Tuesday, July 20, 2010

If we build it, will they come?

Distressing images of relief efforts still failing to provide hope in Haiti bring to mind that which could easily provide jobs, even elite ones, and a quick source of revenue for an underdeveloped resource in Haiti: its people.

Reading an article about Pierre Garcon of the Indianapolis Colts worrying about his family brought an obvious question to mind: How many world-class athletes must there be in Haiti who simply have been afforded the opportunity to develop and showcase their skills? Certainly, much has been made of the constant flow of Major Leaguers from its island neighbor, the Dominican Republic. Similarly, Jamaica has produced stunning track stars, why not Haiti?

If you build it, they will come!

Perhaps the Baseball should consider how rapidly baseball helped revive a war-ravaged Japan. The ability of MLB (and perhaps some colleges as well) to set up facilities rapidly, providing scouts and trainers should produce some needed good publicity for MLB while sprouting a farm system that would have long-range benefits as well. Why not a major league-style ballpark somewhere in the island’s interior built almost entirely by their unemployed and under-entertained?

Think of the jobs, the good will, and the re-integration of baseball that may result. And while this U.S. government-subsidized monopoly begins to understand its obligation to reach out, perhaps the NBA, NFL, and MLS may see the light as well. Give people some hope for the future and some jobs along the way. Provide as many athletes as is practical with educational visas and bilingual support, perhaps in some of the small towns and rural areas in the United States where they could bring their families with them, sponsored by local churches and civic organizations.

Such controlled immigration could dramatically re-vitalize the Haitian economy, providing immediate jobs and helping to build a future with the obscene amounts of money our subsidized sports institutions generate.

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