Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Economics of Sports


http://buzz.yahoo.com/

First Topic:
Apparently "Bahrain" was the 4th most searched buzz word on October 25, 2005, with an increase of 1769% ! Why? Did they find a case of bird flu, or did the Mehlis report link Hariri's murder to wifaq? Actually, its because we're playing TnT (Trinidad and Tobago) in a couple of weeks, and everyone is excited to see two first time hopefuls try to battle out a ticket to the world cup finals like gladiators.
Now, another topic:
We don't have Gallup polls or things of that sort in Bahrain. I wonder, how do people in power assess public opinion? I hope they don't still depend on "he said, she said" indicators? Sometimes I wonder, does the Crown Prince visit Bahraini blogs, just to see "whats the word on the street"? I hope he does; because unlike the newspapers, we give out our opinions straight and deep. If he does read Bahraini blogs, I want to voice my contribution to the economic development of the Kingdom, since that seems to be under his wing.
Now, the two topics merge:
Shaikh Salman, I think you should direct the EDB and other government bodies dedicated to attract investments and facilities to Bahrain (Financial, Telecommunications, Industry, services) to focus on developing sports...the athletic infrastructure is clearly lacking; its amazing how we're this good with these limited facilities.
Sir, our game next november gave Bahrain so much name recognition. Even the cancelled game with Uzbekistan got us publicity more than money can buy. I sat in a table with people from Africa and Europe that I didnt expect would have the slightest idea where Bahrain is. To my surprise, they were divided in the controversial issue of whether repeating the game was right, or whether the penalty kick was valid.
If we spend half a decent budget on preparing competitive teams that book seats in major athletic events, we can be the center of lots of attention. When the National Team played the asian cup finals, we held China to a tie on their field, and were breathing down Japan's neck in an unforgettable thriller, fans in that part of the world became very interested in ours. Needless to say, lots of economic value comes from Japan, and more than ever, from China.
Let me put it this way. If we advance to a secondary stage in world cup, we have two full hours of air time broadcasted across the globe. More than a third of the world's population watch the final game in WC. If we get close to it, it can get us alot of investment dollars coming here.

26 Comments:

Anonymous Profundity Ferret said...

I agree with you on the issue principally. However, have the athletic infrastructure been established, are we going to see dollars coming here for investment? And would those dollars bring prosperity to us? I doubt.

Have these fancy towers been built and number of licensed banks and other financial institutions increased, do you think we will witness sound economy? Resounding NO.

Lacking of infrastructures are not problems, these are “ reflections” of deeper problems, and if the later were not solved, we will live in nothing but “ bubble” economy. To name just a few of the problems: anarchism, corruption, and injustice.

Sorry joker, I think we should focus on these problems so that if HH. Crown Prince visits the blogs, he would appreciate our opinions more.

Make sense!

7:53 PM  
Anonymous Mahmood Al-Yousif said...

It is wonderful how a collection of 30-something islands which cannot even be seen on a world map can have this much going for it, isn't it?

I mean, we're a force to be reckoned with in sports in general: athletics, motorsports, handball, voleyball, basketball, football and we're leaders in all of these fields in this region and beyond! Other countries in the Gulf would probably sell their mothers to get to the position we have carved for ourselves.

But, can you remember any time at all that we started dominating in these fields? I bet if you look closely you will find two names which shine and most probably were the impetus to the start of this golden era: Fawaz, and Salman. One whose dynamism seems to know no bounds, doesn't take no for an answer, and really believes in Bahrainis, and the other, Shaikh Salman, is the inspiration for us all who has taught us to "think out of the box" (who thought that F1 is even a remote possibility in Bahrain?) and whose favourite saying "BSR : Bahrain Surrounding Region" has been rightly adopted by the high and mighty in the economic world.

So we all have built a sporting nation with excellent brand recognition around the world. What's the next step? The next step in my opinion is to take matters into our own hands and distance ourselves from government handouts "to get better."

