1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Historically, sports have been with man as he advanced with time. It may not be wrong to say that every sport exhibited in a society reflects the way of living of that society. Thus, each society has its traditional sports through which they communicate to anyone who wishes to see their culture. Illustrating this, Coakley (2009,) stated, “In cultures where cooperative relationships are highly valued and necessary for group survival, competing with others for rewards is likely to be seen as disruptive and even immoral”. Therefore, such societies would engage in sports that are not competitive and which according to Coakley (2009,) would be geared towards “achieving a tie to end a game”.
In Nigeria, our way of living revolves around competing for the best. Thus, our traditional sports involve searching for a winner in a competitive way and rewarding the winner with prestige, title, property or even marriage to the daughter of a monarch. Some of our traditional sports, according to Onifade (2012) include hunting, running, acrobatics, horse racing, jumping and wrestling. The information presented up to this point indicates the relationship between sports and human culture. Thus, sports, according to Beck and Bosshart (2003,) “provide reliable mirrors of societies. They reflect social values that can extend from individual values like discipline, asceticism, and self-control to collective values like sportsmanship and fairness, and generally accepted values like the belief in effort and productivity, the advantage of competition, and—following the logic of capitalism—the survival of the fittest”.
The interdependency of sports and human culture was used by the British in all their colonies to introduce their sports which are known as “modern sports”. Accordingly, the white man’s (British colonial masters) arrival in Nigeria brought about the introduction of their modern sports (like football) and other ideologies (religion, education etc.), Onifade (2003). This was in line with Ligon’s (2007) statement when she noted that the advent of African football could be traced to European arrival and colonization.
According to Giulianotti and Armstrong (2004) as cited by her, it was first introduced by the British in South Africa in the 1860’s.
Following the spread of modern sports like football in all parts of Africa by the
British in their quest for colonization or adventurism, football was said to have arrived in Nigeria earlier than 1914, Ehizojie and Odogun (1987) as cited by Ligon (2007).
The newly introduced modern sports like football began to overshadow our local sports which, according to Onifade (2003 ) were possible through the efforts of the missionary schools, European clubs and military clubs. However, the knowledge of these sports required privileged contacts with them like attending their schools. Nevertheless, those who didn’t have such privilege (like those who couldn’t afford education) learnt the game by emulating the privileged ones as they engaged in such sports (Ligon 2007).
Following the diffusion of modern sports in Nigeria, many structured football leagues began to spring up. Presenting how they sprang up, Onifade (2003) noted that as modern sports advanced in Nigeria, many sports associations like football associations started emerging in the 1940s. Another scholar Ligon (2007,) opined that “crowds of locals would gather to watch British soldiers play football during the Boer war….Young schoolboys in Nigeria kicked around mango seeds emulating the British expatriates who played in their leisure time……Once African schoolboys grew with kicking the ball, structured leagues sprang up in urban centres”.
The emergence of football professional league in Nigeria came as a result of bad performance of Nigeria footballers at international level. Rahaman (2012) in his article titled “about the league”, at the official site of the Nigeria National League (NNL) stated, in 1990, after several years of contemplation and agitation for professional football to be introduced in Nigeria, following dismal performances in international engagements. For example, when Nigeria failed to qualify for the world cup finals in Argentina in 1978, and Spain in 1982. The then Honourable Minister of Social Development, Youth and Sports, Air Vice Marshal Bayo, appointed some experts on the 8th of February, 1989 to work out modalities for the introduction of professional soccer in Nigeria…..the professional league was launched on the 17th May, 1990 at Onikan stadium with sixteen (16) clubs side spread all over the country.
After the introduction of the professional league, many clubs showed interest to participate in the league and according to Rahaman (2012), “the then Board decided to introduce Division two of the league in 1991. The league kept going until 2003 when the Premier League was introduced”.
Asakitikpi, (2010) stated that “sports evolved to be a means of acquiring wealth for the few who managed the sport, the sportsmen and the crowd. This was unlike the traditional games which were usually connected to a festival, ritual or some other event which naturally attracted a crowd”. Thus, the relationship between media and sport cannot be disregarded especially in terms of profit seeking venture, creating awareness, sustaining interest. Asakitikpi (2010) explained that “the mass media on their part feature these sporting activities not only to attract viewers but also to sustain their interest.
Explaining further, he opined that the media’s aim for attracting viewers and sustaining interest goes beyond satisfying the public and policymakers’ need but also extends to using them (audience) as a bait to attract advertisers who will pay the media houses to ensure that their views are constantly aired and their opinions become the foundation of a predetermined set agenda Asakitikpi,( 2010). Therefore, a mutual relationship exists between the broadcast media and sports as both depend on each other for survival.
The print (newspaper in this context) has also played a significant role in sport promotion. Having the advantage over other media as the oldest medium in the world at large and Nigeria (Iwe Irohin, 1859 by Rev. Townsend), audiences depend on it for information of coming events and results of past events. Beck and Bosshart (2003) opined that “newspapers formed the principal means of bringing news of coming events and results of past events.
