KINGSTON — The sentiments expressed by many persons, following the sudden and untimely passing of sports administrator, Howard Aris, have eclipsed the perception that political activism and unbiased national service are incompatible.
With over 45 years experience in general management and administration, with specialised expertise in sports development – planning, training, administration and physical therapy – the spirit of caring and his people centred skills are the attributes that have defined the man and established his enduring legacy.
Two tributes paid to the late President of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), Howard Aris, who died on Thursday, November 10, conveyed one simple message: “Howard Aris made a far-reaching difference to sports, because he genuinely cared."
Sports Minister, Hon. Olivia (Babsy) Grange in her tribute opined: “The entire world of track and field will be poorer for his passing,” while Ambassador-at-large and reigning World and Olympic sprint champion, Usain Bolt, said via his Twitter account shortly after the passing of Mr. Aris, that track and field had lost an “iconic figure."
"The track and field fraternity has lost a man who cared for the sport," said Mr. Bolt.
Olympian, Grace Jackson, First Vice-President of the JAAA, and pro-tem head (interim President) of the association described Mr. Aris as “an outstanding leader and a true gentleman,” who always focused on the greater good. "He was a strong leader, someone who brings out the best in you, a caring and kind person," said Miss Jackson.
Mr. Aris, who held several posts in sports administration in Jamaica, especially in track and field, died at the age of 75. He will be buried today November 22, 2011.
He served as a coach, manager and official representative of the country in several capacities at regional and international games, including the Olympic Games, the Commonwealth Games and Pan American Games.
President of the Jamaica Olympic Association, Mike Fennell, who partnered
Mr. Aris in Jamaica's record showing at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, conveyed the message that, "this is a terrible loss for sports and in particular athletics as Howard's contribution over many years has been truly outstanding."
The interim Board and staff of the Sports Development Foundation (SDF) praised Mr. Aris as a man who "spent his entire life promoting the development of sports in Jamaica, particularly in track and field."
Mr. Aris was one of the founding Board members of the SDF. He served on the Board from 1995 to 2011 and was Chairman of the Foundation from 1998 to 2007.
The JAAA is an association established to promote, develop and regulate amateur athletics in Jamaica. It provides instruction and teaching of athletics to teachers, coaches, instructors and athletes. The Association also organises competitive events in Jamaica, establishes rules and regulations, while providing rewards to winners.
By Allan Brooks, JIS Senior Reporter