The sporting infrastructure should immediately start the weaning process to depend on its commercial sense and get the private industry in Bahrain to adopt it, be that be pure donations, provision of jobs or more appropriately paying athletes and clubs what they deserve (and more) for advertising and branding rights. Above all, we must NOT listen to Al-Hermi trying very hard to get re-elected (not a bloody chance I hope) next year to parliament by promising to waste one million smakerous "on supporting our footballers" gig. No thank you very much, I would rather depend on commercial sense to come up with that money, rather than robbing it from future generations to pander to egos.

So I completely agree with you Joker that our athletes regardless of discipline should be taken care of and allowed to excel in their chosen fields, because whenever they do excel, it is Bahrain's Red and White that is going to be held aloft. But I respectfully disagree as to your call of financial support for these pursuits from the government coffers. These should be got directly from the private sector for services rendered.

9:31 PM  
Blogger MR said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:47 PM  
Blogger MR said...

I'm not sure Bahrain is in good company being on the Movers table. Yahoo: " Movers are the search terms that have increased their buzz score over the previous day's score by the greatest percentage". So it may be similar to that FIFA list which ranked ours as the best developing team in Asia.

And i fear it has more to do with notoriety than fame. Oct 21-24 saw a Jackson's story that had Bahrain in the headline, " After months of living in Bahrain, Jackson: Neverland is no longer my my home", or something to that effect.

11:54 PM  
Blogger Cerebralwaste said...

Joker I got to agree with Mahmood. It is best to let the private sector support the athletes and athletic issues. Governements' role needs to supportive not paternal in these things. The less governement involement the BETTER when it comes to these things.

Bahrain does seem to be carving out a name for itself in soccer and the F1.(and others) All of Bahrain should be proud of this.

12:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

is the private sector in bahrain allowed to do such obvious thing?

2:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder how the joker can see the potentiality of economic of sports of a country in which deeds of discrimination and racism drives all the people involved in sports. I am sure you have seen the champion of bodybuilding in the papers, do you know where does this champion live? Did you know that this champion had borrowed the money in order to buy the special foods for his preparation? And despite all these negligence, what did this neglected champion achieved? He held the red and white aloft for the world silver medal!! May be holding the red and white aloft in body building fields is inferior to car sports ha!

What this overall economy lacking is “infrastructure” of equality, “infrastructure” of labor market, etc. only by then, you will get satisfactory sport’s infrastructure?

2:51 AM  
Blogger Cerebralwaste said...

Olympian Bruce Jenner paid his own way as many did and still do so I am not sure what your point is Mr or Mrs Anon. Are you saying you want the government to pass out blank checks?

Self sacrifice is what is needed and required most of the time. Otherwise your sitting around waiting for a handout. The taste of victory is much sweeter when you EARN it, not having it handed to you.

3:12 AM  
Anonymous Mahmood Al-Yousif said...

"victory is much sweeter when you EARN it"

You're right of course, but what Anon is saying is also very true. There at least appears inequality in the treatment of champions, given that they all happily hold the Bahraini flag aloft.

Tariq Al-Fursani and others like him who have consistantly achieved top positions still live in rented accomodation and has what could arguably be a menial job.

Tariq for instance was given a house as a gift by HM the King, but he's been waiting for more than 3 years to receive it. He does at least receive some measure of support from a sports supliments shop to carry on with his quest.

Yes, we do have immense descrimination in almost every field here, or at least this is what appears to be on the ground. Concerted efforts must be taken to equalise the playing field.

That fortunately is happening right now. Ask any Shi'a athlete how s/he is treated now and whether they are given support by GOYS and you will come to realise that they are, and they (and other observers) would tip their hat to Shaikh Fawaz, its president, who is motivated by results more than he is by skin colour, religious or sectarian affiliation.

Even with that however, more is needed to take care of our athletes without any descrimination but with recognition of their potential.

5:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“victory is much sweeter when you EARN it”

ok, let us take a football player for example, Ronaldo. Would you expect that this gifted player will perform the same if he is living in nothing but debt, his salary is not even enough for his family’s survival (250 B.D, $665, the salary which u do not even give to your gardener I guess), leaving a apart his preparations for championship? Will this talented player perform the same if he KNOWS that his citizenship is considered inferior to others because of his faith and if it happens for him to be chosen in the national team, the publicity( notice that the some papers chose to be silent regarding some achievement of Shia’s champions) goes like this” see, we do not have discrimination, we are treating you like your peers, so YOU SHOULD BE GRATEFUL god dammit!

It should be admitted that Fawaz is taken steps about that.

1:27 PM  
Blogger The Joker said...

Profundity Ferret, I do have the tendancy sometimes to fantasize about quick-fixes... But big problems usually have clear solutions.. I think we should first see people prosper, then we can tackle injustice and corruption. Whats the real benefit if I got rid of all the problems you mentioned and people were still poor and needy?


Mahmood and Cerebral Waste, I totally agree with you guys, if we were in a vacuum. Generally, I am a very liberal guy, and I'd always want government off my back. But the problem is, the private sector in Bahrain isn't really that private. Everything is so centralized to the point that 70% of the economy is government owned! Other than that, I see the EDB very active in hiring lots of young people and flying them all over the globe to sell their pitch... so I propose they include a sports development program, not because our atheletes are a burden on society, but as remuneration for the service they did, and continue to do, of presenting our small jurisdiction in the four corners of the world.

In another context, I would love private initiatives to sponsor teams and sporting events to generate revenues, and the government's role is just limited to regulating acts and laws that carry our values as a society. But at this point, we have a new government entity that is given a very big budget, and seems to be behind lots of things going on, while our sports sector is clearly lacking, so the most obvious thing to ask for right now is to direct part of those resources to that sector, because it acheived, and can potentially achieve much more, of what the government entity is supposed to cradle.

You guys know what I'm saying?

All that said, no one can deny that "victory is much sweeter when you EARN it." But keep in mind, we are below than par in terms of basic sports infrastructure, cerebral. Compare a public highschool football field and sports facilities, not with a public highschool in Bahrain, but even with a private school. Even our young swimmers, they're given scholarships to go to US highschools because of the facilities there.

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(The real benefit if I got rid of all the problems you mentioned and people were still poor and needy?),

If the problems mentioned were solved; they will not be bloody poverty as we have here. It is not quick fix pal (do not make conclusions and judgment before knowing all my take on the issue, please); I am trying to shed alight upon the root causes instead of jumping on the surface to look for them.

2:10 PM  
Blogger The Joker said...

I meant my post as a quick fix. I was just saying I can be a fast-talker in some of my points, and not focus on other faucet issues.

2:58 PM  
Blogger Cerebralwaste said...

Joker, Mahmood et al

My contention is Government as a general rule needs to keep its nose directly out if these issue. It needs to invest itself into creating an environment that fosters a favorable climate that lets the private sector carry the load. Thus creating real jobs and real opportunities based on the market.

Now of course the amount of involvement by Government will vary according to the given situation. I suspect Bahrain will need more Government involvement for a good time while various programs get ramped up. And yes those programs include some infrastructure! Notice I said some.. If you need a rough blueprint look at the Los Angeles Olympics and how that was funded.

If done properly Athletics and Sporting events can create community, regional and national unity. An example would be it would not be wise to wear a NY Yankees Hat around Fenway Park in Boston and not expect to be hassled about doing so. Athletics can also ease racial and religious tensions. Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier and Pele' is hailed as a Soccer God in the US. Gary Player showed the world that despite many peoples beliefs all South Africans were not racist, and the "Greatest" changed his name to Muhammad Ali and changed his religion as well. All of these events in their own way helped America and the world.

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Mahmood Al-Yousif said...

