By: Denise N. Fyffe
Copyright © 2016, Denise N. Fyffe
There has been a firestorm of controversy following the Jamaica Senior Trials, held in Kingston Jamaica, this month. Taking the center stage is the non-selection of Jamaican discus thrower, Jason Morgan, by the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
JAAA vs. Jason ‘Dadz’ Morgan
Many have made it their duty to express their opinion and demands of how the situation must be rectified. Namely, adding Jason Morgan to the Jamaican Track and Field Team. Many have also not analysed the matter objectively – taking the rules and historical data into consideration – and come off sounding like a ‘wagonist’.
I am wary of the strategic maneuverings of Mr. Morgan. Ordinarily, if this was a case of any member of any company or body, this would be viewed entirely different. Rather than make a direct appeal to the JAAA, the volcanic chess play was taken to the airways and social media. Certainly, this has brought the JOA and the JAAA members, executive and selection committee into disrepute. It has also brought Jason Morgan into disrepute.
They say you catch more flies with honey, and not with vinegar Mr. Morgan.
Jamaica is a very aggressive and opinionated society. People tend to resort to intimidation and bullying to get their way. However, when it comes to international organisations that are held to account by international ‘governing’ bodies; the stance is that ‘bully tactics’ and impressive social media ‘gimmicktry’ just wont work.
Rather than step off into the sunrise of the 2016 Rio Olympics with good vibes and high expectations for our athletes; Jamaica has been ‘psychopathic-ally’ maneuvered into a muddy ditch. Rather than handling the matter with respect, we have launched our business into the social stratosphere with a ‘dirty bomb’.
I urge every fair and free thinking Jamaican to read and analyse the facts. Check the historical records and come out from under the expert ‘public relations’ sway. After which, you will realize that there are a few occurrences that seem ‘questionable’. If they are questionable, to protect its reputation and by extension, the reputation of Jamaica; the JAAA have had to make a hard decision. Because come on, who doesn’t like the ‘public’ face of Mr. Morgan.
But remember, we are living in a time of Bill Cosby ‘revelations’, scandal and court cases. We are living in a time when the ‘7th Heaven‘ Dad & Pastor Stephen Collins – Confesses on Tape to Child Molestation. We are living in a time, when seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong was exposed and charged many years later for doping.
Be wary. Be vigilant.
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I have read a few of these opinion pieces on the case of JAAA vs. Jason Morgan and I find the article written by Orville Higgins, to be more comprehensive in laying out the facts.
The case with Jason Morgan continues to be hotly discussed by most people in track and field circles. I can understand why.
‘Dads’ is the kind of guy you can’t dislike. He is very big on social media, constantly sending inspiring messages. He’s a very positive individual who is very strong mentally. His determination to stick to his dream of becoming a world or Olympic champion is admirable.
I have spoken to him and was instantly drawn to his charismatic personality. Athletes have told me, and indeed have posted on social media, that he is the “vibes man” on the Jamaican team. He wears his heart on his sleeve, and his impassioned, tear-filled outburst on television some months ago endeared him to a lot of Jamaicans, athletes and otherwise. He is to be given a lot of credit for the Government deciding to assist athletes with a financial package monthly.
Jason finished fourth at the national trials and was not included in the Jamaican team to the Rio Olympics. He is not taking it lightly. He is, reportedly, taking it all the way to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). This I find a little ironic. Going to CAS is not cheap. I’ve heard that it can cost up to US$50,000 for your case to be heard. For a man who was crying on TV for assistance a few months ago, this business of going to the CAS seems a little odd.
Jason has said he has done all he has been asked to do and that it’s unfair that he has been left off the squad. I disagree. Yes, he is one of only two Jamaicans to have the qualifying distance for the Olympics, but that’s only part of the story. One of the things he has been asked to do is to finish in the top three of the national trials, and this he has not done. Finishing fourth means that he can no longer get automatic selection and has to depend on the JAAA’s discretion.
Where Morgan does have a right to feel aggrieved is the case of the long Jumper Aubrey Smith. Smith finished seventh in the trials but has been selected on the team on the basis that he has the qualifying distance, again one of only two people in Jamaica in his discipline. Morgan can reasonably ask, “How come I finished fourth and couldn’t get a spot, while a man who finished seventh can get a spot when we are in similar situations, where only one other in our discipline has the qualifying mark?” It’s a fair question.
The JAAA has been at pains to say it has nothing personal against Morgan, but that it was simply not convinced that he would ever do well at the big occasions. Morgan has a PR of 68-plus but hardly replicates that form in global competitions.
My sources at the JAAA told me that he was taken to Osaka at the World Championships in 2007 – this at the B standard qualifier when they were not duty-bound to take him. There he finished 28th out of 29 performers, throwing in the mid-50s. They tell me he was also very disappointing at the London Olympics, finishing 39th of 41 athletes, again throwing in the 50s. In Beijing last year, he was 22nd from 30, although this time, his throw was better, touching the 60 mark.
The JAAA is clearly saying that Morgan has repeatedly demonstrated that he is not a big-meet performer. It is clearly saying that he has got enough opportunities at these global championships and hasn’t distinguished himself.
His recent Diamond League form shows him struggling to finish even in the top five, and he hasn’t come anywhere close to his PR. At the Racers track meet, Morgan finished seventh of eight competitors and was not impressive.
Against this background, the JAAA has all right to be sceptical of Morgan’s ability to rise to the occasion. Personally, I would take him, but maybe I’m just captivated by his larger-than-life persona and not looking at the hard, cold facts.
Some say the JAAA is being hard on him because he embarrassed the association when he made his revelations about the lack of help to athletes. Is he suffering for that? It’s hard to say, but the truth is that Morgan has not done enough to demand a place or command attention. Whatever our feelings about Morgan, we ought not to knock the JAAA’s decision.
• Orville Higgins is a sportscaster and talk-show host at KLAS ESPN Sports FM. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.