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Jamaica has to capitalise on the opportunities in Sport

KINGSTON, April 5 – The sport business changes every day and with the competition even more fierce in the boardroom than on the field of play, one has to be aware of the ‘matters arising’. So much has changed in the last five years. It is absolutely necessary for officials to keep in touch with the trends, forecasts and proposed outcomes in the massive industry. 

Sport means different things to different people, but for those who want to have a grasp on what is going on you may want to speak to a few persons. Some of them like sport because it provides an opportunity for gambling while some simply want recreation. In examining those two different perspectives, one wants to win and that act of gambling is a game itself; while the other would like to be able to hike, walk, cycle, run a 5K, ski maybe just for fun. 

The point is though, the many areas of the sport business creates an opportunity for an entire population to participate. Here is how – the business itself focuses on value of teams, value of sponsor investment, money made from tickets, advertising through media, endorsements, sales at venues where major events are held and in more recent times the sport equipment consumers purchase as the fitness/wellness/healthy living lifestyles become more prominent. That in fact covers a wide cross-section of any population. 

In Jamaica for instance, the sporting areas most associated with any measure of success include football, cricket, track and field, netball and basketball – those attract the biggest crowds to date, hence considered major sport. If the franchise model is used, we should be able to calculate the investment made across the board in the five sporting areas in terms of 

  • national teams 
  • club and/or parish teams 
  • collegiate teams 
  • high school teams
  • other teams 

If these institutions keep accurate records, then it would not be difficult to ascertain the numbers and maybe, once and for all we may just be able to start offering better estimate of what the Jamaican sporting industry really does value. I have deliberately left out horseracing which can be addressed at some other point. Needless to say though its figures would surpass all the ones listed previously. 

International Trends 

Plunkett Research in the USA states that Sports are big business. Combined, the “Big 4” leagues in America, the National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Hockey League (NHL) and Major League Baseball (MLB), bring in about $23 billion in revenue during a typical year, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. U.S. sporting equipment sales at retail sporting goods stores are $42.6 billion yearly, according to U.S. government figures. A reasonable estimate of the total U.S. sports market would be $440 to $470 billion yearly. However, the sports industry is so complex, including ticket sales, licensed products, sports video games, collectibles, sporting goods, sports-related advertising, endorsement income, stadium naming fees and facilities income, that it’s difficult to put an all-encompassing figure on annual revenue. When researching numbers in the sports industry, be prepared for apparent contradictions. For example, the NFL receives vastly more money each year for TV and cable broadcast rights than MLB, despite the fact that MLB teams play about 10 times more games each year than NFL teams.

This contradiction though is supported by the power of a Brand – NFL has key star personalities that the MLB at this stage and even with more games the pull of the NFL is stronger. We reflect on the NBA as with the continued personality competition between Kevin Durrant and Lebron James – that is helping the NBA right now. Just reflect on when Michael Jordan retired and you will understand. The MLB in recent times has been riddled with way too much controversy i.e. Alex Rodriquez and his shenanigans have created ‘doubt’ in consumers’ minds – even though the games are still well supported, media has not been able to transfer the excitement of the game even through advertising. The MLB may best try to ‘find’ a personality to re-assert the league in a more positive way. 

The Jamaican sporting industry may lead the Caribbean in terms of what the perception is to the world and the personalities are more well known. Does the country though research its data to be able to inform its people of the opportunities that exist and how it can actually add to business and employment opportunities. The recommendations are: 

  • Tertiary level institutions should get more involved in research, development and innovation 
  • The already established officials should enhance their current base and widen scope by adding certification in related sport areas – management, science, marketing, legal 
  • Once and for all a proper stadium facility is needed 
  • Teachers’ College should have Physical Education in their curriculum to teach at the Primary level 

Jamaica’s advantage lie at the moment in the rich history of sport and the content is super-valuable. Its packaging is therefore key and with media outlets looking for unique content, maybe it is time that approach is taken. The platforms available for content are radio, television, mobile, games and big screens






A sport aficionado who writes, researches and presents on everything sport. A second book is out to prove her work's reach. She reads in her spare time.

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