Should Calabar be banned to protect Champs, Jamaican athletics and education?

Thursday, April 04, 2019

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When violence in Kingston (1997) and Montego Bay (1972) threatened to destroy Jamaica's top schoolboy football competitions, the Inter-Secondary School Sport Association (ISSA) temporarily called off the Manning and DaCosta Cup games.

The vulgar incident at Calabar at Monday morning assembly perhaps does not rise to the level of physical violence. But the deed goes straight to the issue of indiscipline and moral turpitude that has been the bane of Jamaican society.

As many have suggested, this is a teachable moment — one which ISSA must be seriously contemplating in the way it did the violence against which it had to act to preserve what is an enormously critical organ of our nation.

As we stated in yesterday's editorial: “The problem facing some schools, including Calabar, is that they place sporting success above academic achievements. As such, athletes and other students blessed with sporting skills are revered and given a 'bly' when they breach rules and codes of behaviour, as well as when they underachieve academically.”

In other words, ah tracks man run these schools!

Of course, we hail the actions of the Calabar board in opening an investigation, calling the principal of Kingston College, sending a written apology to the staff and students of KC, and arranging for a delegation of teachers and students from Calabar to go to KC yesterday morning to participate in the school's devotion and to publicly offer the apology to the staff and students.

Yet, the question is whether those actions would be sufficient to drive home the message that such disturbing, distasteful and vulgar behaviour is completely unacceptable. Moreover, the incident has called the quality of our education and what the schools are imparting to students into question.

As far as the Boys' and Girls' Championships are concerned, one could easily conclude that the Calabar boys believe that they are entitled to win the Mortimer Geddes Trophy every year. It did not occur to them that after seven years, another school, in this case, KC, could win, hence the unbecoming slurs against their victors.

One other essential factor should be considered as we ponder the future. It is widely agreed that the foundation of Jamaica's prowess in world athletics is Champs. Should that foundation be destroyed by such erosion of discipline and lack of proper values and attitudes, what is to become of brand Jamaica in sports?

Let us not pretend that the problem lies only with Calabar. The Monday morning incident there is likely only the tip of the iceberg. Truth be told, it is very much a reflection of the society in general, the coarseness, lack of manners and common decency, the lack of caring for each other, especially our children, the utter chaos on our roads and the corruption in government, Petrojam being only the latest atrocity.

Should a ban of one year on Calabar's participation in Champs, and on any other school that behaves similarly in the future, be now considered? Surely, the punishment must fit the crime, if the required lesson is to be learnt.


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