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Time for a Jamaican athlete insurance fund

 

posted by Focused on August 27, 2010 @ 11:37 am in SPORTS

Jamaica’s well-known love affair with athletics has lasted for decades and has evolved into a fruitful marriage. The Olympic and World Championship gold medal victories of Jamaican athletes in 2008 and 2009 is the latest reminder of that fact. In 2008, the Jamaican government carried out very lavish celebrations for the athletes. Many Jamaicans argued that the government went overboard. Was too much money spent ? I don’t have the exact figures but I strongly believe that more money should have been spent in a way that would actually benefit the athletes. Ever thought of a Jamaican athlete insurance fund ?

 

Athletes push their bodies to the limit and are not immune from injury. This is especially true in a sport like track and field. Sprinters, for example, put their bodies through tremendous stress while constantly seeking to push the limit of human performance. They put their bodies on the line. When they run for their country, they are putting their body on the line for their country. What if a sudden injury had prevented Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser and Melaine Walker from obtaining the gold medals for which they are revered today ? Would people care as much about their (the medalists) health as they do now ? Probably not. Yet the fact remains that they would have gotten injured while trying to earn a medal for their country. Hence the establishment of a Jamaican athlete insurance fund.

 

The creation of an insurance fund for athletes who represent Jamaica would allow the injured athletes to cover their often-high medical bills regardless of whether the injury occurs while competing at the youth, junior or senior level. Believe it or not, track and field does not pay well, especially compared to other professional sports such as basketball, football or tennis. Only a handful of athletes get to live off appearance fees alone. Unless they benefit from private sponsorship or government subsidies (as is the case in some countries), the rest have to find other sources of income during the off-season. A serious injury could cause an athlete to miss training and work for an extended period of time. It is a shame when an athlete’s career is cut short because he or she cannot afford to pay for proper medical treatment.

 

If untreated in a timely manner, a sports injury can force an athlete into premature retirement from his or her sport. A Jamaican athlete insurance fund would prevent such tragedies from happening. How would this fund be established and financed?

 

Bodies such as the Jamaica Amateur Athletics Association (JAAA), Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) and the Jamaican Government could come together to establish the fund. Proper legislation should follow the establishment of the fund. I would suggest the that the following laws be passed:

 

• The mandatory requirement for promoters and media houses to invest 10% of all revenue generated from the organization of track meets in Jamaica into the Jamaican Athlete Insurance Fund.

 

• Companies wishing to sign endorsement deals with Jamaican athletes would be required to make an annual payment to the Jamaican Athlete Insurance Fund for the entire length of time that the athlete is contracted to them.

 

• The Jamaican Amateur Athletics Association would be required to invest 25% of its revenue into the Jamaican Athlete Insurance Fund.

 

Many more laws could be added as time goes on. Our athletes are human beings, not pieces of meat that one disposes of in favor of a new attraction. They train extremely hard. As fans, let us not be fickle. Waving flags with pride when our athletes win is easy, let us also look out for them if and when times get rough.

 

 

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