Mindset, preparation and branding.
That was the focus of feature speaker Kibwe Trim, the USA-based T&T businessman and former basketball professional player who was the feature speaker of the Sport Industry TT 2020, the fifth edition of the annual event at the Hyatt Regency yesterday.
Entitled: “Sports is big business —Towards a Viable Commercial model for Trinidad and Tobago Sport Industry.” Trim made the observations about a transformation in the approach to these three topics that could begin the process of making the potential local-based sporting industry.
On the topic of mindset, Trim said that unfortunately, there is a cultural mindset in this country where sports is just a game.
He said huge sporting teams generate huge incomes, like the LA Lakers (US$395 million in 2017/18) and the LA Chargers ($375 million for the same period) while an amateur university team, Duke University, earns US $25 to $30 million per year.
The entrepreneur, who won a basketball championship during his stint in Okinawa, Japan, related a conversation he had with a former primary school teacher five years into his pro career and who was catching up with him and recalling his academic prowess. Expectantly and enthusiastically, Trim said, she had asked what he was up to and when the six-foot-11-inch former St Mary’s College student replied he was playing basketball, he said the mood of the interaction changed.
”I was from in San Juan and at that point, I was probably making a couple hundred thousand dollars a year and life was pretty okay,” Trim said, adding she expected him to become a lawyer, doctor or engineer. She said: “Well if you are happy, I am happy,”
The graduate of Sacred Heart University in Connecticut, as a first team All-American academic — one of five such basketball student-athletes in the nation — said that was the kind of mindset he recalls locally as far as sports were concerned.
He said if the country is thinking of making a commercially viable product of sport, the first aspect that needs to change is the mindset.
Trim said preparation was the other factor needing improvement and said the entire approach towards athlete and administrative preparation had to be professionalised to highly influence their ability to win and compete and offer consumers a better product.
He also commented on branding.
“Your brand is how sporting organisations identify themselves,” he emphasised.
Trim said organisations spend millions and spare no expense with their marketing departments to ensure their brand is refined to communicate the right message to their investors, sponsors and consumer base, both from an individual and organisation standpoint.
Trim awarded two scholarships to brothers Israel and Zion Nicholas of Pleasantville West as part of his Dream Chaser International Foundation, awarded to athletes who achieve high standards in both their sport and another discipline such as arts, entertainment or sport.
Trim, who runs an events and promotions company called LA Lime, based in Los Angeles, was the keynote speaker and the highlight among several topics discussed yesterday.
Those topics included: “Sports is a high profile global business - Is it similar to other industries? What makes it unique?”; “Entrepreneurs; Building for the Future - The Movers and Shakers”; Cutting Edge Technology in this digital age - opportunities and threats” and “Mindset of the entrepreneur - businessperson vs entrepreneur”.