KINGSTON, September 10 – Jamaica’s participation in world events has been ongoing for almost 70 years. The 1948 Summer Olympic Games in London is recorded as one of the first major events. What this signifies that the island has valued the work of sportsmen and women from way back then. Internationally an Olympic Gold medal epitomizes the highest achievement any athlete or team can get aside from the now more commercially viable trade of the highest paid athlete in your field. Back then the sport was done for glory to self, country and family and even school/institution…fast forward to now, it is now that and how much money can one make to earn and live a decent life.
The professionalism of sport has raised a number of issues and the sport that can attract the highest number of television viewers globally is determined as the “richest” sport in the world. We have also seen where the franchise system has been used effectively to show some level of equity among the professional athletes. Common to all sporting disciplines though is the amount of endorsements and salaries a “star” player/athlete can attract.
There are a number of estimates for the world sport industry’s value and the last one according to AT Kearney is 648 million US dollars. However, a KPMG study also shows that those figures will grow from between 11 – 15 per cent up to 20 years from now because of the demand of consumers. The point is, sport is BIG business.
The information exists globally and Jamaica recognizing the value of sport to its GDP need to determine how it will put systems in place to show how the sector can be developed into an industry.
Support for athletes in Jamaica
Jamaica’s ability to prepare athletes for international competition at the World Championship and Olympic levels is an indication of some seriousness about sport as an industry. The number of sporting disciplines are now over 40 and each constitutionally have management teams which are elected by a democratic process. The Ministry of Labour also has information which declares that the sector employs up to 28,000 and that accounts for its contribution to society. To indicate some of those in the sector are teachers, coaches, match officials, journalists, psychologists, trainers, nutritionists, sports scientists, educators. Those are just some categories for now. The professional athletes are now becoming a larger bunch within that sector. That to me is enough to constitute growth from a sector to an industry. The fact that sport can attract earnings from
Properties. The properties managed by rights owners are the intangible assets that draw fans and money. They include a wide range of parties, including leagues (Red Stripe Premier League) Netball Jamaica Super League; Teams (Harbour View Football Club, Racers and MVP) and athletes.
Rights management. Historically, monetization of properties was based on gate “take” (revenues) but now professional sports depend on media and marketing rights for more sources of revenues. Rights owners, or sports agencies acting on their behalf, not only structure the deals but also trade media and marketing rights.
Events. Effective rights management depends first on operating live events. An enjoyable experience for fans can create additional opportunities for revenue.
Content. The stadiums can only seat a certain number of fans, but packaging content for broadcasters’ and sponsors’ needs is a vital part of creating revenue in modern sports.
Structured around these four pillars, the sports value chain becomes a virtuous circle. Shaping a property can help increase its value through tailored rights management and content packaging can make it more attractive. For example, when cricket organizers created “Twenty20” cricket in 2003, shortening the typical game from several days to a few hours, they shaped a format better suited to live broadcasting.
Jamaica vs Global Trends
Jamaica has done consistently well in track and field globally. The medal tally has put the island in the top five nations of the over 200 countries that participate in those events. Jamaica’s ranking in football has been inconsistent falling in and out of the top 100. That is a recipe for not being able to attract significant sums of partnership for football and so the preparation of the national football team is always at risk. Why have I drawn those comparisons? Globally, football remains the sport with the biggest number of global viewers and is determined the richest sport in the world. FIFA despite its recent controversy has managed to keep football on top of its game. Forbes valued the 2010 World Cup in South Africa at US$147,000,000 – but attracted three million attendees. Forbes has also listed in a report published last year, that the among the top sporting brands are the Super Bowl, Summer Olympics, Major League Baseball and the UEFA Champions League. Importantly though the Olympics has the highest TV Revenue of a whopping 3.8 billion dollars.
Jamaica must aim to do well in the football programme to be able to negotiate better investment opportunities for its sport assets. While track and field, netball and even swimming based on medal tally and world ranking can be considered Jamaica’s top sporting disciplines, those sporting disciplines do not offer the best bargaining opportunities.
Institutionalizing a national sport policy has to be of great importance at this juncture as in a developing economy a government/policy leaders have to be able to determine how it facilitates the sectors which offer the best return on investment while showing credence to those sectors which offer greatest opportunities for its residence to do business and acquire wealth.
The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) in its Economic and Social Survey of Jamaica (ESSJ) has over the years cursorily indicated that the Sport sectors contributes up to three per cent to GDP. Those figures are limited to the system’s inability to collect figures from events, media and other areas of income. Those are some of the things that have to be improved to enable sport as an economic activity in the Jamaican context. The plan going forward must realise that
- Sport is a service sector
- Sport employs people
- Sport uses equipment and supplies of high value
- Sport can be tangibly presented as economic impact
- Sport is a sector that should be incentivised to attract public-private sector partnership
How to help athletes
As recommended in other spaces, I would like the following to happen less than a year before the #RoadToRio2016 and even while the 2018 World Cup Football campaign is on…
- Finalise negotiations for the health scheme with the athletes contributing
- Offer them access to nutrition services
- Upgrade existing training venues with better accessories for support
- Complete equipment inventory so the necessary shot term waivers can be applied
- Look at the academic curriculum in educational institutions to ensure the offerings are projected towards the expected changes in the business of sport
- Implement as much of the national sport policy as possible
- Rationalise existing agencies that has sport as a subject
Regionally there are some opportunities are available too and with the current population the Caribbean can benefit from shared services https://carolebeckford.wordpress.com/2015/08/28/elite-centre-concept-for-the-caribbean/
In 2012 I made this call http://carolebeckford.blogspot.com/2012/10/jamaica-needs-football-programme.html – that is still relevant today – #RoadToRussia2018
Jamaica’s efforts are commendable, but it presents an opportunity to be creative over the next five year cycle to seriously make sport an industry of choice for Jamaica.