My love for art is unquantifiable. I have always aspired to own a gallery littered with artworks reflecting history and modernism. It beats the imagination that I never studied the arts, just like my favorite artiste, Babajide Olatunji.
A hyper/photorealist, Babajide seeks to bridge the lines between reality and fiction, while also telling stories in his piece. One of which is “THE MARTYDOM OF REASON” after a Yoruba proverb “Orí bíbé kó ni oògùn orí fifó,” which means “you cannot cure a headache by decapitation“.
You’d wonder where I’m headed with this. It’s the small matter of the Higher institutions football league. Its six days since the déjà vu feeling of seeing the Tillers and Malabites make a second straight finals. The football, electric, The drama, anticlimactic. Why? The Malabites weren’t even supposed to be in the picture. They were knocked out in the Quarter Final by the ESUT Explorers in what I’d call Act 1 Scene 1, Lights, camera, action.
The Explorers would head to Benin to play the main antagonists of this drama, the Uniben Royals in their first leg semi finals in Act 1 Scene 2. A 1-1 draw had put the much talked about Easterners on the brink of a place in the final. Enter, Investigative panel. They’d prove to be party poopers. The Explorers were found to have fielded an ineligible player and then banned. Guilty as charged, the dark horses accepted their sentence in good faith.
However, the other semi-finalist was subsequently notified that she would now play a different opponent in a one-off game. Act 2 Scene 1 had begun, Like an ex-convict seeking fairness, the Royals didn’t see the rationale behind playing another opponent when they were out-rightly thrown out last year and not replaced by anyone.
The Questions were much; if you were HiFL, what would you have done?
Two similar incidences had happened the year before with the ABU Nobles and Royals. The rule-book was swiftly applied on both occasions as it has been this occasion too. The eyebrows raised come from the slight adjustment of Uniben not going straight to the final.
Beneficiaries of the Rule-book
On company grounds, the Royals were right to ask for a final berth, but they had been declared excommunicado a year earlier by the rule book. One that meant they shouldn’t even have participated this year. Goalpost shifted? It was a clear message from the HiFL; “This is our tournament, and what we say are the rules are the rules”.
The Royals then, having enjoyed from the magnanimity of the organizers, should have accepted the one-off semi-finals. Like Babajide says in his artwork, decapitation has never been the cure for headache. The subsequent show of “insolence” after the hand of friendship was stretched was unacceptable hence subsequent disqualification.
The HiFL is the home of the organizers, the schools are the guests, they’d have done well to accept whatever interpretation the organizers gave the rules especially when they have benefited prior. The Game is always the Game.
However, the Organizers may need to introspectively deal with issues and utilize the rule-book to its full extent circa the expelled teams this year. They should honorably serve their one-year bans for sportsmanship and fairness.
While, no one wants to cure headaches with decapitations, But the right pills must be used when they matter. After all, what is an event without its participants and what is man without rules? Hopefully, schools would stop using ineligible players especially as the rules allow the participation of both Postgraduate and Undergraduate students.
Special Contributions from Engineer Kowope (@UndisputedJSam)
Author: Tosin Adesina
A football purist.