Jamaica: Stay in the Game

Jamaica’s records on and off the field can stand any test globally. In 70 years, theisland would have compiled some of the world’s best. That is an accomplishment no one can challenge successfully.

That said, the global sporting industry has grown exponentially and Jamaica’sname, though still pretty much, favored, must ensure its competitiveness is secure.

How will that happen? There are specific areas of interest in the blend of the sport and business mix that must be prioritized to facilitate the improvement and earnings over the next decade. In that context I am offering some suggestions:

  1. Revive the National Sports Council – one that oversees the rationalized Sporting bodies
  2. Focuson
    1. Planning
    1. Technical Development
    1. Marketing of the destination as an international sport venue
    1. Hosting events that are
      1. Commercially viable
      1. Has global (targeted market) reach
    1. Influence curricula in schools and universities that are geared to look at management and administration of the industry
    1. Technological tools aimed at disseminating content on sport for the new-age consumer

The recent appointment of the boards that govern sport in Jamaica highlights gaps and I am hoping at some point we will have access to folks who can offer advice on these areas that add value for the full benefit to the nation.

The National Sport Policy identifies so many of the key areas I have mentioned, and while we should congratulate policy leaders on their work so far on insurance, upgrade of some facilities; the investment should be made to build the capacity of an industry that can generate a significant portion of wealth for athletes, administrators, supportpersonnel; while shining an abundance of positive news about the island.

I am therefore suggesting to the powers that be, that over the December break a thorough look be taken on these things

  • What national teams (sporting disciplines) will we seek to send to any international events between 2019 and 2023
  • How will funding goals be achieved and the implementation of the financial models for its success
  • Spend time to have discussions with institutions that know (conferences, workshops, seminars)
  • Revert to the quarterly meetings with national sporting bodies

There are alot of things that work in our favor and a few that don’t. Let us sit and talk this through. Put all feelings aside and show how when teams get on the court/field to play we play to win, and we go home… until we have practice/games. That is how a successful team works.

Let’s STAY the GAME… for Jamaica. 

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BRING BACK JAMAICA SPORT

ON A COUCH SOMEWHERE – Back in 2012 there was a group called Sport Tourism Implementation Committee (STIC) and in 2014, there was Jamaica Sport. What was important, even with the name change, the group was assembled to provide the framework to sustainably develop sports tourism as well as leverage local and international sports events to increase visitor arrivals to the island.

National StadiumThe group was chaired by Chris Dehring with a mix of public and private sector sport officials to include skill sets of content development, planning, marketing, operations, venue development, legal to name a few. The combined years of experience could be compared to any other global sporting body and could possibly outscore given the resources, which were available at the time.

Here is a release from the Ministry of Tourism http://www.mot.gov.jm/news-releases/new-‘jamaica-sport’-entity-launched-develop-sports-tourism-locally

Jamaica sport logo

During the tenure, we worked closer with the Jamaica Tourist Board, the agency with responsibility to market Jamaica’s Brand and made considerable leap into hosting events which at the time satisfied steadily, the mandate set:

  • Growing sport in communities
  • Employing and/or using sport officials to manage events
  • Attracting tourists to Jamaica (heads to beds)
  • Considerable media attention
  • Strengthening and deepening Jamaica’s position in the Sport Tourism market

In 2015, with the limitations we had on the immigration form, the JTB was able to capture this information

Jamaica Sport

The point here is, there was tremendous potential. It was also indicated that Sport Tourists have considerable higher spend per day and will return for a vacation after. Those trends have been reported globally, so we were on to something.

Jamaica’s rich sporting history was not to be put aside, as with the consistent excellent performances at international competitions (Summer and Winter Olympics, World Championships, Major League Soccer,) there was a steady build up of the curious and discerning tourist. What was also trending, if only for a specific time, was film crews from all over who would visit to film documentaries, photo shoots, commercials and to attend CHAMPS.

The Jamaica Tourist Board has the records of the events. While the major sporting disciplines were part of the mix, the team offered some insight on what happens when targeted and network sport like Karate, Beach Volleyball, Surfing and Badminton were supported. See excerpt of a report below:

Since November 2014, an investment of US$258,000 was made toward sporting events including: CONCACAF, Netball, Badminton, Track & Field (JIIM), ITF Tennis, Beach Volley, Cricket (CPL & WI v. AUS), Masters Football, Surfing, Golf, Endurance Running, Regional Swimming, and UANA Water Polo Championships.  This generated over 20,000 room nights (4,000 heads to beds) with an overall economic impact of approximately US$6M.

