Sat | Feb 22, 2020

Praise corporate sponsors for stepping up

Published:Saturday | April 18, 2015 | 12:00 AM


Like many other Jamaicans, I am disappointed that Jaheel Hyde and Michael O'Hara won't be representing their schools in the Penn Relays this year. But then again, I am happy that these two have the support of two of Jamaica's major corporate entities behind them.

So if they really want to go to the Penn Relays, they can do so as professional athletes next year and they won't need to scramble to buy gear, pay for training, airfare, accommodation, food and all the other expenses that are part and parcel of being an athlete (and trust me, as the father of an aspiring young footballer, my pocket burns very often).

What is shameful is that, as a nation, some of us do not even know what we want or what we stand for. One minute we chide corporate companies for not supporting our athletes, then, in another instance, we criticise them when they do support the athletes.

I can recall a number of years ago, corporate Jamaica was vilified for not supporting individual swimmers like Sion Brinn and Janelle Atkinson. Then, when those athletes migrated, got corporate sponsors and started making waves in the sport, we complained and said that they were 'foreign-minded', choosing to go to America instead of staying home in Jamaica and trying to develop the sport.

And let's also be frank. Corporate companies throw millions of dollars in sponsorship fees on major events like Champs, but does any of that go to the individual athletes?

I'm thankful that I see more and more companies really investing in sports, like Grace with Champs and recently there was the Digicel Grand Prix, which saw schools winning needed funds towards their sports programmes.

If companies choose to put their money behind the most promising athlete, they can, I don't blame them. I think this should be an incentive for all other young athletes to perform at their best.