Collin Greenland, Contributor
Much has been said and written about Jamaica's converting success in Beijing, Berlin and now Moscow, into tangible economic benefits. Though not an original thought, among the best suggestions I've heard is from historian, Arnold Bertram, who postulated a USA versus Jamaica track meet. Such a titanic 'Jamerican' clash between the world's two most powerful sprint giants would of course attract colossal international attention and if packaged judiciously, garner immense economic benefits, especially through sports, culture and events marketing tourism.
However, an athletic clash against the USA would probably be one-sided since admittedly, we may dominate the sprints, but realistically, the USA's depth in middle/ long distances and field events would, however, ensure them of a lopsided victory in overall medal count of every colour. A more expanded 'Carimerican' clash between the USA and all the combined Caribbean countries (Cuba included) would be more beneficial for the following reasons:
1. Teams More Evenly Matched
Instead of being limited to just Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (if Yohan Blake is still unfit), a galaxy of other Caribbean stars such as Grenadian Kirani James (400 metre); Dominican Republic's Felix Sanchez (400-metre hurdles); Trinidad and Tobago's Keyshorn Walcott (javelin) and Jehue Gordon (400-metre hurdles), Cuban Dayron Robles (110-metre hurdles); Bahamian Leevan Sands (triple jump), Puerto Rican Javier Culson (400-metre hurdles); Cuban Omar Cisneros (400-metre hurdles); and Cuban Yarelis Barrios (discus), would strengthen the Caribbean team, resulting in more balanced and competitive competition.
2. Broader Sponsorship
Although Brand Jamaica is an attractive, potentially lucrative powerhouse, the other Caribbean conglomerates obviously would be more receptive to sponsoring an event that featured athletes from their countries competing alongside their iconic Jamaican neighbours. In addition, many Caribbean corporations operate in many islands and in North America, so the 'Carimerican' spectacle would definitely offer more marketing possibilities than the Jamerican event alone could ever offer.
3. Strengthening Caribbean Ties
The Caribbean organisations already in existence such as Caricom, Carifta, University of the West Indies, etc, will be further strengthened as the act of collectively selecting and subsequently supporting the best from among us can only argue well and can inspire other types of collaborations in Caribbean unity.
4. Strengthening Caribbean/American Ties
Likewise, the Caribbean/American organisations already in existence such as the CONCACAF, Organisation of American States, American Chamber of Commerce etc, will be further strengthened and synergies already existing from these may be further enhanced.
5. Filling Gap for Non Olympic / World Championship Years
This mammoth track meet could be scheduled in the years that do not have Olympic or World Championship games and so fill the gap for athletes, sponsors and the public at large starved of track and field in these idle years.
6. Innumerable Tourism Possibilities
The nature and scale of a well-executed 'Carimerican' track and field meet would provide infinite possibilities in all aspects of tourism including special areas such as sports tourism; destination stewardship; preservation and promotion of cultural/heritage tourism; inter-sectoral linkages; bed and breakfast accommodations; community tourism; public-private partnerships or alliances; poverty alleviation; tourism safety and security; multi-destination tourism; intra-regional travel; promotion of sustainable destinations; and niche market development.
In fact, the possibilities that would be opened to both the public and private sectors would be limited only by our imagination.
7. Other Related Possibilities
In addition to the tourism-related possibilities, others will either be created or immensely developed such as sports journalism; sports research; sporting academics; sporting statistics; sporting econometrics; sports medicine; coaching; sporting agents; sports promoters; sportswear; sporting paraphernalia; sports law; sports fashion; sports nutrition; etc. The possibilities are endless!
8. Historical Precedence
Historically, the world has seen the advent of similar games in the form of the Goodwill Games, which was an international sports competition created by Ted Turner in reaction to the political troubles surrounding the Olympic Games of the 1980s. Then there was also the Friendship Games, an international multi-sport event held between July 2 and September 16, 1984 in the Soviet Union and eight other socialist states which boycotted the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
I'm sure these eight potent consideration could be supplemented by many more. Whatever these proposed 'Carimerican' games are eventually called, the political, economic, social and cultural benefits to be derived by not only Jamaica, but also the wider Caribbean and the USA, are incalculable.