Would you expect that this gifted player will perform the same if he is living in nothing but debt

It amazes me that some actually do! I am sure that some of our champions like Al-Fursani and Saleh for instance, both of whom I have the pleasure of training with them in the same hall. One just makes probably not much more than you suggested, and I'm sure the second doesn't even come close to that with a house that doesn't even have proper flooring, just dirt. In this day and age this is despicable, however, he did achieve championships and will continue to. Only when Al-Wasat's Al-Musawi highlighted their plights did people sit up and cry foul. One it appears was already promised a house by the king but was not given it, and the other got a house only when the prime minister became aware of his troubles.

I am absolutely sure that these are not he only two who face these problems. Only exposure by the press would bring their suffering closer to an end, we hope. But it is the main sports authority's manager who are to blame, when they contract foreigners to carry the flag when we have our own home-grown champions ready and willing and capable.

That is not to say that I am against naturalising sports men and women, that is all part of the PR game, but our own should be given much more attention, and I can guarantee you that should these middle (or meddling) manager bring the plight of these athletes to the people up the corporate ladder, things would change for the better of the athletes.

Now Joker, I agree with you that the private sector is not ready yet to pick up the mantle because as you correctly pointed out, probably more than 70% of business in Bahrain is either directly or indirectly owned by the government, or is totally dependent on the government for their survival, so yet, we can't accept that private enterprise to step up and sponsor these athletes, but some companies can and should: Batelco, Gulf Air, Alba, Bapco, Kanoo, Al-Moayyed, Zayani and the various other big businesses SHOULD sponsor these athletes as well as the government. And the government, as the EDB is doing already, should slowly wean itself from running the country to regulating it, once that is done then it would be the full responsibility of business to take care of this business.

5:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice Post Joker, keep it up and please bear with me :)

7:29 PM  
Blogger Cerebralwaste said...

Mahmood

Not only should Business sponsor individual athletes or teams the public in general can do so as well. How about an "ADOPT an Athlete or Sport scheme. Say a good tennis player lives in Riffa. Why couldn't Riffa "sponsor" him as a community. I assume this happens to some degree? Or insert any sport into any village but the equation, and the result stays the same doesn't it? It all helps build a sense of nationalism and pride. Very important elements in a stable society.

Curious but how are High School athletics ranked in manner of importance in Bahrain? In many cities and towns in the US High School football and basketball are a focal point of the town and plays an important part in community spirit.

8:30 PM  
Blogger The Joker said...

High school athletics are very primal. Even the sporting clubs around the country, you have three clubs that almost have decent facilities to maintain competing teams (in terms of fitness gyms, first aid, qualified coaches..etc.) Other than that, sporting clubs in the villages are nothing more than a sand football field and a pingpong table.

2:33 PM  
Anonymous Mahmood Al-Yousif said...

porting clubs in the villages are nothing more than a sand football field and a pingpong table.

That is about to change now. GOYS have signed an agreement with the Bahrain Football Federation to build 10 (yes ten!) stadiums primarily for Bahrain villages each with a capacity of about 5,000 spectators. More of this is going to happen and announced soon.

So in a short space of time, we should actually see villages producing good standard players from all over Bahrain... and that's the begining of the road to better things.

8:06 PM  
Blogger Cerebralwaste said...

I would say that is good news! Ten 5000 seat stadiums will do wonders for sports on the Island(s). Any word on the locations????????? Or is that mucho mucho hush hush?

One thing I have always noticed about Bahrain is in EVERY village I have been too I see people playing sports, riding horses or doing other outdoor activities. You don't see this on the other side of the Causeway.

8:53 PM  
Blogger The Joker said...

You know, mahmood and cerebral? Today in the paper there was an article about the MPs making fun of a suggestion to sponsor the football team should they qualify to the final round. Like a house and a car and a lump sum... come to think of it.. the atheletes did us a much bigger favor than the MPS that spent more than that amount and did nothing more than take us back (most of the time.)

I will only believe the 10 stadiums when I see them. Mind you, its election year... and eheh talk is cheap

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