The sports season is back for many, here i’m speaking for the majority of the football fans, with the return of the European football leagues and champions league football, the opening weekend of our national league went without notice to majority of these fans, which left me pondering and asking;
Why is less attention given to our local sports disciplines?
Over the year’s (two and a half) that i’ve reported on sports. I’ve come to notice a growing and disturbing trend in the neglect in reporting our own issues.
Mid this year a sports editor and a friend of mine Hamza Nkutu wrote an opinion article where he highlighted the issue.
I for one would not agree more on many of the issues raised but having worked in all forms of media in Rwanda, i again had to ask myself what i and some of my colleagues have done to help the state of sports improve in the country. What is our contribution as journalists to the growth of sports in Rwanda?
For one we have the ability to more or less guide (i hate to use the word influence) our readers/listeners make decisions depending on what we put in front of them, air out to them or even show them, but do we even know this?
More often than not, when one tunes in to any of the leading sports shows in the country the amount of time given to critical coverage of our own sports is far less than that given to what we call international sports activities. And even when we do so, it’s usually predictable, a bit of the national football league here, volleyball there, cycling here, a bit of basketball at times and once in a while the paralympic heroics of Cliff Muvunyi.
But why is this so?There are many factors that this can be attributed to but my major concern is one that I have personally fallen victim to and it tends to be the face of so many media houses in the country,LAZINESS.
A few years back as i started out on radio, i was lucky (i don’t believe in luck) enough to be part of a great cast of sports presenters at arguably the most listened to sports show in the country. The main hosts of this show enjoy popstar status in the going by the number of fans that line up for a handshake or photo opportunity when they get the chance to. So i saw this as a great opportunity to learn from these two legendary gentlemen. I as a a person starting out wanted to know how they gather their news, what they base on to analyse situations, come up with suggestions and call for certain reforms within different sports organisations that would be unlucky to be on the wrong side of their thoughts.
But disappointing is one word i’ve come to often use when asked about the state of sports journalism in Rwanda. I spend most of my weekends even weekday evenings at either a court, stadium, oval or pitch depending on what’s on my sports must watch line up for the weekend or evening and that’s where this displeasure started to come into play.
Growing up as a child i emulated the likes of Pedro Pinto, Carol Tshabalala, Thomas Mlambo, Mark Ssali , Don Ridell, i could go on and on but i didn’t know the secret to what made them stand out. Just like the popstar presenters in Rwanda, my idols could and can still give you a 360 degree of sports coverage but one thing surely stands out from what they did/ do that my popstar journalist friends currently ignore.
The likes of Pedro Pinto and Tshabalala’s of this world are the kind of journalists that t you are going to find watching every sports event, critically putting down notes and taking their time to understand the discipline, in contrast our own popstar friends will rarely be seen at a sports event, thus depending on third hand information which they tend to air out to the unsceptical idol worshipping fans.
More often than note i’ve seen my colleagues in the industry make suggestions based on hear say (having not been at the games) and this is what the masses receive as information. The inability for a journalist to go out to the field and collect information treads to them having less content to give their readers/ listeners or viewers, thus filling the void by sticking to reading the foreign press material in their mediums. if that is not plain laziness then I’m sorry for expecting too much.