Sport and business hand-in-hand

News that multi-business giant GraceKennedy, through its subsidiary Grace Foods, is renewing partnership with the acclaimed track and field calendar event, Penn Relays, reminds us of the value of sponsorship in sport, for all concerned.

Our news story tells us that the 2023 Penn Relays will take place between April 27 and 29 at the University of Pennsylvania and that it is now in its 127th year. Of course, GraceKennedy is also lead sponsor of the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys' and Girls' Championships, popularly called Champs, scheduled for the National Stadium in St Andrew March 28-April 1.

Mr Don Wehby, group CEO of GraceKennedy, reminds us that "These meets set the stage for the youth of our nation to showcase their talent in track and field, not only to Jamaica but to the world…"

He said also that "sports is one of the greatest vehicles to promote fair play, discipline, and a drive for excellence among youth… We [GraceKennedy] view this support as a major investment in nation-building, an investment in our youth, our schools, sports development, and our country…"

This newspaper couldn't agree more. Indeed, we have often made the point that organised sport in Jamaica couldn't survive without partnerships with Government, various public sector agencies, and private sector sponsors.

As we have also often said, sponsorship of sports is not the result of corporate operators feeling generous.

There is strong business logic for corporations throwing their weight behind popular events such as the boys' and girls' athletics championships and schoolboy football. Very importantly, it involves the right of such business operators to use such brands in promotion and advertising.

Hence, there are some sporting disciplines that are finding it increasingly difficult to secure sponsorship because of declining popularity, even as others — not least track and field — attract sponsors.

In that regard, applause is always due to those athletes, sporting administrators, coaches, and support staff, who are able to maintain high standards in their disciplines, leading to the kind of popularity and acclaim which will attract business interest.

It's an aspect all involved in sport should pay due regard.

Even those who have left the stage have much to offer.

He never won an individual Olympic or World Championships gold medal, yet Mr Asafa Powell, now retired, will go down in history among Jamaica's most celebrated sprinters.

This newspaper's story 'Guiding Hand' on Friday recalls that Mr Powell twice set world records in the 100 metres — 9.77 seconds and 9.74 seconds — and holds the record for the most sub-10 seconds runs over that distance.

He has twice won bronze medals at the World Championships and played lead roles in gold medal triumphs for Jamaican sprint relay teams at Olympic and World Championships.

We note that Mr Powell is now in Ghana — homeland of his wife and ancestral home for many Jamaicans — on a tour that will allow him to impart knowledge and experience to athletes and sports administrators in that west African nation.

Mr Powell argues that "it's very important for retired athletes to… share our experiences with the upcoming athletes, share our mistakes, share our journey, and hopefully they can learn from it and make better choices…"

Words of wisdom, in our view.

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