Fast forward to 2016 when Jamaica Sport was dissolved (without warning), we are still struggling to find a strong hold on how to market Jamaica as sport tourist destination.

As Dalton Myers suggested in this column, “maybe we not really ready” (I paraphrased); maybe we need to stop pretending that there is interest. I can’t help but think this is an opportunity missed (again).  Click here to read http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/sports/20180915/dalton-myers-we-are-not-ready-major-sporting-events

An outlook for opportunities could include events related to:

  • CHAMPS 2019 – March 26 – 30 – Kingston
  • World Championship 2019 (track and field)
  • Summer Olympic Games 2020
  • FIFA World Cup 2022

And here’s a reminder of why sport tourists visit a destination – to be active on and off the field/court or for nostalgia. Either way, Jamaica offers both. Let’s get this show on the road. #OneLove.

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Sport and Entertainment Agents

Sport and Entertainment are two of the biggest industries globally. There are several papers and research that will show that those two industries will grow “no matter what” even in an economic recession. There are tons of figures presented by:

·        PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC)

·        International Trade Center

·        Departments of Commerce (in top commercial centers)

 Wanted to offer that background, as with the growth of the sectors, there is room for more experts and so employment will tend to increase.

handshake-man-and-woman

Today, I want to focus on the role of an agent. The definition of an agent for the purpose of this article is “one who helps to build careers.” The most basic of an agent’s role is to handle athlete/artiste, franchises/professional teams and event promoters where applicable.

Here are some other roles:

·        Setting of goals for the athlete/artiste after sitting down with them for a detailed discussion

·        Part of a team which negotiates endorsement deals

·        Part of a team which handles public image

·        Part of a team that recommends charities and/or foundation

·        Part of a team that looks at options for retirement

That agent therefore is required to know a few things or at least have some basic training. The training can be at undergraduate level in business, law, sport management. The agent should be able to bring something to the table.

I can translate that in a simpler way to explain that an agent should: 

·        Know other influencers in the specific industry

·        Be able to make connections to grow the status of the athlete/artiste

·        Be able to get on lists that are relevant to the development of the athlete/artiste

·        Attend events where networking is available to ensure your client is represented in the best way possible

·        Get in doors, offices, boardrooms that would be otherwise unavailable

The point is, an agent is the direct link between the earnings and how an athlete/artiste is viewed by the public. The athlete/artiste must therefore choose wisely, as essentially, the business of sport and entertainment lies in the agent’s hands. Lots of opportunities for agents and lots of places to learn the business – Get in the Game for those who want to make a go at it and for those already in it – keep relevant by always learning. There are tons of conferences and workshops to attend too numerous to mention. DollarSign

Here are five professional sporting organizations you should consider for those of you interested in that industry https://www.bestcollegereviews.org/lists/five-professional-organizations-in-sports-management-to-consider-joining/

For entertainment, here are two I would recommend http://www.agents-uk.com/ or http://www.besla.org/

 “Show me the money.”  #OneLove

Sport in Jamaica deserves better…

Sunday, November 5 – Next year, Jamaica’s name would have been in world sporting news consistently for 70 years. Since the 1948 Summer Olympic Games the country’s athletes have maintained steady and improved global ranking in several disciplines and at times even beating the world. The athletes and administrators deserve all the praise.

The country’s brand positioning has been significantly enhanced by the global appeal of its athletes and as we close in on 2017, there is so much more to look forward to.

Jamaica boasts a solid high school sport program. The governing body for school sport, Inter Secondary School Sports Association (ISSA) has managed over several sporting disciplines out of which a significant portion of the country’s stars used as a platform to grow. Over the years, institutions, clubs and other privately run teams have managed to heighten the county’s solid achievements by forming and maintaining programs for the post-high-school era enabling the athletes not to be over dependent on international preparation. That continues.

