Good riddance to 2015 Sporting year – Welcome 2016!

The year 2015 sporting year will go down in history for all the wrong reasons. It will go down as the year in which the world of sport was turned upside down.

This is the year in which the integrity of sport took very serious body blows. Will sport recover? There are many theories that are bound to come out of the quagmire of 2015. Pessimists will vow that the damage is beyond repair and that global sport can never be the same again. Optimists will view the unsavoury developments of 2015 as a necessary and inevitable phase in human development whereby issues of governance have to be strengthened in order for the global sport system to emerge much stronger from such a crisis.

Therefore, whatever your take on life is, be it as a dreamer, skeptic, pessimist, or optimist, one thing is certain.

The days of romanticizing the benefits of sport and the goodwill of sport leaders are gone.

Blind loyalty and enthusiasm have not helped. Sport is definitely under attack from outright corruption, doping and illegal betting scandals.

The billion dollar question is: How can sport regain the trust and support of the public and corporate sponsors? There are many answers to the question.

The answers  must not be attempted in theory only but must played out in practice in the board rooms of national , continental and international sport federations  as well as in the training camps and on the  field of play.

Therefore, as the 2016 sporting year emerges from the ruins of 2015, it is now a matter of life and death that resolutions and initiatives be adopted to practically transform and improve corporate governance in sport. Of course, sport is not the only sector to suffer an integrity crisis.

Financial institutions, mining and oil companies have all suffered tremendous setbacks when they were subjected to closer public scrutiny revealing a myriad of underhand dealings by various high level executives.

The year 2015 has been a painful one on many fronts.

Painful lessons have been learnt and the experiences gained should never go to waste.

The 2016 sporting year holds a lot of promise for rehabilitation.

The Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, are the highlights of a year which will see new heroes emerging and the old ones retiring or riding into the sunset.

Athletics, which has been rightly referred to as “the jewel in the Olympic crown” has suffered from corruption allegedly perpetrated by the erstwhile president of the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF), Lamine Diack, his sons and their cronies.

The damning allegations against them are a cause for great concern and do not augur well for a sport that is supposed to be the main attraction at the Olympic Games.

Football is another main attraction at the games.

The beautiful game, “jogo bonnito” as the great Brazilian, Pele, described it, is ailing after years of wanton corruption, reckless abandon and impunity.

It seems there is nothing beautiful about the game anymore. However, we should not forget   the exploits of Lionel Messi, Ronaldo and Yaya Toure who skills and performances still cause fans to buy tickets to watch them.

The arrests of senior football leaders by Swiss and United States authorities is indeed regrettable.

The allegations leveled against them make sad reading as well.

Looking at the backdrop of 2015, there is every reason for sports fans and corporate sponsors to feel betrayed.  They are the bedrock and foundation on which sport at every level is built. Sport has taken its most important partners, the fans and corporate sponsors for granted.

If these two vote with their feet, then sport as we know will be no more. However, it is important to note that human beings make mistakes and have to learn from.

Sometimes, bad things have to happen for us to know categorically the difference between good and bad.

Hopefully, we will all learn from the terrible mistakes that reared their ugly heads most prominently in 2015.

National sports authorities need to maintain a close eye on the affairs of clubs and national associations.

This is because sport is now big business, generating a lot revenue, even in developing countries in Southern Africa. Of course, the piece of the pie of global sport is still negligible in Africa but that does not mean that there should be a free-for all situation in terms of governance and leadership of sport.

Sport can contribute a great deal in national and regional development but it has to be taken seriously by all relevant stakeholders.

However, sport is in most cases, considered as simply playing, leading to low prioritization in terms of budget allocations.

It is surprising to see colossal amounts being spent on jet fighters, guns, ammunitions as well as building prisons in Southern Africa.

This is a region which is deemed to be most peaceful and politically stable on the African continent.

Maybe some of the funds would be better utilized in sport development to stop people from going to prison in the first place. In this connection, apart from making sure that they have tickets to travel to Brazil for the Olympic Games, the region’s sport leaders must actively engage their governments to obtain  funds for facilities construction and sport development programmes. In short, sport leaders must innovate of perish.

Good riddance to the sporting year 2015 and welcome 2016!

December 2015
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