Good job ISSA, but….

The Sporting Edge

With Paul Reid

Thursday, August 23, 2018

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The powerful Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA), organisers of high school sports in the island, launched their 2018 football season yesterday with the announcement of new sponsors to replace telecommunications giant, Flow.

Despite their many flaws, ISSA must be commended for the seamless transfer from one sponsor to the next, in a market where sponsors are hard to come by.

It's certainly a testament to the power of high school sports that ISSA has been able to attract quality sponsors, and the quantity of the sponsorship deals speaks volumes. It bodes well!

We were led to believe that ISSA were left high and dry without a sponsor, and had little time to scramble to try and find one but, in fact, they had a succession plan-sponsors were lining up, chequebooks in hand, waiting to take over.

Not that every school sporting endeavour gets the big money, as schoolgirls' football and female football on a whole struggle, but that is par for the course, as in the American college sports systems, the revenue of a few sports benefits others.

While we congratulate ISSA and thank Flow for five years of exciting and groundbreaking sponsorship, it might be timely to remind ISSA that they still have a lot to do.

For one, the schoolboys are playing way too much football in a short space of time, in fact, more football than the multimillionaires in the professional game. In 2016 for example, Cornwall College were forced to play 11 games in a 30-day period, including back- to-back trips to Kingston for the last two games in the Super Cup KO, and after an emotional loss in the final had to travel to mid-island three days later to play in the Ben Francis KO semi-finals against a Lennon High team that had not played a game in 10 days.

The initiative that started a few years ago, where all fields used by schools would be inspected, seems to have stopped, as there are games being played on fields that are not even fit to be used as parking lots.

The Kenilworth Heart Academy field comes to mind. Even when it is dry the field is a hazard, and said field becomes really dangerous with the onset of the slightest rainfall, which causes huge puddles of water all over the surface of the already faulty field.

Hopefully the idea of the Super Cup will be revisited, as while it brought a lot of excitement to the season, it fell well short of the 'development' that it was supposed to achieve, in my opinion.

There is nothing wrong with the traditional competitions, including the Ben Francis and Walker Cup knock- out competitions, and if ISSA is to keep the Super Cup it should be fitted into the schedule, not displace what is already there.

Let's now shift gears to the other big-ticket item under the ISSA umbrella, Champs.

It's obvious, at least to me, that the event has grown too big for ISSA.

For example, instead of coming up with innovations to match the times, the organisers have resorted to knee-jerking rules to restrict the media.

For the past few years members of the media have been barred from going to the warm-up track at Stadium East without any explanation, and this effectively has cut off access to coaches and managers.

In the era of the live telecast of Champs and with the plethora of results sites available, results can be delivered at the press of a button or computer key.

We are journalists, we tell stories. we are not there to simply record results and report stale news that everyone has already seen or heard, so we should be allowed to do our jobs the best we know how.

What makes this even more egregious is that George Forbes, the ISSA competitions secretary, is a journalist. So too is Ed Barnes, who is in charge of the media at Champs. As such, both men are expected to understand my point.

ISSA, the JAAA and the operators of the National Stadium come up short when providing for the media at track meets. Something MUST be done about increasing the space allocated for the media in the so-called tribune, as the numbers are a disgrace.

The National Stadium is the ONLY venue I have been to for a major track and field meet where there is no proper mixed zone, at which members of the media can get interviews with athletes, following events.

The dinosaurs did not evolve, and they paid the ultimate price.

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