Stand­ing to­gether in the face of pain

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS -

WHEN CAVAHN McKen­zie died at the end of a 2014 cross-coun­try race in Trinidad and Tobago, it was aw­ful for St Jago High School. His team­mates got the news as they con­tested the Gib­sonMcCook Re­lays and it crushed them. Their school­mate, team­mate and friend had left them for in­ter­na­tional duty and, tragically, never re­turned home.

Un­for­tu­nately, the same kind of tragedy has vis­ited St Ge­orge’s Col­lege with the equally sad pass­ing of their Man­ning Cup foot­ball cap­tain, Do­minic James. This time, there was a cruel twist as he died dur­ing a Man­ning Cup game, with spec­ta­tors there to wit­ness his last mo­ments. Truly, for all present, it must have been a ter­ri­ble mo­ment.

Th­ese grue­some things scarcely hap­pen in sport which is en­ter­tain­ment for many. Yet, the grief felt by ev­ery­one has to jump-start new pro­vi­sions to safe­guard the health of ath­letes at ev­ery level. In this re­gard, the early an­nounce­ment about heartscreen­ing high-school stu­dent ath­letes be­com­ing manda­tory is most wel­come.

After McKen­zie’s un­timely pass­ing in Trinidad and Tobago, Team Ja­maica Bickle, that won­der­ful group of Penn Re­lay bene­fac­tors, has as­sisted with screen­ing ath­letes and by do­nat­ing ma­chines – known as de­fib­ril­la­tors – which are de­signed to restart hearts.

This may have to be­come stan­dard for high school, club and na­tional sport.

As a pre­cau­tion, it may also be wise to ex­tend the school­boy foot­ball sea­son into Jan­uary. The present sea­son squashes the Man­ning and daCosta Cup, the Walker Cup and Ben Fran­cis KO and the FLOW Su­per Cup into a rapid-fire sched­ule that has teams play­ing three times in seven days, with com­pli­ca­tions if rainy weather in­ter­venes.

BUSY SCHED­ULE

The sched­ule gets busy for the top teams, when the later stages of the Cor­po­rate Area Man­ning Cup and the ru­ral area daCosta Cup com­min­gles with the Su­per Cup and the Cor­po­rate Area Walker Cup and the ru­ral area Ben Fran­cis knock­out com­pe­ti­tions.

The con­ges­tion is no one’s fault. There are far more el­i­gi­ble schools than in by­gone days. Luck­ily, the so­lu­tion is sim­ple. The sched­ule could be re­laxed by mov­ing the Su­per Cup into Jan­uary, the first month of the Easter term.

That is a mat­ter for another day. Right now, the Light Blues need our love and sup­port.

As with the St Jago case, James’ fam­ily and his team­mates at St Ge­orge’s Col­lege need coun­selling and the stead­fast em­brace of ev­ery Ja­maican.

At times like th­ese, the only choice is to stand to­gether.

I

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