Monday, August 24, 2009

Game On!

Am back after a while.
Today’s topic is Sports. Well, not exactly. It’s more about India’s dismal performance in almost all sports, in any international event.

I will try not to go into the Cricket Vs. Rest of the Sports debate, as that topic itself is quite descriptive. But its quite obvious, that almost everyone in India, including the Government endorses cricket, while brutally ignoring and neglecting other sports, and events. A top Indian cricketer earns more money via a single match and advertisements than a hockey player earns in his entire sporting career.

Everyday, when I turn to the Sports column in any newspaper, I almost always find the same news. ‘Indian players disappoint. So and so fail to qualify. So and so, exited in the first round itself. India loses yet again. Indian players give a miserable performance at so and so.’ And so on and so forth, this news continues. Every single day. Apart from cricket, India has hardly demonstrated any adroitness in any sporting event, at the international level. We always perform disastrously in the Olympics, we have yet to qualify for the FIFA World Cup, and our once unbeatable hockey team has gone down the dumps. Not even to mention events such as athletics, swimming, golf, etc, in which India hardly has any eminent player to talk about.

Why is this so? Why does a country with a billion plus population fail to produce even a few good sportsmen, when it comes to sports apart from cricket? Do we lack the potential? Or the financial resources? Or is it due to politics and corruption? Let us now delve into this problem deeply.

First of all, India has always been a poor country since Independence. Even till date, almost half its population is below the poverty line. So when people were not even getting food to eat and a house to stay, it’s quite evident that they would hardly be bothered to take sports seriously. And quite frankly, the Government has never really promoted any sport. Sports has always taken the back seat, whenever political issues were discussed. There is no permanent autonomous Sports Organization in our country, which handles all sporting events(am not talking about cricket, and BCCI is more famous for controversies than anything else). As a result, we lack the necessary financial resources, and the capital to build world class training institutes, and to induct qualified professional trainers. Most of the training institutes are paltry buildings and the trainers themselves have little idea about the sport.

India is not short of talent. We have immense potential, when it comes to sports. There are millions of budding athletes in our country. But unless they have political connections, or unless they are rich, they keep facing one hurdle after the other, when it comes to progressing in sports.

Corruption is another factor. There are many corrupt selectors throughout the country. They select their own preferred candidates (who often bribe them) to represent their team, for any event, instead of selecting a better candidate. Favoritism has diluted the efficacy of sports. For example, in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, all the people sent to represent India, in sporting events, were linked to the Railways. Why this discrepancy? Does it mean that people from outside this nexus, are inefficient in sports? Obviously not.

Finally, one last factor I would like to mention is the attitude and mentality of the Indian people themselves. In many households, parents want their kids to study hard and always come first in class. Sports always take the least importance. Scarcely if ever, is a child encouraged to participate and excel in sports. All parents want is a 90% mark in their child’s report card. Apart from this, most children prefer playing cricket and football, limiting themselves to these two games. Very few(compared to rest) opt for tennis, polo, hockey, athletics, sword-fighting, fencing, skating, martial arts etc. I have seen many budding sportsmen/sportswomen being forced to abandon playing the sport they loved, and forced to become engineers and managers by their hypocritical parents, who believe that forceful studying is the only way to success.

The main problem is that many people don’t take sporting events seriously. They only take it up as a leisure activity, something to kill time with, or to enjoy with their friends. And with this casual outlook, no wonder, so few prominent sportsmen are coming up nowadays, in our country. We should take a page out of some other countries books. Like China or Australia, who in spite of lagging behind in the past, have produced some of the Worlds best sportsmen, and now they excel in numerous sports. They have not remained unidirectional like India has, by focusing on only one sport.

There are quite a few more factors that I have not mentioned, like politics. But I feel this post has become too long, and I will stop now.

I assume, sometime in your childhood, you must have heard this saying, ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.’ Well, even if your name is not Jack, its high time you took this saying seriously.

Take care, folks. And thanks for reading.


Amitabha said...

Great piece,dude!But I want to add a few comments of my own. The problem of sports and it being so backward in our country has a very wide scope.In India which is in its developing stage, many people are hard-pressed to get a living out of what they earn. In this situation getting a family member into an uncertain proposition like some sports when he could earn,even though very little, but atleast something for himself by following his studies is hard to comply to. This problem of overlooking the importance of games is not as much a problem of mentality as of financial crisis and economics. A more stable society and economy will encourage people to allow their kids to follow their dreams. This is not possible in the present case because their is a lack of security.
So in a way what you said is quite true, however parents in most of the cases have very limited dictate over their economic conditions.So we have to be patient and wait for the economy to grow, only then will investing ones life in sports will be considered as practical.

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