Historically, sports have been with man as he advanced with time. It may not bewrong to say that every sport exhibited in a society reflects the way of living of thatsociety. Thus, each society has its traditional sports through which they communicate toanyone who wishes to see their culture. Illustrating this, Coakley (2009,) stated, “Incultures where cooperative relationships are highly valued and necessary for groupsurvival, competing with others for rewards is likely to be seen as disruptive and evenimmoral”. Therefore, such societies would engage in sports that are not competitive andwhich according to Coakley (2009,) would be geared towards “achieving a tie to enda game”.

In Nigeria, our way of living revolves around competing for the best. Thus, ourtraditional sports involve searching for a winner in a competitive way and rewarding thewinner with prestige, title, property or even marriage to the daughter of a monarch. Someof our traditional sports, according to Onifade (2012) include hunting, running,acrobatics, horse racing, jumping and wrestling. The information presented up to thispoint indicates the relationship between sports and human culture. Thus, sports,according to Beck and Bosshart (2003,) “provide reliable mirrors of societies. Theyreflect social values that can extend from individual values like discipline, asceticism,and self-control to collective values like sportsmanship and fairness, and generallyaccepted 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 theircolonies to introduce their sports which are known as “modern sports”. Accordingly, thewhite man’s (British colonial masters) arrival in Nigeria brought about the introduction oftheir modern sports (like football) and other ideologies (religion, education etc.), Onifade (2003). This was in line with Ligon’s (2007) statement when she noted thatthe 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 bythe 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 inNigeria earlier than 1914, Ehizojie and Odogun (1987) as cited by Ligon (2007).

The newly introduced modern sports like football began to overshadow our local sportswhich, according to Onifade (2003 ) were possible through the efforts of themissionary schools, European clubs and military clubs. However, the knowledge of thesesports 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 thegame by emulating the privileged ones as they engaged in such sports (Ligon 2007).

Following the diffusion of modern sports in Nigeria, many structured football leaguesbegan to spring up. Presenting how they sprang up, Onifade (2003) noted that asmodern sports advanced in Nigeria, many sports associations like football associationsstarted emerging in the 1940s. Another scholar Ligon (2007,) opined that “crowdsof locals would gather to watch British soldiers play football during the Boerwar….Young schoolboys in Nigeria kicked around mango seeds emulating the Britishexpatriates 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 badperformance of Nigeria footballers at international level. Rahaman (2012) in hisarticle 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 tobe introduced in Nigeria, following dismal performances in international engagements.For example, when Nigeria failed to qualify for the world cup finals in Argentina in1978, and Spain in 1982. The then Honourable Minister of Social Development, Youthand 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…..theprofessional 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 toparticipate in the league and according to Rahaman (2012), “the then Board decidedto introduce Division two of the league in 1991. The league kept going until 2003 whenthe Premier League was introduced”.

Asakitikpi, (2010) stated that “sports evolved to be a means of acquiring wealthfor the few who managed the sport, the sportsmen and the crowd. This was unlike thetraditional games which were usually connected to a festival, ritual or some other eventwhich naturally attracted a crowd”. Thus, the relationship between media and sportcannot be disregarded especially in terms of profit seeking venture, creating awareness,sustaining interest. Asakitikpi (2010) explained that “the mass media on their partfeature these sporting activities not only to attract viewers but also to sustain theirinterest.

Explaining further, he opined that the media’s aim for attracting viewers andsustaining interest goes beyond satisfying the public and policymakers’ need but alsoextends to using them (audience) as a bait to attract advertisers who will pay the mediahouses to ensure that their views are constantly aired and their opinions become thefoundation of a predetermined set agenda Asakitikpi,( 2010). Therefore, a mutualrelationship exists between the broadcast media and sports as both depend on each other forsurvival.


The print (newspaper in this context) has also played a significant role in sportpromotion. Having the advantage over other media as the oldest medium in the world atlarge and Nigeria (Iwe Irohin, 1859 by Rev. Townsend), audiences depend on it forinformation of coming events and results of past events. Beck and Bosshart (2003)opined that “newspapers formed the principal means of bringing news of coming eventsand results of past events.

