Saturday, October 2, 2010

Some Misinforming ‘informants Of Sports’

It is bad enough for those who do not have access to information because they do not know how to access such information even though they know what value it will be for them. Their cases are like those who know that there are ‘resources’ beneath the surface upon which they dwell that could be of huge economical benefits to them; but could not access it because of technological know-how or other restrictive reasons. It is even worse for those who do not even know what information is because of ignorance. Though they are not at fault, they trample upon the ‘resources’ beneath them without realising what it is or how useful it could be to them. However, the worst of the lot are those few people who are the ‘supposed’ custodians of information because of their knowledge of its importance, accessibility and dissemination but out of sheer laxity or lack of ‘cranium’ abilities; they choose to misinform both the aware and un-aware audiences. Of course their cases are like those who are aware of the usefulness of the resources underneath them, have the accessibility to these resources but misuse or abuse the resources.

You see, of all the audience that gets information from any media source; it is the unaware who suffers most. Why? Well because they take in whatever they are told hook line and sinker mostly without corroborating the information. They are fed anything like a helpless baby who eats whatever is given to it by whomever. Let us not forget that the people behind the black ink on white that we read either online or in the newspapers are humans like ourselves who have ideas that could be sitting within fantasies or imaginations. Often times fantasies and imaginations are lofty and lazy traits exhibited by writers; which are often punctured and soured by realities. So when writers in their fantasies concoct a tale or two to serve the public, it is the duty of their Editors to put a reality check on such fantasies especially when it concerns fact based reporting.

In the today’s World of internet highways, information and mis-information fly everywhere and we all are sometimes guilty of buying whatever suits our fantasies online. Like a case when one Arsenal fan wrote of Thiery Henry’s seemingly decline in football fortunes because he transferred this summer to the Major League Soccer (MLS) outfit, New York Red Bulls after he had left Arsenal for Barcelona. The article ‘typically’ appropriated the judgement to sell Henry by Arsene Wenger 3 years ago as a sound decision because Henry nowadays cannot match the lofty heights of his Arsenal days and Wenger spotted that 3 years ago to allow him leave . It further went on to link Wenger’s sales of Edu, Vieira, Hleb and Flamini as reasons of justification. The report understandably, was massively skewed and sentimental towards Arsenal and its teeming supporters. It went further to deify Wenger in a general football context rather than the usual context of Arsenal’s World. Agreed Wenger was right to do away with dissenting players who wanted to move on and he sure cashed in on those moves. But as in the whole case, the author should have balanced the report with the core reasons why these players left and; their achievements away from Arsenal as compared to what Arsenal achieved after they had gone. Then we would be able to assess the facts and make our judgements as audience and readers. Henry was reported to be hugely limited with a serial back pain even whilst at Arsenal. He probably looked at his playing achievements and thought the policy at Emirates might not help him achieve his desired Champions League laurel so he moved to Barcelona. Statistics and history showed his decision was very right to leave Arsenal as at the time he left in 2007; and if he now found the rigours of European League to be too much, one should easily understand his decision to cross the Atlantic for New York. Thiery Henry is quite fulfilled as a Professional Footballer. He won League titles in 3 Countries in Europe, the European Championship and the World Cup as well as the Champions League. Of note is that he won the same amount of laurels won in 8 years of football in England in just 3 seasons of football in Spain, scoring 35 goals in 80 games ( better than his earliest career records at Monaco of 105 games and 20 goals). Better for Henry is also the fact that while he accumulated more ‘feathers to his football hat’ at Barcelona, Arsenal have not won nothing since 2007. To crown it all he ranks 33rd amongst the greatest ever footballers according to the list of the Association of Football Statisticians

Sure we all have sentiments as humans and football is a very difficult issue to discuss or write about without showing these sentiments. But when the Medium of which we chose to write our reports is deemed as neutral; then proper care should be taken as not to be seen as biased. Henry Winters of the Daily Telegraph wrote a piece a day after Jermaine Defoe of Tottenham Hotspurs used his hand to control the ball to score a pivotal goal in the encounter against Young Boys of Switzerland in the 2010/11 Champions League Qualifier. He wondered why Defoe did not get the Thiery Henry treatment from the Press with the hindsight on Thiery Henry’s outcry. He even pointed out that some English or British Commentators of the match “chuckled” after replay showed Defoe controlled the ball with his hand before firing in the 2nd goal. Yet they were the ones who led the campaign to slaughter Theiry Henry following last year’s game in Paris against Ireland Republic.

