So Champs is Over — What Now? (The Ugandan Situation)

Well … I’m about to head to the doctor first thing Monday morning to get my heart checked, I suggest the same for all of you. Five days of excitement was way too much for my heart to manage. Boys and Girls Champs 2017 was one for the record books. The energy even from behind a computer screen was electrifying. The level of talent coming out of our likkle island is UNMATCHED. The future of Jamaican track and field is SECURE! (We say this every year like we needed convincing.) 

BUT, now that Champs 2017 is over and the dust has cleared, the million dollar question is … is it safe to talk about Ari Rodgers without seeming biased? I’ve been asked about my opinion on the “Ugandan Situation” a ton over the past few weeks, especially because of what I do. Now that the excitement’s over, I thought I’d share the mental process I went through when trying to figure out how I felt about the situation from a recruitment counselor’s perspective. 

I’m a recruitment counselor who mainly specializes in helping Jamaican student-athletes find Universities/Colleges and athletic programs abroad to call home. With that being said, I’m HERE for Kingston College’s decision to recruit internationally. If we can give more kids the opportunity to shine like Jamaican student-athletes do, why not? 

The real issues arise, however, when the stadium lights go out and Ari Rodgers becomes your everyday STUDENT-athlete. Now, he’s here — we’ve brought him here (yes WE). How has his future been altered as a result of that decision? As a student coming from outside of Caricom (yes I saw those Zharnel references) let’s explore the possible options for Rodgers beyond Kingston College: 

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Higher education in Jamaica:
Will he need to complete CSEC/CAPE to be admitted into our local universities?
What are classes like him for now?

Will he continue his event here as a collegiate/professional student athlete even though the long distance events aren’t our area of expertise? 

Higher Education in the United States at the Division I/II Level:
Will the NCAA require the same academic standards from him that they do Jamaican student-athletes seeking eligibility? 

Have any amateurism rules that will leave him permanently ineligible been broken in order to bring him to Jamaica?

Going Pro after Graduation:
Will he be going back to Uganda to perfect his craft there? 

Did we bring him here JUST to send him back home when we were through with his talent?

He Stops Competing After High School:
If he doesn’t choose to or can’t pursue higher education, or never becomes competitive enough to go pro does this promising young man hang up his spikes for good?

What’s next for the youngster who, (though still has time), has virtually no competition locally and is just under a minute short of being a qualifier on the NCAA division 1’s top 95 list in the 5000m?

This isn’t a question just for his caretakers. These questions are for decision makers who’ve just opened the floodgates. How do we protect the futures of other students like young Rodgers beyond high school athletics?

(Open to all opinions) 

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