Tue | Jun 15, 2021

Unacceptable, says ISSA

Published:Tuesday | May 18, 2021 | 12:14 AMDaniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter
President of ISSA, Keith Wellington.
President of ISSA, Keith Wellington.
Petersfield High’s Antonio Watson (left) celebrates with a gun play gesture towards Edwin Allen High’s Bryan Levell as he crosses the finish line ahead of him in the Class One 200m final during the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletic Champions
Petersfield High’s Antonio Watson (left) celebrates with a gun play gesture towards Edwin Allen High’s Bryan Levell as he crosses the finish line ahead of him in the Class One 200m final during the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletic Championships at the National Stadium on Saturday.
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Members of the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) were notified by the association’s executive more than a year ago that offensive gestures would not be tolerated in high school sports. A memo was sent (to schools) in November 2019...

Members of the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) were notified by the association’s executive more than a year ago that offensive gestures would not be tolerated in high school sports.

A memo was sent (to schools) in November 2019 advising that such practices should be ‘discontinued immediately’. The issue was reignited last Saturday after national junior sprinter and Petersfield High student Antonio Watson made a gun play gesture as he crossed the finish line to win the Class One 200 metres title at the National Stadium during the 2021 ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Championships. Watson has since faced a barrage of criticism from the public given Jamaica’s current crime rate and the frequent use of the gun. The athlete apologised for his action on Sunday night.

Yesterday the president of ISSA, Keith Wellington, revealed that incidents similar to the one which took place at the National Stadium had occurred in other competitions.

WRITTEN WARNING

“It is something that this is not the first time it has happened and we had previously written to all schools warning about the nature of such celebratory activities including the symbolic shooting of a gun. We have had a few other incidents in other competitions. And so we have made it clear to our schools prior to now that these actions were unacceptable,”Wellington said.

In a release yesterday afternoon ISSA said while they value and encourage victory celebrations, it must be “within the Code of Conduct that guides how we act on and off the field”.

“ISSA also recognises that an apology was made by the athlete and we accept his apology in recognition of our mission to use opportunities like these as teachable moments for our student athletes to adapt socially acceptable behaviour,” the statement read.

Ahead of the statement Wellington told The Gleaner that the association was evaluating the matter and while he did not say if Watson would face any disciplinary action, he said that he is appreciative of him recognising the error of his ways.

“We are currently reviewing the matter. We are happy that upon reflection he would have apologised. We understand that he did an interview trying to explain what his intentions were. We are also happy that he made it clear that his intentions were not intended to be malicious but none the less we found it to be unacceptable,” Wellington told The Gleaner.

Petersfield High principal Rohan Green and head coach Machell Woolery have called the celebrations unnecessary but both said that they would use the opportunity as a teachable moment for Watson. Watson, in his apology, said that he will strive to display positive attitudes, to be an example to other young athletes.

“I have taken responsibility for such actions as it is no way a reflection of the ethos of my school, the principles of my coach or the position of ISSA or any of its sponsors,” Watson said.

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com