What has not happened as consistently is the role of the policy leaders in their ability to facilitate the continued development, by putting in policies to encourage steady/continued growth in the sport sector. The institutions still struggle to find solid footing in creating a more sustainable path towards wealth creation, better facilities, a wider range of service providers which will ultimately earn the island more medals at the global level.

The suggestion that the island is poor is an excuse in my opinion. So much research has been done to show the benefits of sport and how it can change a country’s economic activities if organized, managed and facilitated in a way to bring great return on investment.

This process must look at a path which looks at the link along the lines of education, training, development, research, marketing and how those key areas can earn the most bucks; while doing that should address social inclusion for balance.

Sport in Jamaica deserves better. Better is available. Again, it is time the folks who know better can make that change.

Modernizing Sport in Jamaica

July 1 – With the guard changing on and off the field of play for athletes and administrators in Jamaica; there is a glorious now opportunity to modernize and look at new and innovative ways to manage sport in Jamaica.

Also, maybe it is time we look away from volunteerism at some levels and pay those with the expertise to run sport in a way that is professional. What is expected from sport in terms of results is not sustainable if at all levels, experts aren’t paid for their services.

That said, the industry now has to place sharp focus on prioritizing its assets and point itself towards achieving the best return on investment and by extension, while meeting the other aims of:

  • creating the best environment for athletes to perform at a maximum
  • consolidating the technical expertise to ensure all athletes benefit from the best
  • focus on care – pre, during and post
  • partnerships that will offer the athletes income that is on par with what is happening globally
  • partnering with academic institutions to provide the research necessary to prepare for the next generation
  • providing and upgrading facilities for athletes
  • fan engagement for events
  • being considered a more serious seat at the table of the Tourism product.

We are way ahead of just the feel good moments which we get when our teams/athletes win; but those of us in the know should look at the more knowledge-based approach to offer solutions for the athletes, management and eventually the country to benefit from earnings from events; an industry that employs people and one that also balances people’s lives.

We cannot be satisfied with what we have now. When we look at what athletes, brands and media rights contribute to an overall pot, it must be disheartening to see that as an island, Jamaica has the talent, technical expertise and business expertise to have a sporting industry that is making a greater contribution to its GDP.

We all know the sport we should do well at to attract the big bucks, but as it is a diverse sector, we depend on those that is of great networking value, attracts the biggest crowds, has the greatest social appeal; we therefore should combine these for a successful model.

As the organizations meet in the upcoming months, a Think Tank must be a priority to look at a strategic plan for the next five to ten years for sport. My only request, is leave the politicians out of the mix. Following the strategic plan completion, we then put the cards on the table; show them the figures and negotiate waivers, support and legislation which will help to grow the industry.

Let’s Stay in the Game!

On becoming a professional athlete

September 25 – With more money being pumped into professional sport globally, there are more athletes who are intent on becoming pros. But there are some basic pointers those athletes need to follow. Here are some:

  1. Get involved at a fairly young age
  2. Train smartly with someone who has your best interest
  3. Dedicate yourself to a sustained programme with clear goals
  4. Keep your body in great shape
    1. Eat right, if you can afford it, employ a nutritionist
  5. Pursue education, it will help later on
    1. You may even apply for a scholarship
  6. Join a club that promotes your sport

There are some other basics (health-wise) that you will need to check regularly

  • Eyesight and hearing
  • Reflexes
  • Heart condition
  • Dental

Additionally, as you head towards the pro-game, secure some skills sets around you, which are necessary for you and your management team to be successful

  • Legal
    • Intellectual property
    • Image rights
    • Copyright
  • Financial and Auditing (compliance)
  • Planning and Budgeting
  • Marketing and Communications
  • Branding
  • Commercial
  • Stylist/Lifestyle coach
  • Management – events, photo shoots, courtesy calls

Finally, be willing to compete hard and smart at all times; be disciplined and have your passport ready to travel.

 

This is really a snapchat of a professional’s athlete’s life, until next time…stay in the game.

Jamaica -transforming creative to lucrative

Tuesday, August 30 – As always following any major sporting or entertainment event where Jamaica is represented there is talk of who, what, where, when, why and how. I got into a bit of struggle with contending views on how the country can embrace the current overflow of skills sets in those two major sectors (creative industries) and help to make it a more meaningful effort for all of us and by extension convert to wealth/income.

