Veteran Sports Journalist Ken Bediako - The Writer

By Ken Bediako

I recently came across an interesting quotation by the legendary poet, George Bernard Shaw, that said “both pessimists and optimists contribute to society. The optimist invents an aeroplane and the pessimist parachute”.

My dictionary says an optimist is confident and sure of the future whilst the pessimist is deeply distrustful and has a gloomy view of life.

One would say this dichotomy is a natural phenomenon. That is true, but when our dear nation appears to produce more pessimists than optimists it creates a huge national problem.

At 81 and on retirement at home, I have developed the habit of regularly and attentively listening to at least four local radio stations, watch at least four local TV stations, buy the Daily Graphic every day and read many of the private dailies on line. I have made this routine part of myself like breathing.

My verdict is the nation is polarised. We have turned out to be a huge debating outfit. The agenda setters wittingly make the topics simple to discuss. You are either for or against and they set the ball rolling craftily enjoying the ensuing banter.

Most of the topics go like this is co-education (mixed schools system) good or bad; should the nation sponsor political parties or not etc. One faction looks at the good side of the practice and the other the bad side. I guess the political discussants love this scenario that gives them the opportunity to blow hot air on numerous occasions. Well, they say that’s what makes politics tick but my worry is this trend is gradually finding its way into a traditionally happy environment like discussions on sports, my favourite hobby I am a bit disturbed.

Visionaries like Pierre de Courbertin who, in 1894, founded the Olympic Games saw sports and Games as a useful and healthy tonic to promote global peace and solidarity among the youth of the world. With an inspiring motto of “faster, higher stronger” (Fortius, Altius, Citius) the Olympic Games symbol of global friendship through sports, have grown to be the biggest gathering of the sporting youth from all over the world.

As the quadrennial Olympics continued to attract worldwide attention, football arguably the largest supporting sport, decided in 1930 to have its secular tournament, the FIFA World Cup also every four years but arranged in such a way not to clash with the Olympiad. It is interesting to note that the success of the FIFA World Cup has inspired many other sports disciplines like athletics, hockey, cricket etc to organise their own world cups that are receiving worldwide attention. It is accepted by all that Sports and Games have currently turned into big industries and young men and women are adding value to their hands and feet to make good money. But that doesn’t mean its entertainment value should be lost on us. No matter how you look at it, sports remain a major form of entertainment and leisure and it must be given that status. I keep saying if you lack sense of humour you can’t be a good sports journalist. I am convinced sports avenues are places for relaxation not for rioting. That’s why I expect sports discussants to show tolerance for dissenting views, less vociferous, avoid name calling, be   amiable, generous in praise, slow to criticize and avoid behaving as if sports competitions are battle grounds.

This writer is not too comfortable with the violent manner certain discussions on sports, are held, particularly when it comes to football. The fact that we usually say football is an emotional sport does not give anybody the licence to insult players and officials unnecessarily.

Football, and for that matter sports in general,

treasure facts and figures. It is therefore important for analysts to be always armed with credible records.

The ongoing GFA-Ashgold saga that has disrupted the national football league has set a lot of tongues wagging.

I heard someone on radio saying a similar court case happened in the 1988-89 season and the then GFA chairman Mr Sam Okyere was imprisoned for contempt. This is not factual. He was fined for contempt.

The full story is that just as the 1988-89 league that started on March 13, was gathering momentum, an in junction was placed on participant Accra Standfast by Mr Kojo Mensah, a supporter of Cape Coast Vipers challenging the eligibility of Standfast in the league. His argument was that Standfast should have been relegated in the 1987 league, and should therefore not compete in the 1988 -89 league.

Kojo Mensah’s objection was upheld and an injunction was issued against Standfast’s continued participation in the league. But this was ignored by the GFA and Standfast continued to play a couple of matches.

Then suddenly on May 5, the top hierarchy of the National Sports Council, Major John Addai, Chief Executive, Mr. A. K. Abotsi, Administrative Officer, Mr. G. B. Dasoberi, GFA Secretary and GFA chairman Mr Sam Okyere were arraigned before a Cape Coast High Court for contempt.

Mr Justice E. K. Kpegah, presiding, cautioned and discharged Major Addai, Mr A. K. Abotsi and Mr Dasoberi. GFA boss Sam Okyere was however fined 10,000 cedis and bonded to be of good behaviour for six months or serve a three-month jail term.

The High Court Judge’s explanation was that while Major Addai and officials of the NSC showed remorse, the GFA, and especially the chairman, only indulged in polemics.

Obviously shaken, the GFA suspended the league in the 8th week on May 8 to straighten up one or two things.

After several weeks of inactivity, like it’s happening now, the GFA was able to establish to the Appeal Court that the High Court decision was DISRUPTING THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL PROGRAMME AND BY

EXTENSION INTERNATIONAL FIXTURES (caps mine). The Appeal Court therefore set aside the Cape Coast High Court injunction and the league resumed in earnest on June19 to the end won by Kotoko followed by Okwawu and RTU. I would like to indulge sports journalists and lovers of the game to note the role of the NSC in this brouhaha and the legal efforts by the GFA to put the league back on track.

What do we see now? Your guess is as good mine.

Did I hear someone saying Qatar is our focus and its more important to market World Cup souvenir jerseys than to bother about a less profitable national league?

No matter what, cheer up and keep loving sports.