Jamaica’s sport industry remains one of its most valuable and viable assets, if properly managed. It starts with some of the following
- recognition that sport is indeed an industry
- choosing the right people to lead
- developing the most effective communication programmes to engage all its stakeholders
- engaging the tertiary institutions to conduct research, develop courses to enhance & evaluate programmes based on merit.
One should carefully note that a sport programme has some key components
- Management of resources – human, financial and physical
- Product Development
The country has a wide range of talent in several sporting disciplines, all of which requires development. It is obvious there are some sports that have gotten far more support than the others, and by definition are designated major and minor sports. We can agree that football, cricket, track & field, netball and basketball are major; while all the others are minor.
On the international scene however, competition has created
- greater opportunities for professional athletes and for earning $$$
- and for that there are those who want to damage the reputation of the sport
However, what administrators have to do is be aware of all the factors and employ strategies to ensure that the people under their care understand all the ramifications.
ROLE OF TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS
I have long advocated for coordinated efforts on research, programme development, training, engagement of international partners; but paying keen attention to Jamaica’s own culture while not diluting it. The attempt by the major players in the business i.e. first world countries, is always to maintain their status-quo. If that is disturbed, there is always an attempt to “find out why”.
Jamaica is boxing in a weight class way above its potential and if we think then that we won’t be scrutinized, then we are in for a rude awakening. What then must be a priority is
- Having all the facts
- Institute meaningful programmes – social & educational to enhance the current system
- Have research to back our claims
- Create economic models to make the industry work
- Legislate where necessary
- Provide better infrastructure for athletes and technical preparation
The Inter-Collegiate Association should maybe see now as a time to combine its efforts with its specialties to contribute to a more meaningful sport industry.
The worldwide sport industry’s value stands at an estimated range of 480 – 620 billion US dollars and is reportedly growing faster than national gross domestic product (GDP) rates around the world. With the framework that Jamaica has – if coordinated and managed, there is room to make the local industry profitable.
The clear thing is Jamaica MUST employ all its resources to develop and grow its sport industry while being mindful of what is at stake. With more success comes more scrutiny. It therefore means that the stakeholders must be educated to deal with the industry from preparation to performance on and off the field of play.