Champs schedule still being evaluated
In 2003, the organisers of ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and and Girls’ Athletics Championships introduced a schedule of events that made Champs Friday a carnival of athletics not to be missed. Another change was made last year to boost attendance on the...
In 2003, the organisers of ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and and Girls’ Athletics Championships introduced a schedule of events that made Champs Friday a carnival of athletics not to be missed. Another change was made last year to boost attendance on the meet’s first two days. This change will be under the microscope when the 2023 renewal begins on March 28.
The 2003 change had the 100 metres finals on Friday evening. With the sprints dear to Jamaica, that block of high speed pulled fans into the National Stadium in droves. Last year, to spread attendance, the 100m finals were moved to Wednesday evening and overlapping doubles were unravelled to reduce the risk to athletes. Champs meet manager Anthony Davis says the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) is keeping its eye on attendance trends with the new schedule. “The feedback from the coaches is exceptionally positive. They like the new schedule and all the other stakeholders are happy about it,” he reported on February 3.
“Some of the spectators may find it challenging,” he continued, “especially if you’re out of town, to come in to catch the 100m, return to the rural areas and then come back for Friday and Saturday, because some of them would have come in and overnight for Friday and Saturday.”
Davis added: “We have noticed that there is a fall off on Friday. However, remember we’re just coming out of COVID-19. We were doing it for the first time so we don’t have sufficient basis to evaluate it. So the discussion is that we have to let it run a little longer.”
Many long-time Champs fans missed the 2021 renewal which had attendance restricted to athletes and officials. In addition, it is well known that others stayed away in 2022 with health concerns because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s unclear if the attendance dip was caused by the schedule change or the pandemic.
“ISSA suffered a loss last year in the number of persons attending on Friday and it wasn’t made up on the Wednesday. But the other things I wanted to point out is, crucially, there was always this discussion about what can we do to make the first two days more attractive,” Davis said.
The meet manager ended with a call to the fans. “My appeal to the fans is it’s in line with international standards and we are appealing to them to support because it gives the athletes a better opportunity if you’re running 100m, 200m or any double, really,” Davis concluded.