Stokes wants greater sports revenue focus
Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) first vice-president, Nelson Stokes, says that the COVID-19 pandemic should result in creative ways for sports to generate revenue for Caribbean countries.
Stokes was speaking at the University of the West Indies’ Online Forum titled Sports Impact of COVID-19 on the topic ‘Sport Policy and Governance’ on Friday.
Stokes said that in light of the adjustments that society has had to make because of the pandemic, a similar change is needed to combine the sporting disciplines the country participates in for profit earning.
“One of the things that I like about COVID-19 is that it has forced us to change,” Stokes said. “Let us take advantage of that change in our mindset to ask ourselves, ‘Those sports that we are good at, how do we package it, integrate it with our tourism product, and create its own revenue stream on sports as entertainment?’
“We can think differently, out of the box, and I think that’s where we need to spend our time and energy.”
When asked whether governments should be solely responsible for social elements of sporting policy and not the business element, Stokes said that governments’ prime directive should be how sports can benefit all stakeholders.
“The first responsibility is a broader application of sports because, believe me, there is more to sports than winning an Olympic medal,” he said. “The persons who are going to win a medal are a minuscule of the percentage of persons who can benefit from sports.”
But Stokes said that both sporting associations and local authorities are critical in balancing the business and social aspects.
“There comes a point where the entrepreneurial drive and spirit of the individual and the club is what pushes you over the top in a great deal of cases,” he said. “We mustn’t seek to control that, we must facilitate that,” he said. “But I think that we do a disservice to our people if 60, 70, 80 per cent of the money goes [to] chasing medals when there are children drinking soda pop and not taking physical education in schools. So it is a matter of perspective, and balance, and transition.”