The story in the Gleaner, on January 6th, 2010, regarding the possible cancellation of the Annual Gibson Relays is sad. While track and field would surely be affected, it speaks pointedly to the overall management of sport in our country.
Let me tell you some facts
- Sport employs up to 27,000 people
- Sport as a sector contributes up to 2.4 per cent of GDP
- Jamaica has international recognition in at least 10 disciplines, which outweigh any advertising campaign could pay for
- Jamaica has been competing at the highest level since 1948
- Jamaican athletes are the most sought after (Bolt, Powell, Campbell Brown, Gardener, Fuller, Forbes, Aiken…to name a few)
- Jamaica as a destination produces world class athletes and is attracting other athletes to train in the island
- The athletes are the face of significant amount of media campaigns
- Global trends suggest that sport will grow amidst a recession
- …and by the way athletes pay their taxes too (much more than some of our manufacturers)
My point therefore is, why is the Sport Sector treated with such disdain? Why isn’t there a policy which serves a blue print for growth and development like all other sectors?
I could get passionate here, but I won’t. Someone has to respond to the needs of the industry based on these facts.
The Catherine Hall Sport Complex in Montego Bay has an Olympic track with seating facilities and could host the Gibson Relays, but the CONCACAF football under 17 tourney will be there from February 14 with a final match up set for February 27. Can something be arranged? With lots of hotel rooms that side, that could work.
2011 – World Championship year
2012 – Summer Olympic Games
2013 – World Championship (again)
…with the perceived weakness in relays our top relay festival is at risk. What/Who gives?
About the Author:
Carole Beckford is a journalist with over 22 years experience. She is also an author and a lecturer in Sport Journalism and Sport Management. She is currently the publicist for Usain Bolt and she blogs at carolebeckford.blogspot.com