Friday, 8 June 2012

Mediocrity thriving in Kenyan Sport

The beautiful world of sport has in the last couple of weeks come under simmering moments for mainly the wrong reasons. While some may say that it is not good focussing on bad news, it is precisely the reason that there needs to be a voice of dissent to prick our collective common conscience.
At times when you take a cursory look at Kenyan sport, you might quit while at it because of the many failings and handicaps that keep creeping in. But on a wider level it is a fair ride for most sports. But why should we settle for fair or average? Take a look at some of these cases to stage our argument;

  • Athletics - the still unclear circumstances of Olympic pre-qualifications for the 5000m & 10,000m ( both men and women) being held in Prefontaine, the other dubious debacle by a German journo about Kenyan legendary athletes doping;
  • Boxing - the lack of organisation and structure that will see Kenya take ONLY ONE boxer to the Olympic Games. This sole boxer is said to be self-funding for training preparations for the Games while Kenya boxing officials bicker & go for each others' necks in the boardroom;
  • Cricket - the game is at its lowest ebb in years and to further precipitate the situation, the CEO resigned sometime last year hot on the heels of the national team coach quitting;
  • Football- the (mis)management of the national team players and selection for national duty, the ever-changing, ever-mysterious shirt 'sponsorship' which is never tackled by FKF officials, the loss of corporate sponsorship for the youth development tournaments (Sakata Ball);
  • Rugby - dismal performance by national 7s team as well as mixed basket of fortunes for the 15s team. The uncouth handling of the national team's technical bench, and now unresolved issue of the national coach;
  • Motorsport - what ought to be Kenya's première motor-sports event slowly becoming just another folklore, thanks to poor visibility and lack of sustained, committed PR from its officials. If the Safari Rally is really hoping to make it back to the WRC, in no uncertain terms, can you be sure we've a long way to go to achieve this. 
Rotting Apples
There are many scenarios that we would look at but let's tackle these one that come to mind right now.  A common denominator is seen in all these sporting events. Mediocre sports management and leadership! Incompetent sports officials who are just out to line their pockets without any tangible benefit accruing to the sports they manage. Others are just stooges for their political and simply proxies for unknown and hidden agendas from their masters. Time and time again, we have called out for running out of town of such sports officials but alas its is just a sweet song sung.
From poor preparations for both club and national teams, unpaid player allowances and disappearance of funds once monies are committed by sponsors, to un-contracted technical team personnel, and poor revenue streams to engage sponsors for current and future projects. Let's not talk about poor infrastructure or non-existence of some of it too! 
Another common aspect is the lack of substantive reporting and coverage to reprimand these sports officials and call out the rotten elements. Many a sports editorials in our local media houses do not have the wherewithal to proper question the wrong acts that our sports officials engage in. Oh NO, we're NOT throwing blanket condemnations over all media houses and personalities some of who must be singled out for a job well done. 

Mass v/s Mediocre
But if you take a critical look at some of the elements we have in the sports editorial departments, they are either on the take from some of the sports officials, acting as the public relations people on print or other Press. Or they are 'pens and mikes for hire' constantly waiting for the next big story from a sport, but quickly killing it or completely blacking out questionable elements in sports management. Rumour has it that envelopes and mobile money payments are the order of the day in some of the Press briefings that happen in certain sports organisations. Conflict of interest is another issue that needs to be considered here.
In these times of social media and other online platforms, information dissemination is easily democratised and major media outlets are feeling the heat of these robust ways of breaking news,comprehensive and unbiased coverage. But these outlets are THREATS to traditional journalism some of who have refused to recognise its potent. Ask many sports organisations about accreditation of online or social media practitioners and they give it a wide berth.
The mass or mainstream media is supposed to be the people's watchdog or voice of the people. Take the slogans bandied around by for instance the newspapers ' Kenya's Boldest Newspaper' , 'Fresh, independent and different', and other fanciful slogans. How many dare live up to their words? How many in their sports editorial call things are they are? 
Thus mediocre sports officials X mediocre sport coverageMediocrity2

Call out the bad elements in sport people! Tell it as it is ! This is the 21st century!

If Kenyan sports scene is to change and move to another level, surely we must get rid of such acts and go beyond the average. We should start by self-cleansing our sports organisations and our 'mouth-pieces' too. Before that, we should forget world-class performances becoming common occurrences and forget commercialising sports and maybe kiss our sporting heritage goodbye too! 

In Other News:
Mr. Minister, you recently talked about tabling an Anti-Doping Bill to counter the claims made about Kenya's athletes doping. Methinks the Sports Bill is more urgent than that! History shall judge your legacy very harshly for missing this opportunity to change the face of sport in Kenya...

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