This is my first post for Global Voices back in 2009. I had been recruited by the very able and ever helpful Ndesanjo who's still the Sub-Saharan African Editor. This also propped me up for the current role as Sports Editor which I've held since the last Summit in Nairobi. Challenging and at times exasperating but as always having a very strong support team of editors and contributors. Look forward to more engagement with the audience and all who make Global Voices Online what it is.
From the span of most sporting disciplines, Africa is known to produce sports personalities with sterling performances in most of their sports. This is seen in football, athletics, rugby and even ‘gentlemanly’ sports such as golf and cricket.
The last 10 years has seen an explosion of sorts in sports coverage across the continent. The now famous SuperSport is an African powerhouse in pay TV for satellite users and subscribers. This has given Africa and indeed most states a platform to be able to showcase their best.
With recent developments of social media, the sports world is bound to take another leap beyond the current rut it seems to be attracting in terms of growth and expansion to the rest of the world. Fibre optic landing and other developments such as social networks and mobile telephony will be the leads.
There has been a rather unseen force in the name of blogs in the aforementioned social networks. These forums have been stealthily making in-roads as alternatives to sports coverage and offering opinions and news about sports.
Kenya is not unique to this and has seen its share of budding blogging enthusiasts. They range from the best of football to general sports with the highest sport being for obvious reasons rugby (thanks largely to the sevens success in recent years).
Say we also have a blog on the Grand Prix (Formula One) which has seen a growing fan-base in the country and the region too. I am one of those falling into the trap of running around the local joints looking for screens showing the GP on a Sunday morning or afternoon.
Starting with the rugby scene, there are more than 3 blogs including a club blog for one of the teams playing in the rugby league. The major blog on this is Rugby Kenya, which has more than one contributor. The blog is updated regularly especially after the weekend fixtures.
It links up the rugby fraternity with both the local and international circuit. It is currently ranked as the top sports blog from Kenya and 24th among top blogs from Kenya on the African blog aggregator, Afrigator.
SportsKenya for which yours truly is a contributor covers general sports from anything relating to current events to offering opinions on sports issues as well as a lashing or two every so often to the sports associations. This blog has quite a number of followers and is ranked 2nd among Kenyan sports blogs on the African blogs aggregator.
Another blogger closely related to this is Cricket Kenya whose main focus is the cricket world and samplings of other sporting disciplines. This blogger is not located in the country most the time but somehow manages to stay and keep tabs with the cricket and sports scene.
One most interesting blog is Gitau Grand Prix. This blogger has dedicated his blog to Formula One exclusively to be able to appeal to the fan-base which follows this sport. It has very incisive and well-researched articles. It has few graphics making it a hard sell to most sports enthusiasts’ but all the same has its fair share of followers.
Compared with the region, Kenya has most of the Internet users and thus by default has more bloggers. It is because of such forums as the Bloggers Camp that has seen the blogging world grow in good numbers in the country.
Developments in sport and coverage of live events as well as updates have seen the use of blogs become a must even for mainstream media which has sought to converge their offering on their websites and web portals. It is almost a given that most if not all the editors and writers of newspapers or magazines have a blog they write to or contribute.
There are other sports blogs which include Daily Running Tips, which offers tips on jogging and is currently involved in offering free tips for marathon runners both amateur and professional. This is particularly helpful given the fact that there is the Nairobi Marathon (sponsored by Standard Chartered) which has become an annual event in the Kenyan city circles.
The impact of blogs in bringing sanity to sports has started being felt with a vocal voice in Kenya Football. The main contributor and administrator, Francis Gaitho admits that this forum has brought much prominence to issues which were not previously featured in other media.
In fact, it was used by SuperSport to research about Kenya football. The impact that SuperSport has had on the Kenyan game is enormous and the games on the pitch are evident to the pedigree we can get and are looking to develop (if one our football administrators were a little more concerned and focused on developing the game rather than satisfying their insatiable appetites).
The forum has also become a source of information for FM radio stations, most of which have sports segments and the Kenya Premier League features prominently. But of course, it is no bed of roses as it would seem. Gaitho laments the way Kenya football officials especially clubs with shadowy management boards have tried besmirching his work.
Quoting from one of the Agenda issue in one of Kenya Premier League meeting’s minutes;
3rd Minute: Governance and Policies …on www.kenyafootball.com and its owner Managing Editor, Francis Gaitho, the directors noted
“…that Francis Gaitho…started a malicious campaign on his www.kenyafootball.com website in which he repeatedly made unsubstantied allegations and accusations on embezzled funds, bribery, match-fixing and other corrupt practices against the KPL and its Board and staff…”
On most counts though, sports blogs have helped their administrators learn better and understand their world of sport. It has also meant interaction with sports personalities, administrators and gets more first-hand accounts from those mentioned.
It has also seen mainstream media start appreciating different opinions and not necessarily leaving to their own machinations. The audience is the biggest beneficiary since most of the blogs are easy to read and language that makes them relate to the writers and sport alike. The impact of this will eventually expand into the greater East African and African region as a whole. With the 2010 World Cup around the corner, this is our time sports bloggers. Stand up and let’s hold our own!