Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Last weekend the Wimbledon tennis fortnight came to a tumultuous close with victory for Britain’s Andy Murray , the first British male to win there since 1936.

For his effort Murray took home £1.6m or about sh8.4b, and it is expected that with his win he can expect his earning power to jump up to $70m annually in endorsement payments.
But the real winner has to be the tournament itself.

 Last year Wimbledon managed a record £37m profit, a figure one can expect will rise this year. Since Wimbledon is run by the sport’s governing body in the UK the surplus is ploughed back into developing the sport in the country albeit with little success.

Wimbledon would make more money if they allowed more corporate sponsorship of the event – an additional $100m it is estimated, but the powers that be have chosen to forgo this to maintain the event’s unique character.

It’s that kind of farsighted thinking that has made the 236 year old event a unique branding opportunity that corporate sponsors are willing to pay top dollar for, even if they will not get as much exposure as they would have liked.

The Wimbledon Championships  have been carefully groomed into a commercially valuable product, which over the two weeks it is in play, makes more money than most companies in the region make in a year.
Back to earth.  In Uganda we see little effort – or is it too soon to say, being put into developing these kinds of sporting products.

Soccer is a case in point. The most popular sport in the nation fails week in, week out to marshall credible crowds for league games.

Rugby and basketball are showing that with a bit of marketing and aggressive youth development programs they can punch above their weight and garner growing corporate interest. They now command healthy crowds to their events – although one wonders whether even half the crowd know what’s going on the pitch or court. But it’s that kind of crowd that sponsors are gleefully looking to wave their logos in front of. These crowds appear by design rather than by accident.

They say you are not in business until you have made your first sale. The key to sustainable business is simple – to sell more and more and secondly, to make sure the incoming revenues are greater than the cost of doing business. Easier said than done of course.

As it is now apart from a few sports administrators, most are not trying to attract numbers to their sport and forget about showing a surplus.

Often the leaders of our sports associations are glad to pilfer the little monies from gate collections and expend more energy making the case for government support of sport instead of increasing their own associations capacity to generate revenues.

Government need not be involved in sport. The US, the greatest sporting nation of our time, does not have a sports ministry.

Our previous success in the Olympics in boxing,  athletics and the fact that we have one of the youngest populations in the world is proof enough that we have enough talent in the country.

What we clearly lack is the entrepreneurial capacity to harness this potential, not only for the benefit of the individual sportsmen but for the benefit of the country, to not only bring in revenue but to raise the country’s profile, bring attention to it beyond the usual poverty, disease, corruption and bombs that is our current stereotype.

Another two week event , tennis’ US Open in New York it was once estimated creates upwards of $400m of economic activity in the city during the duration of the event. The same can be said for such events as the Olympics or soccer World Cup.  The positive aura success in individual sports cannot be discounted. While Uganda continues to be known for Idi Amin, across the border in Kenya everybody knows them for their distant runners, never mind that just barely five years ago a few hundreds were killed in an orgy of blood letting that was covered by international press.

I know it’s a bit much to ask, but our sports administrators should take a long term view of their individual sports, work at building them into viable businesses or at least create bankable products – even  if it is only to increase the surface area for them to  steal from!


  1. "...even if it is only to increase the surface are for them to steal from!" But is anybody listening? Either the sports administrators are poor readers of print or they have donkeys' heads firmly placed on their shoulders. Everyone that I know of who has been involved in sports at some point in their lives has screamed out their lungs about catching them young and it makes sense when you look at all countries that produce world beaters but no one seems to listen, no one seems to care. We are all content to wait for that one stroke of luck when a Kiprotich will materialize and we ride on his/her success till the legs give way and then we start moaning about the lack of concrete, concise youth sports development programs.

    Shall we ever learn from our past and from others that have gone before us? Maybe after the Second Advent. Maybe one day we shall be blessed with leaders who can think beyond their noses and and their next arcade and genuinely invest in tapping the guaranteed riches from this gold mine.

    I love formula one to bits and I follow it religiously, sometimes too so. I do not know how many times, after a particularly thrilling race, I have fantasized about a race track in one of the suburbs! But I usually have the sense to wake up from my reverie and smile at myself.

    But I will not stop dreaming: of state of the art basketball courts with squeak clean floors, of gigantic football stadia with lights that work at night, of fully constituted rugby pitches dotting every district, of race tracks (!), of children learning, eating and breathing sport right off their mothers' breasts.

    I will dare to dream. Thanks Paul.

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