Sports

Children live what they learn

The Sporting EDGE

With Paul Reid

Thursday, September 14, 2017

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Schoolboy football – the daCosta Cup and Manning Cup – easily commands the most attention on Jamaica's sporting calendar, and rivals even the uber intensity of the five-day Boys' and Girls' National Athletics Championship.

It is no surprise, then, that high school sports would head the list of sporting events in Jamaica, in view of the competition among schools that has been going on for more than a century.

Other events such as club football started long afterwards, and inter-collegiate sports much later. Except for the exploits of national teams performing overseas, nothing else stirs the emotions like teenagers engaging each other in what are basically extra-curricular activities.

But as we have seen, far too often that passion boils over and ruins the event for the fans. Tempers flare, nasty insults are thrown, and in the majority of cases, this behaviour comes from off the field.

Spectators, parents, and sadly, some teachers – including principals – most of whom have not even a passing knowledge of the rules of the sport, are often ejected from some of these games.

One of the most unfortunate rules that the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) has had to implement in the past few years is insisting on the presence of security personnel at games.

Smoking ganja and drinking alcoholic beverages – sold at the games – is now part and parcel of the 'enjoyment', and oftentimes when the teams are not playing well, referees are blamed, and that's when things get out of hand.

It is distressing when adults in positions of responsibility are heard intimidating another person over perceived poor officiating, or worse – threatening to shoot them.

In a country where more than 1,000 people have been murdered in the first eight months of this year, this cannot be dismissed as “mere talk” or “someone simply expressing their anger”.

Then there is the other end of the spectrum where some teachers, especially young females, cannot control themselves when their schools are winning. It is not out of the ordinary to hear them addressing boys by their aliases: “Yow, Shatta!” and running to the sidelines to high-five them.

How will these boys respond to these 'fans' in class the next day and in the months to come?

Will the boys be able to see these teachers as adult role models, or will they think they are the ones to be praised?

Adults, teachers and parents must understand the roles they play in the lives of children. They must also understand that children feed off their energies.

At a recent schoolboy football game, minutes after a parent was asked to leave the sidelines after hurling homophobic slurs at the referee, his child committed a second yellow card offence and was sent off, leaving his team weakened in a close game that they would eventually lose.

I can only imagine the conversation when they got home later that day, and I would not be surprised if that child then chose to use profanity and lash out in anger when trying to express himself.

Children live what they learn.

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