An economic model for sport in Jamaica?

KINGSTON, March 22 – Jamaica’s sport industry really deserves better management; one which focuses on a commercial model which can turn the economic wheels and do what is required. Any industry/sector which has a good-working economic model can do a few things
• Provide employment
• Generate wealth for individuals and organisations
• Provide a glorious opportunity for exposure for goods and services
• Be a facilitator for the development of content worthy of international consumption
• If invested properly, be a source for infrastructure development

Historically, Jamaica’s sport prowess began in 1948 at the Summer Olympic Games in London and since then the world has watched us dominate in a variety of areas on and off the field. The most outstanding being in track and field, football (soccer), basketball, boxing, netball, cricket, swimming and to a lesser extent volleyball, hockey and badminton. David Weller’s medal in cycling at the 1980 Summer Olympics is a standout.
Not many countries Jamaica’s size has affected and impacted on the rest of the world, the way the island has and I would recommend that there must be a group of visionaries who could steer the sport industry in a way that the island’s economic woes start gliding up towards a massive success story.

The inspiration behind this article is how the Inter Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) continues to mishandle the Boys and Girls Championships in a way that borders on a misfortune. The fact that they are able to attract massive sponsorship from two or more of Jamaica’s organisations (LIME and Grace) is an indication of the value of the product. However the management of related events cannot be relegated to the 2.8 million in Jamaica and the additional figure in the Diaspora, but be imposed on an international audience which demands Jamaican content.

The exposure thus far would assume an exposure to 5.6 million, but that breakdown is accustomed to this product, what of the rest of the world. Events of the CHAMPS nature have so many money making components which can be explored, exploited and maximised to earn so much more money that it is time that those opportunities be explored.

Here are some areas of value
• Ticketing
• Media broadcast
• Merchandising
• Social media
• Satellite venues

Let’s focus on ticketing for a moment and consider, in addition to the National Stadium, three other locations across Jamaica. Events management units in Jamaica with the calibre of Main Events could replicate the vibe at Champs to attract a fair sized crowd, who would otherwise enjoy watching live broadcast of the event over the five days. The sponsors could benefit too from the showcase of products and services at said locations – getting value for money. Also with additional resources the broadcast house could capitalise on additional viewers by offering interactive also on locations. The technical equipment is available.

The NFL, NBA are franchises which make up to 20 per cent of their earnings from media broadcast according to A.T. Kearney which follows a particular model, I would suggest that can be fashioned to suit Jamaica. And in additional to ticketing could account to up to 40 per cent of the earnings. What those franchises have been able to do is creating an entertaining experience for fans. Satellite venues have been tried and proven successfully and maybe what Grace and LIME can consider for 2016 is to do road shows up to a month before CHAMPS to bring awareness to the communities close to where the satellite venues would be located. Those I
would suggest would be in town centres where there is a mass appeal. So many roads shows have taken place and I would have hoped the companies’ research units would have access to that information to support this idea/ideal.

The fact is, while there is a call for a new stadium, the CHAMPS event is one of a few events which maximises the venue’s use and not sufficient enough for that type of investment at the moment. I was a witness to satellite venues at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England in 2002, when as part of a touring group, we had mostly tickets to netball, but we were happy to learn we could watch other events from a park nearby. Big screens were retrofitted with a template for crawls and spot advertisements so no one lost.
Social Media reach is now of tremendous value and the reach (multiplier) effect can provide useful information as to where your audience is. The analytics tool is also worthy of investment. Imagine getting Chris Gayle, Usain Bolt and Cedella Marley to tweet each day about #Champs2015 – together they reach up to 7 million together based on follower numbers, but reach, mentions and retweets add up to at least fives the amount. A Social Media expert team should be considered to explore those options.

The merchandising opportunity is underutilised and while the top schools use CHAMPS as a way to reach their market; Jamaica’s brand is not figured here. In the Boys category the top three, Jamaica College, Kingston College and Calabar have clear lines to reach their markets, and I would imagine the co-ed schools e.g. St. Jago; however, it is ultimately Jamaica that is on show so the discerning fan would want to wear something Jamaican. I support the use of research to fine tune already available information to inform the ISSA group of these opportunities for a greater reach of this event called CHAMPS.

Jamaicans are quick to boast that it may be the biggest high school meet anywhere in the world and maybe it is, but that is a purely emotional declaration; because until we are able to clearly see the streams of income and the impact it has on earnings for a variety of people, then we are back to square one.

The ISSA model determines now that the Principals are in charge and that game has left them and an agency with the facility of an IMG can be formed here in Jamaica to manage an event of this kind and more. What that does too, is see the event from a totally different perspective with clear(er) objectives and outcomes. How the money is distributed can be managed by efficient and workable software. We got to start trusting each other to make the best decisions for everybody’s interest.

Also with all that money floating around, the top three schools in both categories should receive cash prizes to replenish the monies spent to prepare for the event. For me personally, CHAMPS is starting to look better from the TV screen and after 35 years of watching my first CHAMPS live, I am happy relaxing with a crew over drinks and food with the access to replay and more. But I know those fans who want to still watch it live. The event should be a positive experience either way.

From all indication, CHAMPS 2015 will be close and want to wish the schools and their teams, best wishes. March 24 -28 will be a remarkable set of days for Jamaica’s track and field and as the country prepares for Beijing in 2015 and Brazil in 2016, the future is indeed very promising.

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2 thoughts on “An economic model for sport in Jamaica?

  1. Michael Hyatt says:

    No mention of table tennis as a top sport when the sport has qualified players for the Olympics, dominated the Caribbean region for many decades and have players in the International world rankings? Not enough research done on this unfortunately!!!

    • carolebeckford says:

      I will also add that not all sport fit into an economic model, and even if you made the Olympics but cannot attract major sponsorship because it is a niche sport, it doesn’t figure. There are four distinct types of sport in the Jamaican context: 1. Sport for All 2. Network sport – those which can be on TV but with a small spectator base (Elite Sport) 3. Mass Sport/Core Sport – that will have a huge spectator base and will attract live audience no matter what and 4. Non-investment Sport – for widening opportunities. I want to clarify!

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