The post read: 

You know what the athletes and artistes would be happy with:
1. Proper training facilities
2. Pre, during and post care – health, other medical and policy to guide post life
3. Access to markets to maximise their earnings
4. Access to academic discourse to assess their experience
5. Boardroom access
6. Financial management and planning
For a country that has so much contributing to sport and entertainment we are obligated to putting those in place. The rest will come.

We are always in a dilemma about how we celebrate our athletes and artistes. There is even a question about who is an icon versus who is a legend? And by extension, does any of them deserve “national hero” status. While I acknowledge the impact our elite stars make, the continuation of an environment conducive to producing more is more my concern.

Up to December 2015, it is reported that the global creative industries with a two trillion earning represents 3 per cent of the world’s GDP and City Lab explains here http://www.citylab.com/work/2015/12/the-global-creative-economy-is-big-business/422013/

The role an economy like Jamaica plays in identifying what it’s good at and then to convert that to wealth creation for its people, becomes a monumental task especially for a people steeped in tradition. The people – a significant portion is still about the country producing experts in medicine, legal and even divinity related works. I say those are necessary. However in a global economy where a “good time” is being demanded more and more, sport and entertainment’s value are of greater importance.

sports-marketing-10-728

The chart above essentially explains the model and if we have a market willing to consume not just products and services along with the Jamaican experience, then what is the issue. The marketing studies have been done. So too the feasibility studies and whether it is the influence of our former political leaders, current athletes and entertainers, it is high time we convert. We need the plan and we need to see this through.

Jamaica needs to do something about it and do it now. It is time we change the game.

Coaching in 2016 and beyond

May 29 – Elite athletes should have access to the best technical expertise available.  

“Coaching is the universal language of change and learning.”

Coaching1

One of the missions of any sporting organisation must be to prepare its coaches to be the best. And while it is doing that ensure that the sport also has access to its best athletes. That relationship, if well organised is the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship for the specific sport to maximise its economic activity.

The history of coaching does not meet the traditional skill set where the roles of purpose, knowledge base, organisation and ethics are clearly outlined; however, over the last two decades there has been an increase in who we classify as “elite coaches” – those who are considered as being the best; transforms the best and gets the best out of any category of athlete.

Sport more than ever now plays a significant role in income generation and a well-coached   fully focused winning team provide entertainment to spectators, communities, sponsors, athletes, coaches and administrators.

Coaching has therefore moved from the largely volunteer role it had been to the more sophisticated and competitive profession where institutions and organisations go after the “best” coaches for a multiplicity of reasons.

Coaching2

The National Basketball Association (NBA), National Football League (NFL) and the English Premier League (EPL) are three organisations which move around coaches based on a projected number of wins within a season or a contract term. These organisations essentially work with the saying “you are as good as your last win.”

I reflect on the roles of Don Nelson and Phil Jackson two NBA coaches were both successful as players and coaches. Both have philosophies they have used to their advantage. Nelson masterminded the concept of a power forward, while Jackson perfected the triangle offense; but also his use of Zen techniques to assemble some of USA’s best basketballers while getting them to win. I look at football in the EPL and Alex Ferguson’s record speaks for itself.

Today, an elite coach is not who is simply technically strong, but instead one who designs and uses philosophies to achieve the ultimate gain of converting his/her team to win over a sustained period.

The training of coaches is available at several levels

  • Teacher-training institutions
  • Sport Colleges and Universities
  • Olympic Federations through the IOC’s programmes
    • Other sporting Federations have accredited levels of courses which are applicable for its different categories of athletes
  • Other supplementary short courses are available on several platforms

Standards have been and continue to be set and more and more sporting franchises and organisations go after the most qualified. The coaching situation has evolved.

The profession, coaching, has to first of all look at reinforcing education, deployment of those resources while regulating rules to engage the wide variety of skills on offer, but the ultimate is to get a winning formula of winning team and coach.

Coaching along age-group teams moves from getting players/athletes to enjoy their game (children) and to compete fiercely for titles and in recent years attract a substantial salary package. Sport also influences social and cultural boundaries and the value of those factors, while immeasurable, have an important place in the sporting model of any organisation.