Presenting the role Nigeria newspapers have played in local sports (football to beprecise) 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 localnewspapers such as West African Pilot and Daily Service dedicated their interest to localfootball. This action according to him gave rise to nationalistic spirit and the struggle fornational independence. Furthering his point, he opined that their nationalistic spirit wasshort-lived as a result of economic depression that besieged the country. Thus, the mediawere financially handicapped and they resorted to wire reports from news agencies andtransnational media to fill their slots and pages as there was no money for live coverageof outdoor events including soccer (Onwumechili, 2009).

In the midst of both clubs (EPL & NPL) competing to win the hearts of Nigeriafootball lovers, lies the media charged with the responsibility of giving due coverage toboth leagues, promoting its publicity, attracting advertisers and sponsors and framingtheir 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.


Globally, there are controversies emanating from news flow and communicationimbalance where accusations are made that issues in developing world are not givenadequate coverage by the international media. Just as scholars in developing worldextend these accusations, many believe that the media of the third world do not help mattersas they tend to give more coverage to foreign events. This might be the localized versionof the communication imbalance mantra. This argument seems to have been strengthenedby accusations in some quarters that local media pay more attention to foreign contentsthan local contents and this appears to affect the perception of people towards foreignproducts

Again, this argument tends to have been extended to the sports industry. Sportsadministrators in the developing world have attributed third world’s craze for Europeanleagues (English Premier League in this context) to the kind of coverage given to them byboth local and international media. At the centre of this accusation is the fact that bothsports administrators and commentators in Nigeria are of the view that English PremierLeague is given more attention by Nigerian fans than they give to the local leaguesbecause local media give more coverage to EPL. However, some observers believe thatfootball fanaticism on the part of Nigerian fans towards EPL cannot be attributed to thekind 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 theNational Broadcasting code.

Hence, this study was carried out to investigate newspaper coverage of NPL especially on Vanguard and Daily Independent newspaper.


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 wereraised:

  1. To establish the level of coverage given to NPL by newspapers inNigeria.
  2. To establish the direction of NPL newspapers coverage by Nigeria
  3. To establish the dominant themes found in the coverage of NPL by Nigeria newspapers.



Based on the objectives of the study, the following research questions were raisedand they are:

  1. What is the level of coverage given to NPL by newspapers inNigeria?
  2. What is the direction ofNPL news coverage by Nigeria newspapers?
  3. What is the dominant theme found in the coverage of NPL by Nigeria newspapers?


The significance of this study is grouped under three headings:

Academically, this work would serve as a resource material to scholars who wouldcarry out studies relating to the subject of the work.

Professionally, the study would also be an eye-opener for journalists, sportsreporters, and media practitioners to understand the need for balanced coverage of bothleagues and most importantly, their duty in the promotion of local sports.

Theoretically, the study would at length explain the practical application of thetheory as it relates to 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 theprominence accorded to them. The study would also establish the dominant subjectmatters found in the coverage of Nigeria Premiership Leagues by the newspapers Also, for the purpose of this study, the researcher would examine therelevant areas (sport section of the national dailies) for its success, by focusing mainly ontwo national dailies; Daily independent and Vanguard newspapers. The studywould also focus on the month of April 2016 to determine the extent of NPL coverage by the Nigeria newspapers.


For the sake of clarity, certain words used in this work will be defined based ontheir practical meaning to the work. These words include:

Sports: Any organized physical activity like football whereparticipants are motivated by internal and external rewards.

Football: A type of sport that involves two teams (where each team ismade up of 11players) competing for the winner by scoringthe highest numbers of goals.

NPL: NPL is an acronym for Nigeria Premier League which is theprofessional football league in Nigeria. Just like EPL, it isalso made up of twenty teams.

Newspaper Coverage: It is an act of reporting an event, occurrence or a situation. Inthis context, the story would revolve round EPL and/or NPL.