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February 15, 2020

Dalton Myers| Our Athletes Need Support

Published:Saturday | February 15, 2020 | 12:14 AM
Source: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/sports/20200215/our-athletes-need-support

The track and field season has begun in earnest with several local and international meetings schedules each week. Locally, a lot of focus is on the juniors, while internationally, the seniors are currently competing primarily indoors. However, most eyes will focus on Tokyo 2020 and the Diamond League Finals later this year.

Local track meets create a platform for our athletes to develop, and for coaches to see where their charges are relative to other competitors. What many persons may not know is that many athletes are struggling financially, mentally, and physically on this journey. As fans, we mostly see the end results and very often criticise them when they do not meet our expectations.

The truth is, our athletes need way more support than we are able to provide as a country but there is definitely more we can do in helping them. I know the argument is that when we help them that the success is personal and said athlete may never help anyone in return. However, our athletes are our ambassadors, who help to advertise ‘Brand Jamaica’. So while we do not necessarily need to individually fund athlete development, collectively, we have a role in helping them in whatever way possible.

Athletes struggle with injuries and I am happy to see several on the path to recovery. The likes of Kemar Bailey-Cole, Yohan Blake, Ristananna Tracey and Michael O’Hara have shown signs that they have shrugged off those injury worries. I know there are some others out there who continue to struggle with various types of injuries, but I hope to see them at their best this year.

Athletes need many forms of support to do well. It takes a lot of financial assistance to train at the highest level, maintain a proper diet, physical and emotional well-being, as well as other expenses such as weight training, transportation and nutritional support. This is why I have always advocated for more support for our athletes from corporate Jamaica, our Government and the local sporting associations. I know sometimes it’s hard to quantify this help, and for corporate Jamaica, it may be even more difficult to understand or place a value on this assistance.

HUGE INVESTORS

A large portion of the money pumped into track and field comes from apparel sponsors, Puma, Nike and adidas. They invest a large amount in our track and field programme, with these three being the main sponsors of our Olympics, World Championships teams and events such as Grand Prix. They are huge investors in our high-school programme, local track and field clubs and institutions. I am not in any way suggesting that several others do not help fund our sports programme or undervaluing their investment but generally a lot more needs to be done.

We may have issues with how apparel companies investment is done in high schools, and in some cases at professional level, but without these sponsors in Jamaica, we would have struggled in this current climate. Obviously, they invest because they see a direct correlation between the success of our track and field and their brands. However, there is still a huge gap to be filled.

BRAND RECOGNITION

The other issue for me is that not many of our athletes allow the average fan to know them, or for their brand to be recognised nationally. This causes another issue as the average fan then does not get a chance to understand the story behind a particular athlete and empathise with him/her when he/she is struggling. Some of this is because athletes locally do not seem to want to work on their brand and/or do not see the value in it. This leaves fans to rely on what they hear or just the few seconds they see them on the track.

As we follow the campaign to Tokyo, we should think about what role we can play in investing in our athletes or just providing support. We can think about volunteering at track and field meets locally or assisting with clubs, schools or institutions. We can also support other track meets at the stadium in addition to Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships or Racers Grand Prix. These are small but helpful. On a larger scale, I hope we can convince more corporate sponsors to support our athletes now and not just when they win medals. Our athletes desperately need your support.

Dalton Myers is a sports consultant and host of The Drive Phase Podcast. Email feedback to daltonsmyers@gmail.com or tweet @daltonsmyers

Source: The Jamaica Gleaner

November 28, 2019

Dalton Myers | Safeguarding Our Children In Sports

Published:Saturday | November 23, 2019
The Jamaica Gleaner

November 20, 2019 was universally acknowledged as World Children’s Day. On that date in 1989, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). As a signatory to the convention, Jamaica has committed to safeguarding the rights of children. On November 19, 2019, children were allowed to address our Parliament on a historic occasion. Through their words, we were made to listen to accounts of the level of violence and abuse our children face daily.

For a lot of us, those stories sounded familiar as we have heard similar things before, even in our very own communities, homes, schools, churches. Sport, incidentally, is one of the common spaces where abuse of children occurs worldwide. RJRGLEANER Communications Group sports journalist Karen Madden, in her op-ed Turning The Spotlight On Coaches – Rising Concern Over Sexual And Physical Abuse Of Athletes highlighted some of the issues faced by children who play sport. Before that, Children’s Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison delivered a keynote presentation entitled “Investing Now; Safeguarding our Future” at the Jamaica Olympic Association’s Sport for Breakfast series. Gordon Harrison highlighted some of the many abuses that children who play sport face, and even some of the issues in getting information to protect these children.