Presenting the role Nigeria newspapers have played in local sports (football to be precise) promotion and the outcome of such patriotic duty, Onwumechili (2009,) noted that in late 1930’s and early 1940’s when football emerged in popularity, our local newspapers such as West African Pilot and Daily Service dedicated their interest to local football. This action according to him gave rise to nationalistic spirit and the struggle for national independence. Furthering his point, he opined that their nationalistic spirit was short-lived as a result of economic depression that besieged the country. Thus, the media were financially handicapped and they resorted to wire reports from news agencies and transnational media to fill their slots and pages as there was no money for live coverage of outdoor events including soccer (Onwumechili, 2009).
In the midst of both clubs (EPL & NPL) competing to win the hearts of Nigeria football lovers, lies the media charged with the responsibility of giving due coverage to both leagues, promoting its publicity, attracting advertisers and sponsors and framing their events with regards to creating and sustaining interests. It has been argued that newspapers in Nigeria give poor coverage to sports news. They devote most if their pages to political and economic issues and give sports news peripheral views.
As already stated, newspapers are carrier of current information or news. They are indispensable tools for social change, mobilization and multi-directional public policy campaigner and a sine-qua non to the overall sustainable sports development in Nigeria. Therefore it needs to be closely looked at. The need to embark on this study arose out of personal curiosity on the contents of Nigeria media as it concerns sports coverage. The medium that easily comes to mind in this direction is the newspaper because it is relatively cheaper and easier to handle the other media.
The content of a typical newspaper includes news (local, national, international) advertisement, feature, sports, society and many other specialized items for special-interest readers.
The basic problem however is that news agencies especially the newspapers are often more foreign league inclined than local league which makes it difficult for the growth and development of national league in Nigeria.
1.2. STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM.
Globally, there are controversies emanating from news flow and communication imbalance where accusations are made that issues in developing world are not given adequate coverage by the international media. Just as scholars in developing world extend these accusations, many believe that the media of the third world do not help matters as they tend to give more coverage to foreign events. This might be the localized version of the communication imbalance mantra. This argument seems to have been strengthened by accusations in some quarters that local media pay more attention to foreign contents than local contents and this appears to affect the perception of people towards foreign products
Again, this argument tends to have been extended to the sports industry. Sports administrators in the developing world have attributed third world’s craze for European leagues (English Premier League in this context) to the kind of coverage given to them by both local and international media. At the centre of this accusation is the fact that both sports administrators and commentators in Nigeria are of the view that English Premier League is given more attention by Nigerian fans than they give to the local leagues because local media give more coverage to EPL. However, some observers believe that football fanaticism on the part of Nigerian fans towards EPL cannot be attributed to the kind of coverage given to it but on the sophisticated nature of the League. If the former & argument is anything to go by, then it is against the local content provision in the National Broadcasting code.
Hence, this study was carried out to investigate newspaper coverage of NPL especially on Vanguard and Daily Independent newspaper.
1.3. OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY.
The primary objective of the study was to analyze newspaper coverage of national league in Nigeria with specific analysis of Vanguard and Daily champion newspapers. Based on this, the following sub-objectives were raised:
- To establish the level of coverage given to NPL by newspapers in Nigeria.
- To establish the direction of NPL newspapers coverage by Nigeria
- To establish the dominant themes found in the coverage of NPL by Nigeria newspapers.
1.4. RESEARCH QUESTIONS
Based on the objectives of the study, the following research questions were raised and they are:
- What is the level of coverage given to NPL by newspapers in Nigeria?
- What is the direction of NPL news coverage by Nigeria newspapers?
- What is the dominant theme found in the coverage of NPL by Nigeria newspapers?
1.5. SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The significance of this study is grouped under three headings:
Academically, this work would serve as a resource material to scholars who would carry out studies relating to the subject of the work.
Professionally, the study would also be an eye-opener for journalists, sports reporters, and media practitioners to understand the need for balanced coverage of both leagues and most importantly, their duty in the promotion of local sports.
Theoretically, the study would at length explain the practical application of the theory as it relates to the study.
1.6. SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The scope of this study embraces the level of newspaper coverage of NPL. It reviews the direction (slant) of reports given to the leagues as well as the prominence accorded to them. The study would also establish the dominant subject matters found in the coverage of Nigeria Premiership Leagues by the newspapers Also, for the purpose of this study, the researcher would examine the relevant areas (sport section of the national dailies) for its success, by focusing mainly on two national dailies; Daily independent and Vanguard newspapers. The study would also focus on the month of April 2016 to determine the extent of NPL coverage by the Nigeria newspapers.
1.7. OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
For the sake of clarity, certain words used in this work will be defined based on their practical meaning to the work. These words include:
Sports: Any organized physical activity like football where participants are motivated by internal and external rewards.
Football: A type of sport that involves two teams (where each team is made up of 11players) competing for the winner by scoring the highest numbers of goals.
NPL: NPL is an acronym for Nigeria Premier League which is the professional football league in Nigeria. Just like EPL, it is also made up of twenty teams.
Newspaper Coverage: It is an act of reporting an event, occurrence or a situation. In this context, the story would revolve round EPL and/or NPL.
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