Sun | Nov 27, 2022

God, Champs and mistakes

Published:Thursday | April 5, 2012 | 12:00 AM

LAST SATURDAY, the great Calabar High School won the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) Athletics Championships. In spite of the many outstanding performances, it must be acknowledged that there were mistakes, such as in the Class Two 4x100 when we dropped the baton. It would have been a different story if Calabar did not win the championship. Persons would claim that Calabar track stars are jokers.

Last Thursday, Calabar won the TVJ's Schools' Challenge Quiz competition during a keenly fought contest with Titchfield High, but the boys prevailed in the end.

It needs to be appreciated that mistakes are part and parcel of life. Life is made up of, to use a lawn tennis analogy, winners and unforced errors. And we must be fair in dealing with mistakes and have a mechanism to deal with errors.


It is, therefore, unfortunate how ISSA deals with errors made by school administrators which deprive athletes from a chance to compete because of late or incorrect entries. There are other options. There could be a late fee. In addition, points could be deducted from the school, making them start with a handicap.

Interestingly, when the administrators of Champs make mistakes there is no visible punishment. For example, when they claimed there was a late or incorrect entry when it was not so. And to show that God 'nah' sleep at Champs, after two preliminary races in a particular event it was discovered that an athlete was overlooked, and the solution was to have two finals! I have never heard of such a mistake before. But, again, no administrator was punished but athletes get shafted.

We are also not allowing for mistakes in the sprint races with this new one-false-start rule. It puts current athletes at a disadvantage when comparing former athletes who competed under a different rule. Furthermore, these athletes should not have this harsh rule at Champs. The hurdles are lower for Champs, and so should be the false-start rule, which is harsh even for adults.

The one-false-start rule needs changing because the rule is unfair, and because an athlete can false- start in the 100 metres in the decathlon and heptathlon and would have another chance. This is a double standard. What applies to one athlete concerning false starts should apply to all.

In any case, in other track-and-field events, persons are given chances peculiar to the event, such as in the long and high jumps where a competitor can have a maximum of two consecutive bad jumps. In addition, starters timing is not standardised and they vary the time between 'get set' and 'go'!

Non-life-threatening error

It seems unfair for an athlete to train for a year only to be disqualified after one simple, non-life- threatening error - a false start. There is no discipline that should be so harsh!

There are other options, including giving each athlete one handicap per event. It would mean that each athlete could false-start only once, whether it is in the heats, semi-finals or final. Or the time gained from the false start can be deducted from the eventual time of the athlete's race. The point is, we need to make allowance for non-threatening mistakes. When we don't, then we are pretending to be God, that is, perfect.

Thankfully, God makes allowance for our mistakes. He knew that we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, hence Jesus the Christ died on our behalf so that we can experience forgiveness of sins and given another chance to live a full and satisfying life.

During this holy weekend, may all my readers experience God who forgives mistakes.

Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. Send comments to