Sport needs sponsorship
On the Sporting Edge
IN the last month western Jamaica has hosted three international sporting events: the fifth Jamaica Triathlon hosted by Ibero Star hotel in early November, last weekend's 49th Jamaica Open golf tournament at Half Moon hotel and the Reggae Marathon in Negril.
All three are by now established calendar events and important cogs in the drive to improve the sports tourism product especially just before the start of the winter tourist season that gets underway on December 15th.
The organisers of the Reggae marathon were quoted as saying this year's turnout was the largest they had ever seen, and while this is all well and good, there seems to be one thing missing from all three events.
There wasn't one single 'star' name at any of the three events despite the entries from dozens of countries all over the world.
The absence of any recognisable star, a second-tier star or a even a rising star with some amount recognition is seriously hampering the growth of the events here.
The Jamaica Open golf is easily the biggest event of its kind here in the island and was being hosted by a major hotel and except for the 'regulars' who turned out on Saturday, only a handful even ventured to the wonderfully prepared Half Moon course.
Were it not for family members of some of the athletes taking part in the events at Ibero Star last month, the athletes would have been there all by themselves.
It's a Catch-22 situation for the organisers of these events however, they can't get enough corporate support to attract the kind of athletes that would in turn attract the big turn out of fans.
Appearance fees or significant prize monies are required to attract the calibre of competitors to raise the status of the events. However in some instances, these events are getting along on the barest of budgets, just enough to ensure they are held.
While the marathon appears to be doing well and is in no apparent danger, it seems the Jamaica Open and the Triathlon organisers need to step up their preparations and sponsorship drive if they are to grow or even survive.
It would be a real shame if any of these important sporting events should be forced to pull the plug.
Who knows which young athlete could be influenced by these competitions and could go on to earn a college scholarship and an education or even be world class and make a living from their sport.
While there is no doubt times are tough and the dollar is not going as far as it did a few years ago, without corporate support, these events will die and with them the dreams and ambitions of so many youngsters.