Unconvinced about the buying of student-athletes in Jamaica

By Melissa Talbert June 29, 2020

With COVID-19 keeping children all over the island at home this term, I began to make a link between them and student-athletes who, because of the changing nature of sports, move from school to school, resulting in a similar sort of dislocation.

Working from home for the student is an adjustment. All of a sudden greater levels of discipline are required if they are to do well since they do not have the same level of supervision.

This is also true for the athlete who moves from one school to another. That athlete has come to increase the school’s chances at success in whatever field of endeavour but he or she is a stranger. The checks and balances that take place with a student the school knows may not be there.

Then, of course, there is the obvious displacement, trying to acquire new friends, trying to fit into a different culture, getting to understand what is required of you from teachers. It can all be too much, and while the athlete may continue to do well on the field, other areas of their lives suffer.

COVID-19 has also impacted the schools significantly. Without the community, one school is as good as another, but the resources of the school also impact the school’s performances.

Schools with ready access to technology like WiFi, tablets and PCs will have an advantage, just like those schools with more resources in their sports departments.

That is attractive on the face of it and many students will leave their institutions to go to where those resources are.

But here’s the problem. The biggest resources are the students themselves. The same is true of the athlete. So when the brain drain takes place because of this COVID-19, or the athlete drain because of champs, Manning or daCosta Cup, the school that was struggling, struggles even more.

Now how can a school attract investment if all their potential stars leave? How will they attract other students, if they have no legacy of producing stars in whatever field?

That school is doomed to remain an institution that produces mediocrity for the most part.

In an interview with Caribbean Intelligence, Dr Lascelve Graham, a former coach of the St George’s football team said,  “...everybody has a right to education and you don’t have more of a right to education if you are a sports star.”

What is the solution?

The solution is to get school administration, coaches, teachers and parents to see the beauty in spending the time to cultivate greatness where it is first planted.

But instead, what is happening now, are mass migrations from ‘no-name schools’, to the traditional sporting powerhouses. What is happening now, are that many student-athletes are getting lost along the way, forced to compete for spaces at the front of a long line at these traditional schools. To what end?

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