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A THORNY ISSUE: Let’s keep it clean

ANDI THORNHILL, [email protected]

A THORNY ISSUE: Let’s keep it clean

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THERE’S A GROWING anti-Springer Memorial sentiment in school sports circles, which I find appalling and disturbing.

When you’re on top for as long as Springer has, I can understand people wanting to knock them off their pedestal, but I don’t think the steps taken to do so have to border on malice and hostility.

During the first zonal meet of the Barbados Secondary Schools Athletics Championships (BSSAC), I heard several unnecessary taunts and innuendo being thrown in their direction, including those from some people I think should know better.

You would think that the perennial girls’ champions were aliens coming to take over the country. It was that bad.

The worse of all was the suggestion that the officials were “thiefing” to favour Springer after they overcame a strong challenge from Christ Church Foundation to win the Esther Maynard Zone by just 16 points, the closest anyone had come to beating them in competition for over 15 years.

In fact, that suggestion wasn’t only unfair to Springer, but also defamatory to the character of the officials. Then again, I think sadly it is a norm that such inferences are made against innocent people and nothing is done about it.

More fundamentally, I don’t believe the adults who say harsh and negative things against Springer, in particular, and other schools in general, are aware that they might be inadvertently creating bad blood between children who, under normal circumstances, may be friends, but could suddenly become enemies because of rhetoric coming from the mouths of people they look up to and seek direction from.

Let’s all promote fierce rivalry during competition, but don’t let us encourage a notion that after it is finished and the spoils have been rewarded, that the conquerors and the conquered can’t have civil interaction and that camaraderie is placed on the back-burner. If we do otherwise, we will sow seeds of discord in the minds of our youth and society will reap the backlash of an approach that is counter to the best practices in nation-building.

Learn from Springer

Not only that, I think the other schools and their supporters should be learning from the Springer model, in terms of the formula they have used so successfully over the years to become track and field queens and to maintain it for such a long period.

Surely, you can’t be repeat champions by guess or accident, so Springer’s management must have worked out a concept which appears to have been flawless through the years.

Instead of people trying to discredit them in any way, they should be credited in every way because they have raised the bar and set a very high standard for their peers. Their blueprint can guide and uplift all of us.

The inclination, therefore, should be for others to try to emulate what they have done, so that at some point the students can topple the masters by replicating and, if possible, enhancing their methods.

For instance, one thing I understand that has made Springer great is that they train all year round. I have no doubt this may be motivated by the fact they need to protect their legacy and hard work has to be at the apex of such an assignment.

What’s so wrong with that? What’s stopping their rivals from doing the same with the hope of attaining similar results? Do others have the same level of discipline in their quest for success? Do they plan strategically like Springer to compete and win?

I have often heard the talk about numbers favouring Springer as the sole all-girls school in the island and there may be some truth in this supposition, but you must still have the quality to compete and win as often as they have.

Respect is due. Stop the hating.

Foundation showed that if you have the quality, the hunger to win, and you bring your A game, you stand a better chance of toppling them.

That’s the only kind of talk that matters.

• Andi Thornhill is an experienced sports journalist and media consultant.