The European Coaching Council in 2007 proposed a paper which suggested that coaching roles and qualifications be separated, but cited the need to map what is considered competencies for specific coaching roles. The coaching role is defined whether you are one of the following:

  • Apprentice coach
  • Coach
  • Senior Coach
  • Master Coach

Some regions including USA, Europe, Australia have established professional associations for coaching ensuring the profession is fiercely protected and where only members of the profession can practice. Some sporting federations have a similar model where coaches have to achieve a certain level of qualification and accreditation to coach at a particular level.

In the coaching environment these days there is a variety of qualifications, accreditation and opportunities for coaches at every level to gain the requisite training and exposure to make it to the top. These days you are either a pre-coach, volunteer coach or a professional coach. Coaching like so many other professions, have become competitive and attracts good pay packages. It is therefore important that organisations prepare its technical teams to get the best out of its athletes/players.

Caribbean Sport Business…or not?

 

April 9 – The history of sport suggests it was built purely for entertainment. In the development of modern sport regardless of where it came from, the Industrial Revolution and mass production brought increased leisure which offered an opportunity for people to have more time to engage in playing or watching, and later gambling on spectator sports. These phenomena somewhat helped to allow less elitism in and offered greater accessibility of sports of many kinds. Mass media and global communication + professionalism then became prevalent in sports, and this pushed the envelope making sport one of the biggest industries today.

TBOS logo Small

Former British Prime Minister, John Major said in 1995 – We invented the majority of the world’s great sports…19th century Britain was the cradle of a leisure revolution every bit as significant as the agricultural and industrial revolutions we launched in the century before. Cricket, being a popular sport in Britain, had its own evolution – and when John Leach write in 2005 he explained that political, social and economic conditions in the aftermath of the Restoration (1660) encouraged excessive gambling, so much so that a Gambling Act was deemed necessary in 1664. He went to suggest that cricket, horse racing and boxing (i.e., prize fighting) were financed by gambling interests. Leach explained that it was the habit of cricket patrons, all of whom were gamblers, to form strong teams through the 18th century to represent their interests.

The rise of professional sport worldwide though created what was thought at the time to be a balance between work and leisure and while sport was largely seen as entertainment, there were more and more opportunities being created for athletes to earn significant sums of money from a routine which made them fit, competitive and in some cases, depending on the sport, strong.

ProSports

The path along which sport’s history has coincided with wars and other important social development, still contend that professional sport goes against what is considered the ethos of sport, that is, pure enjoyment rather than earning a living from sport. That debate will never end. However, in 2016 and beyond, even though amateur athletes outnumber professional athletes, far more are earning a living from sport.

With salaries for sure, there will be disputes and the incredible mix of athlete, agent, manager, publicist, sponsor, endorsements provide and create a conundrum for those who want to benefit and those who contribute to the beneficiaries. Also how could I not add the mix of media rights and now the latest social media. A simple example is – if you can rack up millions of followers on any of the platforms, an athlete’s value can be enhanced tremendously even with basic representation in the sport on the field of play.

The world’s 100 best/highest paid athletes cumulatively banked $3.2 billion over the last 12 months according to Forbes http://www.forbes.com/athletes/list/#tab:overall

Among the biggest sport contract now on the table is a US$325 million 13-year contract for Miami Marlins’, Giancarlo Stanton, which makes him earn an average of US$154,000 per game.

I want to talk about pay disputes and professional sport and list a few things that are common worldwide and in going forward how the Caribbean, specifically Cricket, can benefit from this process. Labour relations models for sport exist popularly in US Sport but there are several things we can learn. Salary caps, limiting to how much athletes can be paid, form one part of the puzzle and the Franchise system which has been implemented for West Indies Cricket can facilitate that for starters. The truth is, the Caribbean countries may have little resources to invest, however, if each country makes significant investment in the sport sector, athletes will be able to exist in a more enabling environment.

Salary caps determine an interesting rivalry between owners, in this case, WICB and WIPA and the players and sets a tone for the emergence of free agency, which is this case, the players who are not retained whether in the elite list of 15; the 90 first class players or the 11 women. As the formula is now, the lion share of the available funds say that the 15 elite players earn 57 per cent of the overall earnings of WI Cricket’s pot and the reaming 43 per cent is shared among the rest (101 players including 11 women).

