On Target
April 5, 2012
Getting it right

The frequency at which the results of the annual Inter Secondary Schools’ Track and Field Championships are proven wrong and have to be changed points to the need for us to get it right, and get right the first time.{{more}}

Whilst last year’s female results took almost a year to be corrected, there have been other instances in the past when there were similar discrepancies.

What is most worrying, though, is that persons have grown accustomed to a changes in the results, so much so, even casual followers of the event expect to have some drama and fall out.

Indeed, the advent of the electronic timing and photo finish apparatus is a step in the right direction.

New to our shores, the equipment gives a more accurate indicator of the actual performance of the athletes.

Unfortunately, though, when the human factor is added, the new technology has not provided the expected level of proficiency.

Outside of the normal controversies, most coaches are generally on the ball and are vigilant with the results, as is bourne out by the fact that most of the queries made over the years have vindicated those who raised them.

This sort of aggression and alertness augurs well, not only for the moments of glory of winning the championships, but adds that passion for the sport, which hopefully can lift it up a notch.

Getting it right also calls for a paradigm shift in a culture of apathy, which seems to have become second nature among some persons.

This column is aware that there are always teething problems when new techniques or technology are introduced. However, inefficiency cannot be an accepted excuse.

For the time being, whilst the kinks are being worked out of the new technology, it may be wise to run the former manual systems in parallel with the electronic systems, in the event that things go awry. For example, in the event of a power loss at the venue or the malfunctioning of the equipment.

In addition, to bolster the new technology, in the interim, the scoreboard used for sub regional, regional and international Cricket matches can be utilized for the purpose of keeping a running tabulation of the scores for the respective schools.

This would provide some transparency and also help to keep the spectators in tune with the happenings, and keep the schools in line with their positions.

Notwithstanding the shortcomings, the championships remain the “look to” event on the national sports calendar, and indeed draw the largest attendance for any local competition.

The dyed track, the décor of the presentation arena and the enforcement of many of the internationally accepted Track and Field rules can only help in raising the bar of execution of events like these.

Additionally, our young athletes now get an insight of what pertains when they make the transition to the regional and international meets, hence insulating them from the customary culture shock.

Last week’s championships also proved that we can be good timekeepers, as the events in the main were right on cue with the programme presented to patrons at the venue.

And, in keeping with technology, the live streaming of the championships provides that platform for a wider reach, and eventually greater promotion of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The continued rise of schools like the Union Island Secondary and other non traditional Track and Field performers keeps levelling the playing field, forcing everyone to set new markers.

Additionally, the production of jerseys by the St. Vincent Grammar School and the Thomas Saunders Secondary, and the bantering chants and slogans to the boot, added that spark of friendly rivalry to the championships.

The Thomas Saunders Secondary erected their own tent to house their athletes to bond before the events, while the St. Vincent Grammar School had a Chiropractor on hand to deal with any aches and pains in an instant.

The two schools have set the pace for others to follow and ultimately surpass.

What is left now is for the athletes, their coaches, their parents and the wider community to see the benefits of Track and Field and sports in general to us all.

It is clear that the schools which are doing well have firm scaffolds of support from their principals.

Similarly, as with all sporting disciplines, coaches have to devise programmes which are designed to optimise their charges performance, whilst not compromising the students’ academics.

Finally, there must be that political will to make sports a viable alternative to social deviance.