Sat | Feb 16, 2019

Letter of the Day | Have some mercy, ISSA

Published:Thursday | February 7, 2019 | 12:17 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

Annually, the Boys and Girls’ Athletic Championships is the premier event on our athletic calendar. This is an event where high-school boys and girls display their talents with the hope that in the end their school will be crowned champion. The championship is seen as a family event, so parents, relatives, friends and other supporters fill the stadium in support of not only the children participating, but also their favourite schools.

Our Champs product is unique and the best of its kind for high-school children, globally. But I looked at the pricing for the 2019 championship and I am worried about the direction in which ISSA has trended. I have to ask whether the target market for Champs has changed over the years. Clearly, it is no longer a Champs catering to schoolchildren and their families – well, not at the prices that were published by ISSA recently.

SPONSORS

Champs is also a sponsored event, and I ask what is the use of having sponsors if the contributions of these sponsors – cash or kind – does not positively impact the total cost of staging the championship and, by extension, the price supporters pay to attend the event.

Over the years, students, families, friends and supporters of schools fill the stadium. The children prefer to be in the bleachers among their school friends, while most adults have a preference from the grandstand area.

TICKET PRICES

Bleachers tickets, which are predominantly purchased for students (as noted earlier), cost $500 on Friday, and on Saturday it’s $1,500.

Even at $500, many parents cannot afford to purchase tickets for their children. And on Saturday, the day when children – especially those outside of the Kingston metropolitan region are able to attend since school is out of session – the tickets are priced at $1,500. And, one must be mindful that there are other costs associated with their attendance at the championship.

The grandstand continues to be milked – cost of the tickets for Friday and Saturday are $3,500 and $7,500, respectively, with season tickets selling for $13,500 and $15,000.

Is the four-day championship now billed as a Grand Prix, catering to persons travelling from overseas and not locals?

ISSA, please, it’s not too late to revise your pricing – this is a high-school event, and too many children and their families simply cannot afford these prices.

ISSA, we cannot allow this rich heritage, this unique product and the camaraderie it engenders with families and their children, to be destroyed.

PAT WILLIAMS BIGNALL

wilbig@cwjamaica.com