The collective bargaining agreement process is also another way and the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) has made attempts to get this right… in spite of the differences that players feel not enough is being done, the methodology to get to the most suitable place is being sought. Sharing revenues and power is quite an irony, as there isn’t one without the other. Players know that and so their role is to get as much as is available. At some point though the value of the purse has to be declared and that sharing has to be based on that figure. WIPA and the WICB have exposed its figures and so the current set up, which has seen adjustments and increases in instances is what currently entails. See details of how WIPA has shown the categories of earnings for cricketers in the region http://jamaica-star.com/article/sports/20160215/here-are-numbers-hinds-responds-sammy-outlines-payment-packages

Some sporting discipline use the salary cap methodology, while baseball for example uses what is called a payroll tax, which taxes salaries over an agreed amount. The enforcement of salary caps may be a good method of control in a market where the investment in sport through endorsements is high. Sport today is largely affected by market conditions, such as media broadcast rights, ticketing/attendance, subscriptions, deals with venues, hospitality suite rentals, social media hits for exposure among a few other variables.

PayDispute

Owners may and will have to determine how to re-engage players/athletes so both benefit one way or another. There is an important role for corporate and public sector to agree on a few things to make this model work in the Caribbean and if this region, which boasts one of the highest numbers of elite athletes per capita can’t see the opportunity for sport as a sector to flourish, then we are much further behind than we really think. The rich legacy of sport in the Caribbean must be protected and enhanced. Sport, is not only big business, but it is a career choice for many and should be welcomed. However, it is important to use existing models – combine them and see what works best for us. Here’s to better Physical Education programmes in the schools, more investment from Governments and their subsidiaries, sustainable incorporation of high performance programmes, well-paid athletes and a Caribbean Sport industry we can all be proud of.

Carole has 29 years of experience in journalism in several subject areas, but suggests her work in sport administration, management and publishing are her greatest achievements.

The Caribbean’s lost decade(s) in sport

April 9 – When one thinks of a list professional athletes from the Caribbean, Jamaican, Lindy Delapenha comes to mind as one of the pioneers. It has been widely reported that he was the first Jamaican ever to play professional football in the UK. He served in the British army and played football where he was identified and got a trial first with Arsenal. He never did play for them, but instead, played for Portsmouth in 1948 where he won a championship medal. Two years later he transferred to Middlesbrough where his career took off and he was the leading goal scorer for three seasons from the 1951 to 1956 period. In total he appeared in 270 games where he scored 93 league and FA Cup goals. He moved back to Jamaica thereafter and pursued a career in broadcasting – but continued his sojourn in sport where he played cricket and football.

Lindy

Another Jamaican, Allan Cole played professional football between 1968 and 1972 for Atlanta Chiefs and Nautico in Brazil. Reports show that he scored three goals on those two missions.

Allan-skill-cole-

The 70s produced a longer list which was filled up with mostly cricketers at the time and in 1977 there was the World Series Cricket, which at the time was a break away (outfit) professional cricket competition organised by an Australian, Kerry Packer. He owned then, a television station called Nine Network. The matches organised, competed directly with international cricket and had a distinct influence on the nature of the game, still permeating the sport today. The Packer Series as it was popularly called then was successful because players thought they were not paid enough and Packer provided those opportunities. He wrestled with the Australian Broadcasting Association (ABC) for exclusive rights of the regular cricket and Packer not getting his wish started his own series.

Secret agreements at the time were signed with three leading captains, West Indies – Clive Lloyd; Australia – Greg Chappell and England – Tony Greig. The series also included top players from Pakistan and South Africa. The Packer story in another form has continued to disrupt the ICC’s hold on cricket which has kept them on their toes. The West Indies remained an active participant. Packer also had his eyes on the rugby league but his attempt at that failed. News came out that a book by former player agent, Ricky Nixon offers details on how Packer operated http://www.theage.com.au/afl/afl-news/kerry-packer-considered-a-rebel-afl-league-book-claims-20160407-go0txz.html

Allen Stanford was next and he “used” the West Indies as a place to go up against the more formal systems of the International Cricket Council (ICC). It is important to note, that India, where the T20 format of the game now thrives, had vowed some years ago, never to play this version. How times have changed. Here cricket expert writer, Tim Wigmore gives his account of how the World T20 was formed http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/971333.html

Since those heady years from 1977 to now, the Caribbean has had its own fair share of professional athletes in other sporting disciplines, from football, basketball, track and field, horseracing, boxing and in recent times a few women have gotten contracts to play netball in the Pacific.

