When Howard Aris died in November 2011, a member of the Jamaica Athletic Administrative Authority (JAAA) told me that Aris’s passing was going to be a major blow to the organisation as it would be impossible to fill his shoes as president. In the year since those words are proving to be prophetic as with an election looming at the end of this month, the incumbent slate is under attack from outside and from within.
The latest body blow to the current administration has come from Dr. Winston Dawes, a vice president who has said he will not stand for re-election. His parting shots were not kind, but no one can argue about the validity of what he says. Dawes was brought in to the JAAA by Howard Aris and for the past eight years has been one of the most credible voices of that organisation. He doesn’t speak publicly often but when he does speak his statements are laden with nuggets of wisdom. Earlier this year while organizing the Jamaica International Invitational track meet, the JAAA at the last minute decided to introduce fees for accreditation for journalists and impose restrictions with regards to the use of images taken by photographers. It didn’t go down well. But while members of the JAAA executive continued to play hard ball with the media, Dr. Dawes was perhaps the only one to come out and apologize and admit that mistakes were made.
He now walks away from the JAAA and says he believes its image has taken a battering because of information that has now come out during this escalating feud between track icon Donald Quarrie and iconic coach Glen Mills. It is a feud that has hurt the image of both men as information that has now come forth is suggesting that this was an organisation that has swept too much under the rug and now there is no more room. Things are beginning to show and what we are seeing doesn’t look good, and it smells even worse.
Mills, in responding to allegations made by Donald Quarrie who claimed that Mills threatened not to support Dr. Blake if Quarrie was on his slate, denied Quarrie’s claims and has called for an investigation into the mile-relay fiasco and the London Games and other similar occurrences at other championships. These statements are embarrassing but even more importantly they beg the question; what else does the public not know that needs to be revealed?
There have been so many incidents over the years that have been quashed, hidden from the public’s eyes in the hope of preserving credibility. Claims of possible financial impropriety and possible tampering with the list of delegates down to vote at the upcoming elections – whether true or not – doesn’t do anything to help restore the JAAA’s image that is currently in tatters.
When matters like these arise, it is not uncommon to have knee-jerk reactions and throw the baby out with the bath water. After all, this current administration has accomplished a lot, but perhaps the time has come for there to be significant changes, freshen things up a bit. It is time to sweep all that muck from under the rug and remove those skeletons from the closet; time to start anew.
New people can mean new ideas and new ideas can lead to useful innovation.
Life occurs in cycles and perhaps the Aris/Blake cycle is over and time for a new one to begin. What must not be lost in all this however, is that our success at track and field must be sustained and indeed, enhanced going forward.