KINGSTON, October 10 – Quite the contrary, Sport is not just fun and games. It is so much more. It is actually BIG business. Since Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz qualified for France in 1998 I think there began a realization among the sport power brokers in Jamaica that there are major business opportunities in sport. Football at the time is and remains the number one sport in the world. That measurement is the television audience which is growing closer to 4 billion. The recent World Cup Football 2014 held in Brazil saw world record figures.
Take for example, the match between the USA and Ghana was watched by 11.1 million on ESPN in the United States, setting a new record for ESPN coverage of a men’s FIFA World Cup match. Another highlight is 42.9 million watched Brazil and Croatia on Brazilian channel TV Globo, the highest sports broadcast of 2014. You can read the full article here http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/news/y=2014/m=6/news=tv-viewing-breaks-records-in-first-fifa-world-cup-matches-2378078.html
Read this report if you have the time too and you will see that WC 2014 was a watershed moment for football (soccer) in the USA as the viewership was more than the 2014 NBA final and the 2013 Major League Baseball series http://www.fifa.com/mm/document/tournament/competition/02/44/29/89/fifaworldcupinnumbers_120714_v7_eng_neutral.pdf – that is a major accomplishment.
Amidst all the recent FIFA issues with its leadership and the calls from sponsors and other supporters for its President, Sepp Blatter to step away; the sport is enjoying its highest level of visibility ever. Here is another bit of information confirming the sport’s popularity http://sports-facts.top5.com/the-worlds-top-5-most-watched-sporting-events/?page=2
How can Jamaica benefit?
Saw a feature by Andrew C Edwards recently talking about developing the Jamaican footballer. Here is the link to the article http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/sport/Lessons-from-afar-as-we-aim-to-develop-the-total-Jamaican-footballer_19232628 – “One of the key points he made though, was Our players must demonstrate an insatiable appetite for winning; they must demonstrate a desire to win at all times regardless of circumstance. For all intents and purposes, winning is not only measured by results, or at least not by immediate results when dealing with young players. Learning to play the game “properly” is an important seed for the fruit of future winnings.”
I also wrote some months ago that Jamaica needs the football programme http://carolebeckford.blogspot.com/2012/10/jamaica-needs-football-programme.html – the point of the article was to highlight that Jamaica being able to maintain stability – The administration of the JFF has to then focus on accountability, transparency and must engage the newest forms of management expertise available, using technology to enhance its message. The support services for the sport have to be managed using the tertiary level institutions allowing for young players to move on to collegiate football to gain valuable experience on and off the field. The number of coaches, officials must increase, but offer quality and impartial service all aimed at growing the sport. Jamaica has to go back to the day where the natural progression from primary to college football is seen as the way to enter the national programme, developing the Jamaican Brand of Football. The island currently boasts the fastest men and women in the world. What of football? Isn’t it high time the Jamaican football brand is known and established into the minds of people firstly in Jamaica and also to the rest of the world.
Although the country has a number of sporting disciplines which can attract certain levels of financial investment, I believe that without a stable football programme – the sport assets of Jamaica are at risk.
Let’s play ball!