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Families, Friends, Foes – Sports & The Media

By Ikeddy Isiguzo
Media -  The formal channels of communication, formerly mostly newspapers, magazines, radio, television, films, represent the increasing and various methods of publicising events and ideas.

However, the Internet joined years ago and has totally changed the media, especially as it pertains to speed of high quality delivery for both the print and electronic media.  The new media that is the internet which aptly has made the world a global village, a concept that Canadian mass communication expert Professor  Marshall McLuhan had conceived more than 46 years ago.

The media are very important to sports, where properly applied
Leadership – The “process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task.” Definitions more inclusive of followers have also emerged. Alan Keith of Genentech states that, “Leadership is ultimately about creating a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen.” Tom DeMarco says that leadership needs to be distinguished from posturing.

Leadership remains one of the most relevant aspects of the organizational context. However, defining leadership has been challenging and definitions can vary depending on the situation. According to Ann Marie E. McSwain, Assistant Professor at Lincoln University, “leadership is about capacity: the capacity of leaders to listen and observe, to use their expertise as a starting point to encourage dialogue between all levels of decision-making, to establish processes and transparency in decision-making, to articulate their own values and visions clearly but not impose them.

Leadership is about setting and not just reacting to agendas, identifying problems, and initiating change that makes for substantial improvement rather than managing change.” – Wikipedia

Are we sports leaders? What type of leadership do we provide? How would this course improve our leadership? One of the best indicators of the quality of our sports leadership is the consistent embrace of sports events in place of sports development programmes.

Courses of this nature are meant to build leadership capacity, such that our sports leaders can have an impact in the activities, thoughts and bearings of those they lead. This course admits the importance of sports leadership, a leadership that can realise the importance of the media and use it effectively to develop sports.

Were this course a trip to the Olympic Games, there would have been no space to take the participants. If it was a football game involving the national teams, the number of those who would crave a role for themselves would spill outside this room.

These behaviours are proper reflections of our unwillingness to learn, to build our capacities to be in touch with latest trends in our trade and more importantly the verdict that for most of us, sports is not meant to be approached with seriousness.

Sports Development is often confused with sports promotion (which is what most people do). Everything that goes into the early introduction, teaching, building, and practice of sports, in a manner that the young people, learn, and understand it, first for its imperatives, as a way of life, rather than sports as merely entertainment is sports development. Sports development ties in well with education, so that the young ones can have the right aptitude and attitude to sports – and life.

I would have liked to spend some time extolling the virtues of sports. However, I think they are too well known to you to bear further repetition. I have been told that my assignment is to examine sports and the media. I threw myself at the challenge, which I also see as a way of getting all of us to take a better look at our involvement with sports.

One of the best things about sports is that you can use it for many things. You can use sports to empower the youth, get them into schools, deliver heroes, invent role models regularly, produce healthier people, create jobs, provide entertainment, mobilise people and engender unity among the populace.

The pursuit of these results demands strong investments in sports development. I have drawn relationships between investments in sports development and the results that Nigeria would get. A lot of hard work lies ahead, especially in involving others in providing the resources sports requires. I think this gathering is an open admission that we need help with developing our sports. What help we get would depend on many factors, among them, how far all the parties involved are willing and ready to make changes.

My observation is that Governments  (which most of our sports leaders represent in various forms) do not have a healthy respect for the place of sports. There is hardly any difference with the attitude of individuals and organisations that associate themselves with sports.  They also fail to realise that the Local Government Councils have major roles to play in sports development. The closeness of the Councils to the people places them in a strategic position to explore the values of sports.

For this to be possible, the Federal Government and States would have to work in concert with the Councils, schools, as well as businesses and individuals who would want to contribute to sports development. The tasks ahead are enormous enough to accommodate any number of interested partners. It is the duty of the authorities to map out the implementation policies that would suit their intentions.

I would like to use this opportunity to draw attention to the complexity of sports development and the growing threats to it. People are poor and cannot eat well, the schools are managed by poorly motivated teachers, who given the chance, would be doing something else. The schools do not have adequate facilities for sports and finally, many of the pupils who should be in schools are on the streets for reasons that vary from inability to pay fees, to having to enter the labour market early enough to take some of the burdens of the family off the parents.

.To be concluded on May 21
Presented at the IOC Solidarity Leadership Course on 21 April 2010 @ the NOC Conference Room, Lagos
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