CaribZone Commentary: Aubrey Campbell –Monday, May 2nd
From all indicators (sic) and from reports reaching my desk, here in the very deep south, everything Jamaican was ‘kosha and copasetic’ at the 122nd running of the Penn Relays Carnival, Pennsylvania, this past weekend.
Our athletes and sporting ambassadors ended the carnival, the weekend and the month, in a blaze of glory with some truly outstanding performances, all worthy of a golden moment.
Ably supported by the welfare unit, marshaled by Team Jamaica Bickle (TJB), our juniors spoke with their feet, again shutting out the competition in the Championship of America (CoA) events, the ones that really matter most.
So brilliant were the juniors that they surpassed expectations. Those who won, were not expected to. In other words, ‘champs is champs’. Penn Relays is promised to no one, just ask Kingston College, the boys with the athletic kryptonite (purple power) coursing thru’ their veins!
At the intermediate level, UTech, GC Foster College of Physical Culture and UWI-Mona, have rewritten the rules of engagement, putting Texas Christian, Florida, Tennessee, Georgetown, Arkansas, et all, on notice. The St. Catherine based college, now taking orders from Maurice the Magician, literally ‘killed it’, this year.
Watched by another near capacity crowd, including bus loads from New York City, the seniors were less than spectacular save for the men in the sprint relay event. A complete make-over with runners eyeing a spot on the team to Brazil. They did well under the circumstances and at this stage of their preparedness. The American have some work and catching up to do, but to be clear, they will be there in Brazil, with their braggadocios selves! And drop baton or not, Bolt, Blake, Asafa or not, we are going to beat them again!
That’s what dress rehearsals are for, to see where you are at and what needs to be changed, tweaked, adjusted, whatever. It is that scientific and it’s for that reason why we have devoted an entire college to the teaching of the fundamentals of bio-mechanics and it’s for that reason why we run so fast!
See, it’s not rocket science as some would have you believe!
That is just one part, one aspect of the story. This is the publicity and public relations part, the part that you see. The glitz and the glamour part. The fluidity of the humanoid form in motion around an oval surface, being chased or giving chase over a designated, pre-determined distance! The come the climax, the exhalation and a token to prove ‘mission accomplished’!
What is not seen is what goes on behind those closed doors in the classrooms, laboratories, gymnasia and boardrooms.
While our athletes were winning gold and glory for self, school and country on the weekend, a dear friend called ‘to vent’, at how unfairly the ‘shitstim’ works sometimes! She related the story of this very promising athlete who was recruited to a US college/university and whose parent(s), blinded by the prospect of an overseas education for the child, failed to read/ignored the fine print of the offer!
Now the ‘scholar athlete’ is in the middle of nowhere, literally, with no family and no resources and starting over would mean sports or academics, not both! She was not told that the scholarship offer is consistent with maintaining an above average grade point!
Last week, in this same space, I commented on the fact that of the 2,000 plus athletes who compete at ‘champs’ each year, maybe 20 of them will go on to higher education. 4 or 5 will make the senior team to a regional or international arena, 2 or 3 years after graduating!
It’s hard to blame the national governing body for athletics – JAAA – when parents and often times coaches, decide to go it alone. Pitfalls are going to be missed. And if they persevere and overcome, to the point where they are selected for national duty, should the JAAA then ask how did you get here?
You will not get it right all the time but given the ascendency of the national program over the last 20 years, it’s not unfair to call on the JAAA to do a better job of tracking the development of every single scholar athlete, both at home and overseas.
And it should not be about resources, either! The IAAF, like FIFA, have dollars a stone dawg. The government of Jamaica just recently established an insurance scheme for athletes that still needs some tweaking.
Our athletes are speaking with their feet and a healthy heart, we hope. We must now listen with an attentive, caring ear.
Brazil beckons. More gold and glory await on the Amazon horizon. How do you plan to celebrate?
Mothers, you are next. Step up, please, and be recognized! Jehovah jireh!
Folks, I’m off to celebrate my earth day! Wish me well.
That’s today’s conversation. You have the last word. Share your thoughts.