This month is a time for us to not just reflect on what our children are going through, but also recognise that sport can be a big enabler of child abuse. Each of us has a role to play. It is believed that one in four girls in Jamaica have been exposed to sexual abuse; while in Europe, about one in five children are victims of some form of sexual violence.

The Council of Europe’s Human Rights Channel Stop Child Sexual Abuse in Sport argues that “between 70 and 85 per cent of children know their abuser.” The vast majority of children are victims of people they ‘trust,’ which is similar to our local statistics. Additionally, about a third of abused children will never tell anyone. So sport is a huge gateway for abuse of children. This abuse can include, but is not limited to rape, pornography, sexual harassment, sexual touching, grooming, exploitation, online bullying, and so on.

A big reason children abuse can be rampant in sport is because there is a high tolerance and acceptance of pain and injury. Children are pushed beyond their limits and told that it is a part of being successful. Many parents support this notion too and allow coaches and managers to continue the physical and emotional abuse. Children in sport are encouraged to trust their coaches and sometimes find it difficult to distinguish that trust or support from sexual touching or grooming. The athlete is forced to listen to and obey given commands and is invariably afraid that he or she will not be taken seriously if he or she complains.

There is also the aspect of cover-ups in sports where often times it is argued that the various institutions are aware, but afraid of scandals; so they too do nothing to stop the abuse. Children then start to accept it or go in state of depression.

It is not all doom and gloom. However, I am suggesting that abuse of children in sports is probably more widespread in Jamaica than we want to accept. We all have a role to play in safeguarding children in our respective lives. This week, we also celebrated International Men’s Day. It is also a time for us men to reflect on our role in protecting our children and call out any form of abuse that we may witness or be aware of. In the words of 10-year-old Keino King in the Jamaica Parliament “So I ask you, what are you doing to help break the cycle?”

Dalton Myers is a sports consultant and host of The Drive Phase Podcast. Send feedback to daltonsmyers@gmail.com or tweet @daltonsmyers

Eight measures by the International Safeguard for Children in Sports group which could be used locally:

• Developing safeguard policies for children in sport

• Creating procedures for responding to any safeguarding concerns that may arise

• Providing facilities for advice and support of children

• Minimising any form of risks to children

• Creating guidelines for behaviour for coaches, administrators, athletes, et cetera

• Recruiting persons in sports should also include training programmes aimed at safeguarding children in sport from abuse

• Working with partners both locally and overseas to tackle issues of child abuse and protecting children in sport

• Monitoring and evaluating of any safeguarding tool along with self-evaluation to see if these measures are working.

October 8, 2019

Sports As A Vehicle For Positive Change

As we approach the end of 2018, we are left to reflect on the year that was and the extent to which sport continues to make positive contributions in the lives of Jamaicans. As I reflect on the many successes, I also think about the missed opportunities. However, I feel confident that we will continue to see sport as a vehicle for positive change in our society.

As we move into 2019, there are some challenges that need to be examined to see how best we can become a model for the rest of the world. Sport doesn’t just happen on the field of play but can also be a crucial tool in addressing social issues such as discrimination (gender, race, class, age), gender-based violence, sexual abuse, child abuse, and corruption.

This year, many of these issues arose in sport globally. There was the imprisonment of USA Gymnastics’ national team doctor, Larry Nassar, for sexual assault. In Jamaica, a physical-education teacher allegedly used a PVC pipe to physically abuse a student athlete. I am happy to hear that the Office of the Children’s Advocate is now involved in this matter. Local sporting organisations need to implement policies aimed at protecting minors in sports. I know there are general laws to safeguard minors, but there are still serious challenges in creating safe spaces for our children who want to participate in sport.

It’s time for all associations to implement specific child/minor policies and ensure that all officials involved with children submit some form of ‘fit and proper’ documentation and/or police certificates of character. Internationally, we saw the Safeguarding Children in Sport Initiative’ that implemented the Be a Champion for Children campaign in November. Coaches, parents, teachers and sports organisations are encouraged to implement the International Safeguards for Children into their programmes – something we could examine and adopt.

