goals based on performance and fair play rather than results.
Dennie Quill is a veteran media practitioner. Email feedback to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.