The power of sports
St Vincent and the Grenadines got multi-million dollars worth of free advertising last week, when the National Football League (NFL) of the United States of America, staged its 2019 draft.
The advertisement was via the selection of Vincentian N’ Keal Harry to the New England Patriots.
Whilst Harry’s draft came as no surprise, as his ability was talked about in glowing terms when he turned out as a wide receiver with the Arizona State University.
The inevitable announcement of Harry’s success in the draft last Thursday, made him the second Vincentian to make it to the NFL, following that of Canadian-born Stefan Charles, the son of Vincentian Thelma Charles, who did so six years ago.
But beyond Harry’s personal emoluments and fame, St Vincent and the Grenadines as a whole, came in for some publicity.
For those who looked at the draft, the biography on Harry was complemented with snippets of information on St Vincent and the Grenadines, thus linking Harry’s journey to the NFL.
Surely, many persons who looked at the draft live or saw it subsequently, got to know that there is a place known as St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Added, there were several photo shots of Harry and other family members holding the St Vincent and the Grenadines flag, or portraits of it, as the world looked on.
Harry himself in his many interviews constantly speaks about St Vincent and the Grenadines.
These surely are free marketing exercises that the Tourism authorities here cannot afford, but has had far reach in selling St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Looking ahead, granted that the New England Patriots make the Super Bowl again, more publicity can be had for the country of his birth.
Critically, Harry in one of his interviews mentioned as one of his ambitions, is to help develop a sports academy here in St Vincent and the Grenadines, to harness the many talents, instead of having to leave these shores.
This is an exhibition of where his heart is, as it relates to St Vincent and the Grenadines.
It was the same type of promotion that St Vincent and the Grenadines got via the mass media, when Adonal Foyle played in the NBA, or when Sophia Young and Sancho Lyttle, were shining lights in the WNBA.
Similarly, the brief appearances of Oalex Anderson in Major League Soccer, Rodney Jack in the England set up,, Marlon James in the Malaysian football league and the USL among others, have served such a purpose.
Likewise, whenever a Vincentian cricketer plays internationally for the West Indies, this country is identified and singled out, usually with some statistics on St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Our sportsmen and women are too, trump cards for development, as they are at the forefront, who by their exploits, enable the national sporting associations to bid for financial grants for infrastructure development and the likes.
In turn, the country’s sporting assets are increased and enhanced, thus relieving central government of some burden.
Those highlights are just some of avenues where sports brings much acclaim to a country.
None of the many politicians who has occupied the seats of this country’s parliament, have been, in a positive way, an advertising tool for St Vincent and he Grenadines, merely by performance and achievements.
And, just to reiterate what was expounded in this column’s last edition, national associations combined, and the St Vincent and the Grenadines Olympic Committee, bring millions of dollars in direct revenue to this country annually.
Therefore, it is difficult to comprehend why those with the purse strings and the shapers of public policies, not place sports in St Vincent and the Grenadines close to the top of priority areas for national development.
Instead, they are resigned to degenerate sports into a reactive crime fighting agency, via the shaping of a public policy named “Sports Against Crime”.
Let it be known that sports is more than that, as it inherently shapes character, it is rule- bound, hence cultures law-abiding citizens; it is a mechanism for social transformation, and a fast developing economic source.
Those are just some of the powers of sports.