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Fennell hails contribution of sports to brand Jamaica

Published:Sunday | May 20, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Jermaine Lannaman, Gleaner Writer

Jamaica Olympic Association president, Mike Fennell, has joined the growing list of sports administrators who are calling on the private sector to do a better assessment of sports and its benefits to not only their business' success but also national development.

"Sport has contributed significantly to what is known as brand Jamaica, and there is general concern that sufficient effort is not being made to exploit the vast potential of these strengths," he said at last Friday's second annual CARIMAC/Professor Aggrey Brown Distinguished Lecture at the University of the West Indies (UWI).

"To the world economy it should be noted that the global sport industry is valued at US$112 billion and is one of the fastest growing sectors.

"Locally, it has been calculated by economists that the sports industry represents approximately 2.6 per cent of GDP (Professor Vanus James), and that this is without any significant manufacturing of sports goods ... or serious professional participants such as athletes, promoters and administrators," he added.

The lecture, which was attended by members of the business, sports, education sectors and media also saw Fennell expanding on one of the newest and biggest source of revenue streams in sports, television rights.

"The television rights for the London Olympics, for example, will be in excess of US$2 billion, and if you look at the television rights for say the Super Bowl and the FIFA World Cup what advertisers pay for advertising is phenomenal ... close to US$1 million per advertisement," he said.

"This is as a result of companies, locally and internationally, recognising the potential marketing reach and impact on their target audience, and the attending benefits of an increase in product sales and eventual profits."

sports and national development

Fennell, who has held various posts on several high-profile national, regional and international sporting bodies, also went on to comment on the importance of sports to national development given, among others, its social, health and educational benefits.

"The impact of sport on socialisation is demonstrated in many ways particularly through the values that it promotes; respect for rules, which amounts to a greater sense of discipline, respect for authority - the decisions of judges and referees, respect for opponents, and respect for sponsors and those who support and assist you ...," he continued.

"The importance of sport on health is another area that cannot be denied although this had not been properly acknowledged formally.

"It is interesting to note that in the European Community a study was done some years ago, which produced empirical evidence showing that communities that invested in sport and physical recreation had experienced a significant reduction in health costs.

"Meanwhile, as it relates to education, sports is critical to the wholesome development of students; and, indeed, the fact that physical education is included in the curricula of our various educational systems is welcomed and applauded.

"A sound mind in a sound body is still fundamental to the educational system," he said.

At Friday's lecture the organisers, CARIMAC, handed over to the wife of the late Professor Brown, Dr Suzanne Francis-Brown, a DVD collection series of some of his lectures and favourite manuscripts. The collection series can be viewed on the university's website.