Posted: November 30, 2012 in Politics/Current affairs, Sports & Entertainment

Anyone who is an avid fan of sports, particularly any european football league, is familiar with the notion of the transfer market. This refers to the two periods – one in August and the other in January when teams are allowed to negotiate the “purchase and sale” of professional players. With January on the horizon the rampant speculation that this season of transfers evokes is already heating up. Forgive me if I misled you but by no means is this blog post about the Robin Van Pursetrings or the Cristiano Ronaldos of the world.

In fact quite paradoxically the subjects of this post are for the most part children not professionals. Yes, you guessed it i’m wading into this big hullabaloo in the Jamaican society today regarding student-athletes frequently being “bought and sold” to and from the powerhouse schools in schoolboy sports. Let me state it upfront  I 100% abhor the practice ( and not just because certain schools keep nabbing the best footballers from my alma mater though that makes the practice even more painful). Notwithstanding my hatred for this practice of “buying” schoolboys for the principal purpose of playing sports, I think some of the more recent comments have been beyond the wildest degrees of Hyperbole. With due respect to some of the fine minds that have been commenting, likening the practice to lance armstrong’s alleged drug cheating or to modern-day slavery might be slight exaggerations to put it mildly.

But I disagree in degree and not in substance as I said before the status quo in schoolboy sports cannot continue. We cannot have a situation where the term student-athlete becomes a misnomer because the student no longer is required to achieve certain levels of academic success, but rather win trophies for the school in sports. No one is knocking a child and his/her parents for transferring from one school to another for the purpose of bettering that child’s development, but when these kids become pawns in a game of “we must win at all costs” so some old boys can sit at the bar and celebrate I cannot support that. Not to mention the fact that once these “assets” have passed their athletic usefulness and have not been proportionately guided in the academic and life skills departments oftentimes little care is shown about what happens to them. Too often they are discarded and the same big men that reasoned with them as “peers” have limited interest in their welfare. I know the previous two sentences paint extreme cases but sad to say there is truth in them.

Dont get me wrong either or confuse me with self-righteous academics that wish to look down on those in society who are unable to collect letters before and after their name. This is not that. I do not expect that every student that matriculates to high school will become Albert Einstein or Professor Stephen Vasciannie. The natural gift that some of us are given will be art, some of us it will be singing and for some of us will be in sports. Therefore I am all for the development of players and for intense focus on sports for those who are seen as having the potential to earn some bread through that vehicle BUT THERE MUST BE SOME BALANCE.

If we say we are running schools, then it must be schools that we are running and the first and foremost purpose of an educational institution is EDUCATION. All other extra curricular activities must be seen as complementary and auxiliary to the learning process and even if one is going to enter a field where “book learning” is not paramount each individual must be brought to some agreed minimum standard of education. If we are primarily focused on athletic development for those identified as potential professionals then another vehicle apart from the school structure as is must be created to satisfy this cohort. What immediately comes to mind is the football academy structure in europe where the focus is primarily football with basic educational training provided in tandem.

What is clear is that whilst we claim to be operating schools the Student-athlete MUST BE A STUDENT FIRST. Also these students must not be commodities traded to and fro despite their academic performances in the pursuit of victory at the expense of their future.


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