By BRENT STUBBS
IT IS not how you start, nor how you get there. Most importantly, it’s how you finish.
• The Finish Line, a weekly column, seeks to comment on the state of affairs in local sports, highlighting the highs and the lows, the thrills and the spills and the successes and failures.
THE WEEK THAT WAS
THE 35th Hugh Campbell Basketball Classic saw the Tabernacle Baptist Academy Falcons taking the prestigious senior boys’ basketball title back to Grand Bahama for the seventh year.
But while it turned out to be an exciting final as the Falcons won 58-52 over the CI Gibson Rattlers at the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium, there are still some issues that have surfaced in the week-long competition.
Yes, it’s an invitational tournament in that either the teams enter or they don’t. But for those who do, why is it that the rules and regulations that govern the various leagues – Government Secondary Schools Sports Association, Bahamas Association of Independent Secondary Schools and the Grand Bahama High School Sports – don’t apply and, if they are, not properly enforced.
The major issue every year, and it seems as if the tournament organisers still can’t get a handle of it, is the eligibility of the players participating.
If players only have four years of eligibility to play in their respective high school leagues, why are they given the opportunity to play in the tournament?
Is it that schools are still only repeating players or recruiting players who have already graduated from different schools to participate in the Hugh Campbell? That could be the only reason if they know they can’t play in their school leagues.
The four years should cover those players, particularly in the private schools who move up from their junior teams in grade nine and will have three more years to look forward to playing at the senior level.
I can understand a player who would not have participated as a junior and went through his three years of eligibility as a senior and returns for a fourth year, if he would have already graduated.
That shouldn’t be the only reason why they are back to play after graduation. There are cases when some of the players require some college prep work, if they are leaning towards going to college.
But that is not always the case because many of these players who return after graduation are still not getting off to college.
Whether it’s an invitational tournament or not, I think there should be some parity for all players, especially those who would have completed their three-year tenure as a high school student.
Not to rub it in, but I remember a few years ago, the Ministry of Education took a drastic stance and suspended both the CI Gibson Rattlers and CC Sweeting Cobras from participating in the remainder of the GSSSA postseason after a big bench-clearing brawl in their game.
Unfortunately, history repeated itself during the Hugh Campbell Classic but, this time, it was CI Gibson and Anatol Rodgers who were involved in a bench-clearing brawl during the elimination segment of tournament. As fate would have it, the GSSSA champions Anatol Rodgers lost the game and were ousted. CI Gibson had two players ejected and they were allowed to continue play.
Again the rules were inconsistent with those that are in place for the school leagues and the Rattlers were able to advance all the way to the final.
Does the rules apply for the Bahamas Basketball Federation/Ministry of Education’s National High School Basketball Tournament currently going on in Grand Bahama?
The Hugh Campbell (Basketball Classic) has always been a competitive one, but I think the rules and regulations should be consistent with those that the school leagues operate under with the same rules being applied across the board.
The Bahamas Football Association and FIFA should be commended for their joint effort in making the CONCACAF Beach Soccer Qualifier a success last week at the newly constructed beach soccer facility at Malcolm Park.
The tournament, which featured 16 teams from the region, didn’t have the crowd support during the day but during prime time, the games were well attended for the live television audience.
If what was experienced during CONCACAF was any indication, the FIFA World Cup - scheduled for March 27 to April 7 - will be just as exciting with 15 of the top teams in the world competing here.
The BFA is already looking at providing big television screens to be erected on Malcolm Park to accommodate the large crowds they anticipate will flock to the facility to view the high level of competition.
And with each country expected to bring their own fans to cheer them on, the BFA and FIFA should not have to worry about the free fanfare for entry into the stadium, which is being considered one of the best constructed anywhere in the world.
So get ready.
FIFA held a first class Official Draw for the World Cup and they anticipate that even more strict measures will be implemented when the competition gets underway.
Hopefully, over the next few weeks, the BFA will assemble a national team that will compete at another high level in the tournament as they did in the CONCACAF Championship, winning their pool with a 3-0 record before losing their final two, including a 4-2 decision to the United States of America, to finish in sixth place.