I want to believe that an outfit like a Media House that pays wages to its staff for serving information to the populace should at least have an Editor and a Proof reader to validate the authenticity of stories or report and also correct tenses. I do also want to believe that a big outfit like the BBC should have at least gotten their facts right when they reported Egypt as the first African team to defeat Italy’s National team in the Confederations Cup last year; whereas Zambia defeated Italy 4-0 in Seoul 88 Olympics back in the days when National Teams were still allowed to play Olympic Football Tournaments. Worst still was the NTA’s (Nigeria Television Authority) repeated scrolling of the report that a recent friendly match between South Africa and Ghana ended 2-1 instead of 1-0. The worst cases in Nigeria are the so called or self styled ‘Football Encyclopaedias’. Rarely do they string facts together as they churn out info filled with fantasies rather than realities. They discuss football issues without qualitative examples and they often times do not seek improvement of delivery. Because there are no regulatory bodies to monitor, evaluate and reward proper sports casting in Nigeria; does not mean mediocrity should rule the airwaves. Someone once said the outcome of a match would either be a “draw, defeat or victory”. One wonder what other outcome should be expected of a match other than draw, win, or lose? A ‘clown’ on ITV Abuja’s Global Sports kept hammering on why Nigeria require a Coach with the “Mourinho tactics” each time the issue of Nigeria’s Coach or how Nigeria should play comes up. He never considers the cost of his demands nor even the reality that how many National Teams do have the luxury of a ‘Mourinho minded Tactical Manager’? Even Portugal, Mourinho’s Country of birth cannot presently enjoy the luxury of his tactics.

Such are the nightmares some of the audience are being subjected to by several Sportscasters. Mitchel Obi the veteran Sports Journalist yesterday in his Sports Extra Programme on AIT ridiculed India not only because of the shambles they have put in place for hosting the 19th Edition of the Commonwealth Games but also by calling India “Impossible India” instead of the “Incredible India” slogan we see on their advert to boost tourism. This was despite the fact that, the information was not necessary and useful for the presentation at hand. It was outrightly done out of ignorance and the inability to think right. i.e how can a Country call itself “impossible” through its own campaign? When you wake up on any morning and tune your radio to Brila FM. You will be awed by the several Larry Izamuje clones who despite having microphones at their disposals always attempt to damage people’s eardrums all in the name presenting sports information. The awfulness continues when the presentations comes in dodgy Western accents that are completely alien to Nigerian culture.

The worst of the lot in Nigeria I am afraid is NTA’s Tunde Orebiyi of the BON studios which aired the just concluded World Cup in South Africa and currently, some of Saturday’s EPL matches through AIT. Tunde Orebiyi occurs to viewers most times absentminded. He would return to half time Studios of live games giving the wrong scoreline (no exaggeration). Last week, in the Champions League match between Manchester United and Rangers, he called the Scottish outfit “Rangers International” (that is the name of Enugu Rangers) whilst using the term “Glasgow” more than once during the process of questioning his Guest Analysts. He would look at the sheet of paper in front of him and still finds the pronunciations difficult. He mostly cuts a picture of someone very unprofessional whose only business with football should be just by watching.

Again just yesterday, an online football website, titled its report on last Wednesday’s Barca’s victory over Sporting Gijon as “Villa fires Barcelona to their first win of the Season”. Logically, the heading was wrong on two fronts and could have been right on a front had it been reported according to its fact. The first essentially is that yesterday’s victory wasn’t Barca’s first victory of the Season as they have beaten Racing Satander, Athletico Madrid and Panathinaikos prior to that game. Secondly, it wasn’t Barca’s first home victory of the Season because they defeated Panathinaikos in the Nou Camp 2 weeks ago in a Champions League match. Rather it was Barca’s first home victory of the season in La Liga. There are clear definitions to follow if a writer wants to sensationalize a report or article. They also said Villa’s goal was his first for Barcelona meanwhile it was actually his third. Professionalism cannot be bought by any individual but it can be perfected or attained to the very best level if the commitment is there. Mistakes are permissible as human beings, but when mistakes become persistent because of poor planning and lazy fact referencing; then it becomes an issue of gross ineptitude. Effort is all that is required.


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