Analysing 'Muggy's' logic
The official 2015 Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) calendar had its birth last weekend at the Jamaica College (JC) campus.
The event was the 22nd annual Pure Water/JC Invitational Track and Field meet. Selected as a qualifying event for what the world recognises and highly respects as Champs, an interesting tussle for the early body and mind blows was envisaged.
From this point up to the pre-Easter, National Stadium-staged, four-day classic, it will be which coach can upstage his or her rival in the weights room, on the track or from any other legitimate platform.
This brings this columnist to the hotly debated and emotionally charged - in several cases - topic of what is acceptable practice and what is not.
The matter of recruiting athletes to join the more established and better-funded programmes has received much comment. The well-established ploy has been taken to the extent of the ridiculous by some in their quest for that little extra. It has been and will remain, unless curbed by officialdom, a crucial, if costly, Championship-deciding factor in the fortunes of the few.
Kingston College (KC), JC and Calabar are the main suspects. They jockey and play 'musical chairs' for the most coveted spoils at the world-acclaimed Champs.
None of the opposing commentary to the methods under question have been more controversial and contentious, than that coming from a most passionate student of sport in Lascelve 'Muggy' Graham.
Muggy a distinguished product of the Jesuit institution known as St George's College, adorned schoolboy football playgrounds in the early '60s with some of the most attractive artistry and beautiful ball work. He was known for the calm, cool and composed manner in which he waded through defenders as though they were marked absent on the match card.
Acquisition of athletes
However, in contrast, he has introduced a degree of angst to the ongoing debate, namely, "the acquisition of athletes for sporting advance and not academic pursuit".
Foster's Fairplay has pointed fingers as to who are the main players in a saga that has brought glory to athlete, school and country. Why not. There can be no secrecy in these exploits. It is open and animated manoeuvre, and the locations for the activity are well known.
The benefits, too, must not escape notice. Many a pot has been put and kept on the fire, coming from the inherent gains to the fortunate few.
That must be calculated by this columnist, and duly cited is the loss, if in fact there is any. In this way, credibility and image of journalistic pedigree are not only built, but maintained.
'Muggy' argues in words tantamount to "high school is for the academically inclined, go find another home for the budding sports stars".
Foster's Fairplay counters: "Yes, clubs seem to be the natural outlet for athletics skills and the nurture and care required to reap the fruits."
However, clubs have to be adequately funded for these dreams to be realised. Do not accept that from this corner, ask the nation's former Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Edward Seaga, who, along with his support group, struggles to come up with what is necessary to keep teams in the country's football Premier League afloat.
The high-school system is well supported from the massive hands-on efforts from past students. They delight in the chest-beating that comes on the back (pun intended) of on-field brilliance. You see them and hear the 'brap, brap, brap' when a record is broken or that trophy is held aloft at the end of competition.
Fundraisers attract further input. Reference here is to the same so called traditional schools which attract the talent from the primary and all-age levels, with a little poaching from their sister and brother schools.
This is greatly assisted by the transfer to sixth form or parents' residential relocation regulations.
Do we deny a Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce or Veronica Campbell-Brown a future among the stars by way of the elite high-school system because they are not academically viable?
It is either that, or we seek to upgrade their skills in the deficient area, equipping them to sit beside the whiz kids on even bottoms.
You decide, Muggy.
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