CaribZone Commentary: Aubrey Campbell –Wednesday, April 27th

Good day folks. It’s another day and a most important weekend ahead of us. No doubt you are already in a Philadelphia frame of mind because this weekend’s 122nd  staging of the prestigious Penn Relays Carnival in track & field athletics, begins the official countdown to Rio de Janeiro.

Just 100 days away, folks!

Starting today thru’ Saturday evening, in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection – whatever that means – Brand Jamaica, in a kaleidoscope of colors and varying degrees of temperament, will take over Philadelphia and own it, feet first!

Our sporting ambassadors, juniors, seniors, chaperones, every single one of them, will transform the Ben Franklin Stadium at the UPenn,  into the National Stadium of Jamaica, further authenticating what the world already knows, that the Black-Gold-Green standard has officially replaced the Red-White-Blue, star spangled standard of the USA, as the number one manufacturer of sprint talent.

Biometrics at its golden best!

It is not over ambitious to say here that every major collegiate program in these United States is influenced by the talent from ‘yard’ at some level! Google it!

And so, as our athletes go off to the races this weekend, we wish them God’s speed, literally! Even with the very best of the best, opting for more development and conditioning, the announced candidates/alternates – and I’m being careful not to use the word ‘replacement’ – will be equal to the task, having proven themselves so many times over!

But while the 60,000 plus spectators who journey from far and near to pack the stadium on Saturday’s final day, will leave satisfied that the medium term future of Jamaica’s athletics program is on good footing, there are rumblings on the periphery that are hard to ignore because it’s part and parcel of the package that is the Penn Relays Experience!

There is nothing like the Penn Relays. It’s a sports carnival. There is food, fun, reunion of families and friends, off the track entertainment, a nice weekend get-away vibe and all that, but nothing beats the triumph and the tribulations on the track.

The victor and the vanquished are all celebrated and lauded. That’s the love and affection, the beauty of ‘Philly’ at this time of year!

The seemingly endless parade of bodies, sculptured, toned, bikini –clad or semi-clothed, the tall, the short, the fat or those just satisfying their bucket list, no other carnival comes close, not even Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn; Port of Spain, Trinidad.

Rio de Janeiro is a different cat in the hat!

I also maintain that it’s the best coming together of Jamaicans in the overseas (64th) constituency that I have seen so far since moving here from Montego Bay, in 1991. But what bothers me is that the powers that be, those in the Diaspora, charged with the care and concerns of foreigners, continue to come up short, way too short.

And that is why, too many, with the exception of the outstanding performances of our athletic ambassadors, Jamaica’s potential at the games is being short circuited.

I am one of those who firmly believe that there should more tangible ‘give backs’. The reciprocity is not there and if it is, it’s not being reported. The head of Penn Relays Organizing Committee was lavishly accommodate at the ISSA National Scholastic Championship – ‘Champs’, yet schools coming here have a hell of a time trying to find suitable accommodation.

What this has done is to create an uneven running surface for corporate Jamaica, so much so that ‘ambush marketing’ is the new buzz word. Everybody wants exclusivity at the athlete’s expense. Do we know how many of these athletes go to the ‘next level’ after high school? 20 out of 2000, maybe!

And we sit here and wonder why the crime rate is so high. Think…used and refused! Does that resonate?

Even here in the USA, persons are holding back because they are not sure..? And when you ask, the first response is…’too much politics’ and not necessarily of the partisan orange or green type. Any system or stricture that seems too over-bearing, is deemed political…!

Are you with me, so far?

Yes , there is Team Jamaica Bickle, yes, there is Irwin Clare, Sr., but sometimes, often  times, the lone voice crying from the wilderness, falls on deaf and/or uncaring ears! 20+ years in, Team Jamaica Bickle should have its headquarters at the Jamaican Consulate in New York City or at the Embassy in Washington, DC. This way the support mechanism can be more structured, so that it’s not because you know Mr. Clare and you like him, for you to contribute to the cause.

Brand Jamaica, through sports is the very best thing we have going for us now, for a long time. Jamaicans are spending money at ‘Penns’ and profiting from the exposure as well but something is wrong when the big spenders ignore established protocols to have a presence at the oldest and grandest relays carnival in the country!

Our Athletes, Our Ambassadors….To dah Worl’.

That’s today’s conversation. You have the last word, as usual. Share your thoughts while you think on it.



  1. Let me get this straight. You want the government of Jamaica to give office space to Team Jamaica Bickle as the Ja Governments efforts to promote Jamaica as the sports capital of the world. You also want the people from Jamaica who live in New York and Pennsylvania and surrounding states and in fact all over the USA to get together and work with the Jamaican Government and Team Jamaica Bickle to provide suitable accommodations for the athletes when they arrive for the Penn Relays. If that is what you are saying I agree whole heartedly . The next step would be to mobilize those efforts to make them come true. Any ideas?

  2. I always make a contribution to our Athletes going to Penn Relay, however small it might be. But for many years, I questioned our Athletes participation, in this Multi-Million Dollar Annual Happening and quite frankly, no one has shown me the reciprocity! Who are the real winners? If we keep doing what we are doing, we will continue to get more of the same. Who really negotiate on behalf of our Athletes and us, who makes our little contributions to a just cause? I used to think that the brightest minds among us, was to be found in the Diaspora, but I take that back! Marcus Garvey and the rest of our Courageous Ancestors, must be turning in their graves, at what we have done to the blueprint they left us!…”Up you Mighty Race, We can Accomplish what We will” Marcus Garvey…….If only we had the will!!!..”One Love”

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