By Orville Higgins
Like most sports-loving Jamaicans, I was following the case involving Camperdown and the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) with interest. Camperdown had failed to show for their game against St George's College on Saturday, and it was widely expected that the axe would fall heavily on Camperdown if they didn't come up with a good reason. Some were speaking of a two-year ban, which in my mind would have been completely out of place.
It is my belief that no matter what, no school should be banned for two years for anything. That achieves absolutely nothing but punishing the innocent. It cannot be fair for youngsters in third and fourth form now to be unable to play Manning Cup in a year or two, because of a crime they didn't have a hand in committing. Certainly, that is a slap in the face of what natural justice should be about.
A fine, yes. Kicking the team out of the current competition, yes, but no sanctions should be meted out that seek to make students suffer down the road when they did no wrong.
GOT AWAY ON A TECHNICALITY
Camperdown managed to convince the ISSA disciplinary panel that their prinicipal received the news about the rescheduled game late (mostly because of Hurricane Sandy) and, in any case, ISSA never went through the proper officials when contacting Camperdown in the first place, which ISSA is admitting is a fault of theirs. Camperdown then supposedly got away on a 'technicality'. The game was ordered rescheduled, and Camperdown escaped any real sanction.
What is interesting is that St George's did turn up for the game and it could well be argued that if they could turn up, so could Camperdown. Circumstances differ, though, and although it does look a little odd that one team showed up while the other didn't, ISSA clearly accepted Camperdown's story and cleared them of all wrongdoing.
Or did they? Camperdown has been required to compensate ISSA for arrangement of the game, including security, rental of the grounds, referee fees, and the expenses of the travelling team, St George's. How can that be? The whole thing, I am told, came up to approximately $80,000. This ruling is strange. Very strange.
If ISSA believes that Camperdown purposely avoided the fixture without good reason, the school should be found guilty and suffer the full penalty for their action. Full stop! On the other hand, if ISSA believes that Camperdown had legitimate reason to miss the game, the converse should be true. Camperdown should be found innocent of all wrongdoing and sent away scot-free.
How can ISSA accept that it was culpable in how the communication process was handled, and not be the ones to bear the full brunt of the cost of staging the game? How can ISSA accept that the reason given by Camperdown not to show was a good one, and then still ask them to pay some of the costs of putting on the game? Isn't this really tantamount to handing out a monetary fine? To a team that was found innocent and supposedly 'got away'? That, I'm sorry, makes no sense at all to me.
You can't be half-guilty, or half-innocent. By its ruling, ISSA is effectively saying that Camperdown is both innocent and guilty at one and the same time!
How can Camperdown be asked to compensate ISSA and St George's for missing a game that ISSA agreed they had good reasons to miss? It appears that despite ISSA accepting that Camperdown got away on a 'technicality', it still believe that Camperdown should be blamed for something. That can't be. It appears that ISSA is disappointed at the ruling of its own disciplinary committee and had to give a little 'last lick'.
What is probably even more strange is why it is that Camperdown has agreed to this. Was Camperdown so relieved that they escaped full sanction, including a possible ban, that they were prepared to pay over these monies which clearly they don't think they should pay?
Were I the Camperdown principal, I would refuse to pay over anything. To my mind, paying over these monies, without protest, is almost effectively accepting that they should be partly blamed for the game not being played. To my mind, ISSA is wrong here, and if Camperdown pay over this money, without vigorously contesting it, so is Camperdown!
Orville Higgins is the 2011 winner of the Hugh Crosskill/Raymond Sharpe Award for Sports Reporting. Email feedback to email@example.com.