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October 8, 2019

What Is The CPL’s Real Value?

Conducting any economic impact study on sports is usually very useful in evaluating the net change in an economy due to particular sporting activity, so I can understand the need for the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) to also conduct a study on the annual CPLT20.

If you missed it, the CPL has published aspects of its 2018 impact
study done by SMG Insight and indicated that the last tournament had a
US$127 million impact on the region.

It reached this conclusion based on “organiser spend, visitor spend,
and media value”. While the figures seem great at first glance, I have
several questions about what was published. I have no doubt that CPLT20
has pumped life into a dying sport in the region, but the organisers
probably should have produced more information for us to fully
understand this impact on our Caribbean nation-states. It would be great
to know the percentages for each territory, as well as Florida, and in
what areas.

The CPL report suggested media exposure of US$46 million but does not
explain in anyway how this value impacts society versus income
generation to the private entity; neither does it say what this ‘impact’
is from the exposure (more people coming to the Caribbean for sport
tourism, etc?).

Even more surprising for me is the visitor spend of just under US$24 million.

How much of this is on local versus imported goods? Where in the Caribbean are people spending due to the CPL? In fact, it would be great to ascertain the matrix used, and how the CPL determined that within that period, the spend is not residual from other activities that would normally occur, but so happened to be taking place around the venue. The report also indicated that the CPL employed 1,942 ‘local’ persons but did not indicate what that employment amounted to in dollar value or in what area. Maybe we could learn if the public purse benefits from this, or taxes, or are there tax write-offs?

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October 8, 2019

Corporate Governance And The Business Of Sport

As we discuss sports in Jamaica and national governing bodies, I think
it is important to also examine the importance of corporate governance
and the business of sport.

The appointment of the first chief executive officer (CEO) for the
Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) was part of the commitment of the new
board upon taking office in 2017.

That in and of itself was not the commitment, but there was talk of a
complete restructuring of JOA operations. President Christopher Samuda,
while campaigning and upon taking up office, pledged to create a new
“corporate governance structure” as part of what he described as a
“pathway to success model” for sports. While he has explained it, it was
still unclear, at the time, how it would be manifested. In fact, with
the exception of the Special Olympics, through its executive director
and the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) with the employment of a CEO
and management team, there has been harsh criticism of the governance
structure of local sports, which many believe contributes to wastage and
us not being able to be as productive as we can be.

In a previous column, I examined the increased funding contribution the
JOA has been making to national sporting bodies; however, it is this
new structure that has also been impressive, creating a business model
that is attracting many sponsors and donors. So far, the CEO has been
appointed to lead the restructuring exercise as well as garner funds for
the development of sports. He gets his operational support from a group
of professionals employed to help build the organisation – a business
development manager, an information technology specialist, an office
manager, communications specialist, and importantly, a member relations
manager. This is very crucial. In fact, my view is that if these newly
employed staff can work closely with the various stakeholders, then it
augurs well for sports development in Jamaica.

The hope is that a move like this will not just help with funding, but also, assisting the governance of sports, as well as the development of athletes, coaches, and importantly, sport administrators in Jamaica. It may seem simple, but for years, we’ve been clamouring for a new direction, not just for JOA, but for all the national sporting organisations, in terms of corporate governance structures and the operations of all relevant bodies.

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September 30, 2019

A broader view of track and field success

The 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships are here and over the next nine days we expect nothing but some great competition both on the track and in the field in Doha, Qatar. Expectations are high, and Jamaicans have already started making the customary medal predictions, and in some cases, experts have been having their say on the athletes they think will do well.

For me, this edition of the World Championships is less about the medals themselves and more about the progress we have made since the last championships in London. Additionally, it will give ideas as to the strategies we will need to implement to advance our track and field programme. The measurement of success should not be solely based on medals but rather should include personal bests, season’s bests, etc., as well as a genuine appreciation of the work put in by our athletes.

Doha 2019 is no ordinary World Championships event. The timing and the weather have made the 2018-19 seasons interesting ones. Most global track and field calendars have had to be adjusted, and controversies abounded with our own calendar. When our National Championship date was first announced it didn’t end there. The JAAA was forced to back-pedal on their initial decision; then later forced to add athletes to particular events due to not having enough qualified persons in certain events. Of course, a doping scandal has also rocked us but now the athlete has been cleared, we hope that this aside we can perform to our best.

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