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  Track And Field

Sports & Music

 
I'd absolutely love to go to the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival one day. From all accounts, it's a world-class event in the grand tradition of Reggae Sunsplash.

Only trouble for me is that it clashes with track season. When music lovers head for Trelawny for their taste of sublime international song, I'm usually on the other side of Jamaica watching the next generation of Usain Bolts and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryces run in Morant Bay.

Typically, the Festival's big climax clashes headlong with the Howard Jackson Relays in Morant Bay, the Big Shot Invitational at St Hugh's and the Central Hurdles and Relays in Spanish Town. I've been going to Morant Bay for years so this year, I went to Central Hurdles and Relays and the Big Shot.

I heard that John Legend was great at the festival this year and I would have loved to have seen him.

The worst thing about the track-jazz clash is that my travels most often take me past Trelawny to Montego Bay for the Milo Western Relays before the wound has healed. That really hurts. As I made that trek on February 9 to watch stars like Fraser-Pryce, Asafa Powell, hurdles ace Hansle Parchment and Olympic finalist Kaliese Spencer, I wondered why I had to suffer like this.

Sports and music are the most powerful Jamaican promotional tools and I'm not sure we've done enough to bring them together. Imagine a weekend with both jazz and a world-class athletics meet. With Jazz at the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium, Catherine Hall would be the perfect location for the meet.

At the relays, Asafa anchored MVP to a world-leading 4x100-metre time of 38.63 seconds, with UTech not far behind at 38.80. Shelly-Ann did a fine job in the women's event. After that, and the fine high-school action, I'd happily head for my hotel room for a shower and a change of clothes and head out to watch John Legend.

In reality, none of these two fine events can easily change dates. Jazz is firmly fixed in the last full week in January and the relays are set on the second Saturday in February. Even so, it just seems to me that a super weekend of sports and music has simply got to be something that Jamaica can do.

Maybe I've got my geography wrong. Maybe the idea might work in Negril if a big-name reggae concert is twinned with the Reggae Marathon in December. Better yet, this new concert could come the day after the Jamaica Invitational in May. Either way, I'd be having my cake and eating it too.

To tell you the truth, I like my original idea most. The Western Relays sometimes fall on Valentine's Day and I see the sports-music tourism marketers having a field day.

Best bet

Beyond my preference, the best bet might be to have this concert when the Jamaica Invitational joins the IAAF Diamond League. So after we watch Usain and Shelly-Ann take on Tyson Gay and Carmelita Jeter, our top singers can take the stage and hit us with music.

That's a package deal I'd pay for.

As anyone who plans special events will tell you, there's many a slip twixt cup and lip. I'm nonetheless hopeful. Whether you want it in Negril right after the marathon, in Montego Bay twinned with the relays or in the capital Diamond League style, it's a winner worth working towards.

I don't have to spell out the economic benefits or the exposure to be gained by Jamaica or the companies involved. It would be another chance to show our brilliant hospitality while showcasing our sports and music. We've got the experience in hosting international track and field since 1952, with big names in music coming here at least since Reggae Sunsplash started in the 1970s.

The time has come to put music and sports together. I ask but one small favour. Please invite John Legend.

MUSIC LOVER HUBERT LAWRENCE is the author of Champs 100: A Century of Jamaican High School Athletics 1910-2010.

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