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CLM TV Host Successful Sports Symposium In Harlem

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Motivational speaker and winter Olympian (Bobsled team) Devon Harris spoke about missed opportunities by the Jamaica Tourism Board (JTB) and the government to financially capitalize on the popularity of the 1988 Bobsled team, which he said still enjoys tremendous appeal around the globe.

“My experience during the recent winter Games in Vancouver left me pleasantly surprised that the original Bobsled team is still adored by so many people. While the Tourist Board and other corporate interests could successfully use members of the original team to endorse their products and services; I believe long term, a serious and significant investment in the current and future teams could reap untold financial benefits for all concerned. This requires a solid financial commitment to support the team as well as smart, strategic marketing and PR” said Harris who was a panelist at the recently concluded CLM TV Sports Symposium at the Schomburg Center in New York recently. The Legacy of the Beijing Olympics, Sports Tourism and Brand Jamaica were among the topics discussed.

Harris said if he had to do it again (representing Jamaica in the sport), he would “have paid attention to all the money that was swirling around the team; Put good structures in place for the selling of T-shirts; Seek out financial partners to help finance and develop the Jamaica bobsled brand; Get a qualified lawyer to read through the contract and negotiate with Disney..not just for royalties (of which we got zero) but also to develop merchandise.”

It was noted by Grace Jackson, who is now Director of Sports Development at UWI that Jamaica has always performed well over the years in athletics, enjoying numerous successes on the world stage. Jackson addressed recent developments at UWI in sports; the synergy, collaboration, partnerships with other institutions and noted that the way forward demanded leadership, innovation and vision. She spoke briefly about the new 400-meter track—a gift to Mr. Bolt that has been described as an exact replica of the Beijing Olympics Stadium track. She sees this as a step in the right direction and expressed her desire to see tracks installed all over the island. The University she noted was also on the way to enhancing its laboratory facilities from which testing of athletes (not just in track & field) would take place.

Laying out MVP Track Club’s path to success, its president Bruce James emphatically pointed out the difficulty the club experienced in the initial stages to get the government and private sector to see their vision. Connecting the successes of MVP’s program in training athletes locally to the country’s economy he noted the new paradigm, where athletes earn money abroad while still living in Jamaica. James focused on the economic benefit of this approach. He also spoke of MVP’s commitment to their athletes by helping them secure academic education and instituting mandatory investment and money management courses to assist athletes with their finances. James also pointed out that Brand Jamaica has benefited from appearances of their signature athletes who have availed themselves (at no cost) to the country’s tourism and marketing efforts overseas. He said direction, vision and collegiality is needed among relevant agencies and ministries if a framework for growth and development is to be seriously established.

Former 100m world record holder Ben Johnson spoke about the importance of athletes saving and investing their money while still being active on the circuit. He recalled that he earned over US$100,000/month at his peak but lost 80% of it once he stopped competing.

Prior to the symposium, event organizers CLM TV presented a media/VIP reception for the panelists. Among the international media covering the reception were Reuters TV, Reuters news agency and CBC TV which sent a contingent from Canada. The symposium was moderated by Irwine Clare and Clement Hume.

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Written by jamarch