By Karen Madden
The highly anticipated ISSA Grace Kennedy Boys and Girls championship is now just over a week away, and based on the meets over the last few weeks, it will be a cracker, filled with the usual excitement, frenzied competition and fun.
Unfortunately, over the last couple weeks the narrative has gone in a direction which is most unfortunate.
In sport all over the world transfers are near pretty routine. In Jamaica we seen an increase in the number of athletes, not just moving from one local school to the other, but also students from overseas coming to Jamaica.
Prior to the much publicised case now involving Kingston College, student athletes who have transferred from overseas have competed at Champs for Kingston College, Calabar, Munro College, St. Jago High, St. Catherine High, Jamaica College, to name a few.
Personally, I have no issues with this. My moral compass is that of a good parent who always seeks the best for my child.
The transfer of a student athlete from Uganda should not have been so mired in controversy.
I place the blame for this squarely at the feet of ISSA.
Transfers must be governed by rules, and as the governing body, ISSA is the custodian of the rules.
ISSA, I believe, reserves the right to consider a case on its own merit and make a decision based on the extenuating circumstances of any case.
Where I depart from ISSA is when said decision becomes shrouded in secrecy, leaving tongues to wag, conspiracy theories to be developed and conversations to be governed by speculation.
I wish to make two suggestions to ISSA:
It is time to overhaul the rule book to account for changes in the business of sport, because while the organisation governs school sports, it operates within an environment in which sports is a business. From the colour of shoes, to registration of athletes, to ambush marketing, the rules need to be one step ahead, they must be unambiguous without grey areas that a first year student at Norman Manley Law School could easily challenge.
Secondly, it is time for ISSA to employ a communication specialist.
I have a lot of respect for ISSA's Competitions Officer who is now tasked with communicating with the media and other external publics.
But managing competitions across all 14 parishes is a full time job which should not be juggled with communication, which is a specialist job.
ISSA manages school sports but this is not a “play play” business and the governing body needs to re-invent itself in tandem with the challenges in today's world.
Karen Madden is Senior Reporter/Producer with the RJR-Gleaner Group. She also co-hosts the daily sports programme, Girls' Sports Club, on Hitz 92 FM, a member of the Group.