– Facts about ‘Nationals’: Part I
By Edison Jefford
It’s rather unfortunate that this missive had to be fashioned in the form of a response to an article that appeared in Kaieteur Sport yesterday. The misfortune has everything to do with the fact that I could have easily been a source of information for the author.
Instead, an ill-informed item with many misconceptions, irrelevances, and regurgitations was displayed. I mentioned me being a source of information since my belief is that it was public knowledge that I was a member of the Management Committee for the just-concluded National Schools’ Cycling, Swimming and Track and Field Championships.
Apart from me being a member of the Management Committee, the author must be aware of the fact that I am also an integral part of the Kaieteur Sports Department. I am saying this to say that information could have easily been accessible to the author.
However, with that aside, and the appearance of an article labelling ‘Nationals’ a “disaster”, I wish to categorically address some misconceptions. I will begin with what constitutes a “disaster” and the etymology of the word, leading to how it was misappropriated.
A disaster is generally defined as a calamitous event, especially one occurring that suddenly and haphazardly causes great loss of life and damage as a flood, airplane crash, or business failure. It should be made known that none of the above occurred at Nationals; therefore, it is rather safe to conclude that the reference to “Nationals” as a disaster was irrelevant.
So what was the “disaster” about Nationals that was attributed to the Management Committee? I can easily say that there was none. However, there were issues-issues that were extensively given coverage in every section of the print and electronic media. Admittedly, some of the issues were administrative in nature and this was not hidden from the public domain.
Reference was made to the fact that a champion was awarded though many of the events were to be completed. Again, I want to reiterate that had I been questioned on this subject, I would have been able to point the author in the direction of the Director of the Sports Secretariat, who would have revealed that between 85-95 percent of the competitions were completed.
With that being a fact, Upper Demerara had an unassailable lead overall that was fair enough to conclude that they won the Championship. The appearance of the team’s group photo under the opinion piece yesterday brings the team’s efforts into disrepute.
Noticeably, the item published in our sports pages regurgitated earlier publications on issues that had absolutely nothing to do with the Management Committee. For example, the committee was in no way responsible for the protest action of South Georgetown, which was one of the issues to have caused the author to refer to the National Championships as a “disaster”.
The Management Committee does not deal with registration of athletes and to comment on what really caused the protest, one particular district should have been firm on the rules governing the registration process. It was at this district’s level that the process was breached and the result was a protest that delayed a Championship that rain had already affected.
The compromise of one district resulted in the protest. The Management Committee was ushered into an unfortunate situation with having to mitigate between the protesting district, the district at fault and the high-profiled parent of the athlete at the centre of the furore.
Secondly, another “disaster” referred to in yesterday’s article was the fact that the food of two of the competing districts arrived late and was of a poor quality. Again, this was given the credence as if to suggest that the Management Committee was somehow responsible.
Proper investigation would have informed the author that it is the regional offices of each district competing in the Championship that is responsible for providing them with food. These are facts that could have easily been made available to the writer. I intentionally avoided comment on the strap-line of the article that said “Athletes displeased with poor organisation”, since at no point in the article the identities of those athletes making the claims were revealed.
One of the fundamentals of good journalism is that quotations must be attributed to someone or somewhere, but except for comments on the social network, Facebook, which lacked attribution, there was no mention of who are the individuals making the statements. It would be errant of me to respond to comments that lacked a source and therefore lacked credibility.
I have dealt with all the issues except one. There was a reference in the article to Jamaica School Boys and Girls Championships, and an attempt was made to draw a parallel with what obtains in Guyana. For the sake of space, I could not deal with that in this missive.
The magnitude of such an undertaking requires a separate assessment, which I plan to deal with in my second instalment in relation to this matter.
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