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Sport can be very lucrative career

Sport can be very lucrative career

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The successes of the Vincentian Special Olympians at the recent Special Olympics World Games where, after a 10-year absence, the Vincentian team won four gold, 12 silver and six bronze medals, have been rightly and warmly welcomed by the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}}

They follow the brave performance of the consistent female athlete Kineke Alexander, who added a bronze medal at the Pan Am Games last month to her growing collection over the years. Kineke just barely missed out on another medal last weekend, finishing fourth in the 400 metres race at the North, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Games in Costa Rica.

These performances are further reminders of the role that sport can play in building national pride. But they also indicate that small size of country and limited resources may present challenges to achievement, but are not insurmountable barriers in themselves.

In today’s world, sport is not just for recreational purposes, sport can be a professional career and can be as rewarding financially as the accepted professions. In fact, in today’s world, the top professional performers earn more, far more, than their counterparts in engineering, medicine or other fields. Yet, many parents still do not understand or accept this and are reluctant to give full rein to the development of the sporting talents of their young ones, as they are wont to do with academic or scientific abilities. They should think again.

The leading athletes in today’s sporting world earn astronomical sums, more than fitting reward for their hard work, sacrifice and abilities. Success at the highest level pays huge financial dividends, as can be seen from annual statistics published by the prestigious FORBES magazine, which has gained an unmatched reputation for reporting on the world’s top earners in a wide range of fields.

Its 2015 report on top earnings for athletes shows that there were nine of them whose earnings for the past year surpassed US$50 million, not a bad sum for one year’s income. This includes both direct earnings from the field of activity, as well as the lucrative endorsements which come from commercial companies branding their products with athletes’ names so as to boost sales.

Not surprisingly, the two top earners were the protagonists in the richest-ever boxing match. Floyd Mayweather collected a cool US$285 million for defeating Manny Pacquaio to retain his world welterweight crown. This contributed significantly to the record US$300 million which Mayweather raked in, whilst Pacquaio’s total earnings were US$160 million, of which $148 million came from the fight.

Outside these ‘supersums,’ the top earners were, in this order, footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, US$79 million and his chief footballing rival Lionel Messi (US$73.8 million), veteran tennis champion Roger Federer (US$67 million), and the No 1 basketball star Lebron James, whose takings were just under US$65 million. Even golfer ‘Tiger’ Woods, who has so fallen off the top rankings that he only made US$600,000 on the golf courses, topped $50 million overall from his huge endorsements.

Tiger’s endorsements of $50 million were bettered only by those of Federer, US$58 million, with another golfer, Phil Mickleson ($48 million) and Lebron James ($44 million) just behind him. Interestingly, among female athletes, although black tennis superstar Serena Williams, considered in many quarters to be the best female player of all times, completely dominates women’s tennis, her white counterpart, Russia’s Maria Sharapova, earned almost twice in endorsements as Serena, $23 million to $13 million.

Cricketers generally do not rank with the top earners in other sports, given that sport’s limited market. However, it is no surprise that a star from cricket’s richest market, India, has made it to the list of the super-rich athletes. He is Indian captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, ranked No 23 on the rich list, with earnings of US$31 million, with endorsements accounting for $27 million.

Aspiring athletes in the Caribbean would do well to note how sport rewards Jamaica’s Usain Bolt for his phenomenal efforts. Bolt last year earned US$21 million, $14 million from endorsements.

Who says sport is not a rewarding profession?

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