By Dixon Okello
Uganda rugby fans recently spoke out about the abuse of office by Uganda Rugby Union officials. National players, were owed millions in unpaid training and match allowances after major international games against Kenya, Zimbabwe and Namibia. This had greatly affected team performances. Under intense pressure, URU officials lost face and paid up the allowances.
If sports journalists know something is wrong in the sports federation (for example Uganda Rugby Union) and say nothing about it, then they are failing on their job. These duties will sometimes include a requirement for journalists to reveal bad practices in sport like lack of accountability, investigate abuses of power and expose wrong-doing. That is, or should be, part of the nature of their work.
Journalists should not be intimidated by power or influenced by special interests, sponsors, advertisers or news sources. The independence of journalism ought not be compromised by conflicts of interest. Instead, journalists should ideally report what they believe to be the facts, not what someone pays them to say, unless they are planning a career move to the PR or advertising world!
So, it is vital that we never lose the love and essence of sport, the joy and innocence of sport, the pure excitement of the unscripted drama of sport, however intense and sophisticated the competition becomes. We must work assiduously to preserve the beauty, integrity and unique characteristics and appeal of sport…..and no-one can do that more or better than sports journalists.