On Target
November 26, 2004
Connecting with the sponsorship scenario

All of a sudden, the issue of sponsorship has surfaced as a crucial issue in regional sporting endeavours. Sadly, that furore has hit the Caribbean, perhaps a spill over of the scenario on the international sphere.

If the VB Limited Overs series in Australia next year takes place, there might be a different West Indies squad from those on the list of those originally invited to prepare. {{more}}

The West Indies Players Association and the West Indies Cricket Board are in dispute over certain terms and arrangements involving the players. The impasse seems difficult to resolve, even in the face of long negotiating sessions between the parties.

The Caribbean has been known to be a breeding ground for exploitation, from its historical and colonial legacy. Breaking out of that mould has always proven a turbulent exercise, so the ongoing situation is a gentle reminder of the factors and potential explosion.

Up until recently, money for Caribbean sports figures was like a pipe dream. Athletes participated for the sheer love and enjoyment of sport. But former ace West Indian speedster, politician and evangelist, Rev. Wesley Hall, put the issue bluntly if not humorously at a Sports Tourism Forum last Wednesday at the Peace Memorial Hall when he referred to the meager returns when he quit the game of cricket.

The scramble for sponsorship rights and their connecting factors have escalated with venomous intensity, especially in recent years, and they seem to have traversed the entire sporting spectrum.

While some arrangements spell added value and recognition to our tremendous sporting talent, there is the very possibility of scaring off sponsors. There is also the potential of driving a rift between players and associations.

In the end, the very sport is likely to suffer in more ways than one.

In some instances, the sponsorship may be withdrawn owing to the atmosphere of acrimony over which many of the negotiations have been known to have taken place.

In the other instance, players stand to lose either from their own indifference or from the controversy around the entire episode.

We have to be careful how we rationalise our actions in the face of rapidly changing and evolving circumstances. And the appeal goes to every one.

While there is need for the maintenance of pride, dignity and respect for human rights, one has to be mindful of the global trend. The Caribbean has been known for its unique style, engendered by historical lessons. We can’t throw away the baby with the bath water. But we have to always improve the package to cater for the diversity of interest be it players, associations or spectators.