The enactment of the Sports Act 2013 and subsequent adoption of the National Sports Policy were meant to bring in new ways of running the sector in the country. This came after the country had witnessed corruption, and mismanagement and waste in sports over several years. The new legal regime was meant to assist the country harness sports as natural resources.
Thus what happened in Rio, following the revelations of massive mismanagement of the team and related processes, which though did not hinder our brilliant sportspeople from doing the country proud, is a testimony of failure to implement the Sports Act to the latter or pure impunity at its very best.
The government through the Sports Act and Sports Policy that provides for open, transparent and democratic management of sports where members, resources and equipment speared for sports are well known must act to save the sector.
The intention and interest was for the government to mainstream sports in national development including Vision 2030 in general and more especially in those sectors that are working on poverty reduction. In both the Act and the Policy, it’s acknowledged that sports are a big time business, which must be handled well for the good of not only the country, but individual sportspeople.
The Sports Act provides a lot of institutions and administrative structures that would otherwise cushion the sports sector to be run the way it’s happening now. It’s important that we as a country ask ourselves hard questions including do we have competent people managing our sports docket, does the legal regime provide a way of running sports in a professional manner and not through cartels and who runs sports in this country?
The Sports Act provides for the establishment of several institutions including the Sports Kenya, National Sports Fund, Sports Academy of Kenya, and Registrar of Sports among others. These offices and institutions are given mandate to streamline sports management in the country. The Sports fund is for example required to ensure no sportsperson misses the facilitation to represent the country, so issues of missing tickets should not arise.
In addition and more urgent is that, we must address the state of sports journalism in the country. While the sector has the potential to make serious contribution to national development, the coverage has remained personalised and individual based, with a lot of professional breaches noted in the manner of the articles carried in both print and broadcast media.
We lack regular serious in-depth and informative stories, on both the processes and developments in on sports in the country, which is necessary on such critical industry. Sports is a big business, is critical part of the Vision 2030 and the country is talking or promoting sports tourism, thus needs serious oversight.
With weak training, mentoring and professionalism base, sports coverage has remained peripheral in most media houses, thus mentoring and professional growth for journalists in the country is a big challenge.
(Bwire works at the Media Council of Kenya and has taught sports writing for many years)