How then has this economically-vulnerable region capitalized on the Business of Sport? Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica have pretty much lead the way with the number of pro-athletes across the board. FIFA World Cup Qualification, performances in World Championships in Athletics, the NBA, the NFL have all had decent representation from a wide range of Caribbean athletes. The value of those athletes along with cricket rack up a considerable sum and so far this year we as a region have not figured out a workable formula to estimate the value of sport to the Caribbean economy.

Jamaica in a publication by its Planning Institute, Economic and Social Survey, indicates that Sport as a sector, contributes up to 3 per cent to its gross domestic product. Those figures are conservatively measured by major events, visitor spend and to some extent earnings of the athletes. That in itself is limited. You can visit the PIOJ’s website at www.pioj.gov.jm

That is a programme I would wish to see taken on by an institution like the Mona School of Business, a UWI subsidiary, similar to that of the University of Pennsylvania’s – The Wharton School – use its research efforts to track non-traditional contributors to an economy. The release of that information highlighting trends and forecasts should help to guide/influence government and private sector should be mandated, as it is key in determining how some related decisions are made. In developing the variables to be measured, like that of the international global sport index, there has to be room for that process to take place, and now.

From the perspective of the Business of Sport, a question to ask, Was the 2000 – 2009 decade, the lost decade for the Caribbean Sport Economy? We have ten refurbished or new cricket venues which were built in time for 2007 for the Cricket World Cup. Trinidad and Tobago also built and refurbished facilities to host the Under 17 World Cup. While that was going on Trinidad and Tobago qualified for the final round of the FIFA World Cup in 2006, but exited at the group stage without winning a game, and Jamaica back in 1998.

It was only later in the decade in 2009 in Berlin, after the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, that Usain Bolt excited the world with 9.58 and 19.19 seconds in the 100 and 200 metres respectively and track and field, with far less valued endorsements, gained traction in the global sport market for the region. The irony is – in spite of a significant dent in the hearts and minds of people, the global dollar value of track and field doesn’t quite measure up to its competitors in football, basketball or cricket.

Already half way through this decade, where is the region’s focus on sport as a sector to even energise private sector to invest more and for governments to facilitate sustained development in this obviously growing industry.

Some questions to be answered:

  1. How many tourists have come to the region because of sporting events?
  2. How have the existing venues been used for hosting of major events?
  3. Which organisation in the Caribbean is tracking those earnings and analysing them for use to promote or even to focus, re-focus our attention on what is in the best interest for the region?
  4. How have our academic institutions used the performances of the region’s athletes in the last 20 years to project and forecast for 20 years to come?
  5. Which Caribbean institution is most able to lead the charge in determining the way forward for sport business in the Caribbean?
  6. Who is preparing the Business of Sport model for the Caribbean? And who is ready to support?

The exposure to the region whether assumed or not has been incredible and somehow the conversion has not taken place. The efforts by a failed single market economy programme, free movement as per the Treaty of Chaguaramus among other Caribbean-led initiatives have been thwarted by bureaucratic bundling by governments failing to acknowledge the role sport can play in economic activity.

In spite of pointing fingers toward West Indies Cricket, as a sporting body  which has been responsible for the highest circulation of funds in the region, at least for the last five years; and instead of building on that model, there are efforts to dismantle.

The results of the last three major world championships for the under 19, women and men show a win for the West Indies. We have defeated three countries with far more resources alone and cumulatively. The countries are India, Australia and England. That must account for something. Incidentally England was beaten twice.

I therefore suggest we seek to develop the strategies needed to push the Caribbean sport industry forward by first of all recognizing it officially and place well-needed resources to fuel the growth that is obvious.

Once again the Summer Olympic Games will happen and governments will scurry to talk about legacy programmes. What really should happen is UWI, CARICOM, Caribbean Export and each member country choose its best sporting minds and gather by October 2016 to chart a path forward.

When I started this article, I had intended to focus on a lost decade – 2000 to 2009; but here we are in 2016 with three years for this decade, and I wonder.

Let’s get in the game.

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