Like a few persons, I raised an eyebrow when I heard that the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships or ‘Champs’ would be held this year.
The greatest high-school track and field event in the world (yea, I’m calling it) was missed last year for sure. But with the COVID-19 numbers that we were seeing in Jamaica earlier this year, I wasn’t too optimistic. For the record, I’m a pessimist by nature. But even up to periods in March and April, the numbers just didn’t look good. At least not to me.
But I’m not a technocrat, numbers cruncher, or medical expert. So if all of those people got together and came up with a plan for Champs to be held as safely as is humanly possible, who am I to say they’re bonkers? The 2021 edition of the beloved competition starts tomorrow and goes on until Saturday. I wish them all the best.
Here’s the thing, though. It’s going to be a weird Champs because of all the necessary protocols and precautions that have to take place. If yuh think security did tight at previous Champs, I can only imagine what it will look like this year.
I’m glad I’m not a sports journalist because I would have to get tested before the event and all these things. Plus, I suspect that the interview process with athletes will be a tad ‘interesting’. I hope we don’t have any incidents where a reporter literally gets tackled by security if they’re pushing the microphone too close. It would make the meme circuit in a hurry, I guarantee it. But, hopefully, we don’t have anything even close to that happening.
I’ve only been to Champs twice in my life, once when I was in about eighth grade, and the other when I was close to leaving high school. On both occasions, I had the time of my life, and it was in no small part because of the crowd. My cousins are Calabar old boys (Go Rabalac!), so I hung with them. And trust me, Champs did nice! Unfortunately, all that fanfare and revelry will be missing this year. Sigh. Necessary, of course, but still sigh.
But let’s look at the bright side. Athletes for whom this would be their final year at Champs get a chance to bow out in style. Plus, this is the perfect platform for overseas coaches to see them in a real competitive arena. But the vendors who eat a food outside Stadium gate get lef’ this year. Not to mention the man dem who help people park dem car.
But you know who mi feel it fah di most? The scores of Jamaicans in the diaspora who fly back home specifically for Champs. For some of them, the trip serves as a family reunion, vacation and high- school alumni link-up all in one. Sure they can still watch it live via the Internet, but sitting in the stands with your crew from the old days? Ah, nothing compares. So it go. Maybe next year.
Link me at firstname.lastname@example.org.