Western Grandstand- Lessons in the banning of Excelsior and Eltham
In my opinion, the one-year ban slapped on Excelsior and Eltham high schools by the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) for the disgraceful conduct of their players and supporters following the playing of the final of ISSA Twenty20 cricket competition, is the kind of decisive action that should be taken whenever indiscipline rears its ugly head and threatens to tarnish the image of sport.
In fact, I felt so pleased and satisfied with the action that was taken by ISSA that I felt there was really no need for this column to make an issue out of it. However, after hearing a number of persons, including a few individuals whom I thought were balanced in their thought process, saying ISSA should only have punished those persons who were directly involved, I have decided to address the matter.
Since the players were out performing under the banner of Excelsior and Eltham when the incident occurred, I can't see the sense in wanting ISSA to individualise the matter. When the teams do well, the schools get the credit, so when the teams behave badly, the schools should also absorb the blame.
While it is true that no sane administrators would sanction any such conduct, the principals, the teachers and the other students at Excelsior and Eltham should realise that the young cricketers who were involved in the fracas were out representing them and not themselves. Therefore, whatever they did, they did so as representatives of the schools.
I believe that instead of trying to make an issue out of the action taken by ISSA, the principals should use this matter as a teaching moment for the other students, who should be made to realise that indiscipline has no place in school sports and should neither be encouraged nor entertained.
In my view, what makes the situation even worse is the fact that based on reports, the incident was not spontaneous but was something that was simmering for quite some time. Therefore, had the school been paying close attention to the competition and the behaviour of the students, the matter might not have escalated in the manner in which it did.
While I can understand the general disappointment at the two schools, the students and teachers who played no part in the incident should nonetheless understand that under the principle of collective responsibility, they just have to understand that since the players were out representing them, they were made guilty by association.
That is why it is very important that schools put mechanisms in place to monitor all activities involving their students. While I don't know if the coaches of the two teams played any part in the ugliness that took place, there are far too many cases of students being left at the mercy of coaches by schools, especially when the coaches' sole motivation is winning trophies and not promoting the all-round development of students.
The fact that ISSA is recommending that the respective schools take action against the coaches would seem to suggest that the coaches might not have done enough to contain and control the situation.
This column has had a long history of being intolerant of coaches who display uncouth behaviour around students, and by their conduct also cause students to fall out of line. That is why I was overjoyed when Alfred Henry decided to quit as the Manning Cup coach of Jamaica College because, in my opinion, his regular tirades were hurting the school's image.