Posted on

Business of sports


Tue May 13, 2014

Editor: This Caribbean region has a reserve of raw marketable sporting talent that, once harnessed, can reap tremendous economic and social benefits for individuals and communities. In St Vincent and the Grenadines, we have seen our fair share of sporting success with names such as Adonal Foyle and Sonia Young of international basketball fame, Pamenos Ballantyne on the Caribbean road, Natasha Mayers and Kineke Alexander in athletics and the indefatigable local squash champs, to name just a few. Our netball in golden years was premier and football performances have been similarly commendable in some seasons of yesteryear.{{more}}

However, there is no residue that the foregoers in sports administration, whether by infrastructure or policy or management at the national associations’ evel have been proactive in treating sports as a platform for economic rewards. Further, there is little empirical evidence that the current administrators of the different sporting disciplines or our policy makers are inclined to see sports as an added value component on our development quest.

In fact, there may also be little agitation in the public, even among our best players, for any serious overhaul of sports and its management, far more contentious, its regulation. We invariably see sports as a “sweat.” Under the small island Caribbean landscape, sports is just for leisure, a pastime of temporary pleasure and exercise without the urge for anything more proficient.

Contemporary sports men and women have the best gear, branded by the conglomerates and promoted by our sporting stars and heroes. Yet, our attitudes have been amiss on and off the field. As one combs through, year after year, the sporting pages of the newspapers, you are greeted with punctuated “war zones in associations” amidst relative success stories. The higher up you go, the more divisive and contentious the issues, oft born out of the smaller hegemonic personality atom. In other words, simple mastery of group dynamics has not been attained after all these years.

The larger nations in the Caribbean, particularly Jamaica, Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago have a sporting culture that permeates their societies and is considered a natural part of their development thrust. Their countries have benefited from the global spotlight, promoting tourism and an ancillary service industry in the process. Do we assume that our failure to perform is a mismatch in size and resources? The answer must be a resounding no, if we look at the Barbados model, St Kitts and Nevis and the emerging Grenada sporting program.

We must rise to the occasion of our times. So much has started elsewhere with only a vision planted in the hearts of followers. There is power in the moniker “Vincy Heat,” if it is adopted and promoted as the sporting tagline for Sports SVG. We should not always be the Jamaican-Vincentians or fill the ‘other’ category.

Ahead requires an approach more than the cognizance of the benefits of sports but an implementable agenda that is deadline specific. On the agenda remain initiatives such as the national stadium project, an indoor sports facility, a synthetic track among others. The free football pitch that this country passed up due to inexcusable bureaucratic overreaches should ne’er be repeated. National associations must get their houses in order to lead their charges. Teams and clubs must be better organized and show more passion for the sports other than simply a “just for fun, sweat” approach.

If only we can have a timetabled plan to professionalize at least one sport in the interim, then the business of sports in St Vincent and the Grenadines would be off to a valiant start.

Until then, do-so is more important than say-so!

Adaiah Providence-Culzac

Comments at [email protected]