Between 2002 and 2017, Jamaica’s track and field was on top of the world. The athletes consistently won medals at every major international meet and built and secured a reputation as “world beaters” in the 100, 200, 100 meters hurdles, 400 meters hurdles, 110 meters hurdles, to name a few and later in that 15-year span, field events made their own mark.
In the absence of football being able to consistently perform at the top, Jamaica’s sport reputation and image was largely carried by track and field. Kudos to the other sporting disciplines which were able to send signals that they were also in the game.
Administratively on the international scene, Jamaicans were either appointed or kept their positions in senior and strategic roles in the IOC, Netball, Football, Volleyball, Badminton and Track and Field. Those roles are key in ensuring that Jamaica, as a developing nation, continue to receive capacity building on and off the field of play, while sitting at the table to influence or participate in decision-making at the global level.
The point of this article though is to impress on the JAAA, with just over a year to go for the World Championships in Qatar (September 28 – October 6) and the JOA, with the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo; put in place a comprehensive marketing and promotions plan which will serve to, most importantly, win new fans to the sport.
Outside of the die-hards that show up at a meet no matter what, the sport fan is becoming harder to please and what that means is some research and subsequent implementation of a plan could be what turns the support for our track and field athletes in the short to medium terms.
You may ask why research? The simple answer is the governing body would know
• Who is consuming the sport
• What they like about the sport or what they do not like
• What are the things that could change to make the sporting event more favorable to fans?
• Who are the athletes that can help to generate support from fans (more access to the athletes)?
Track and Field is ahead of most sport as internationally, the athletes are winning and that is a plus. That momentum therefore has to be built so by the time we get around to the World Championships, we will all be aware of:
• Who the athletes are
• What events the athletes compete in?
• How we can support their dreams with the support of fans
The individual nature of track and field may pose some challenge, but a meeting with the managers and agents could plant that initial seed and then get the athletes’ buy-in.