What Ails Indian Sports

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Sports; a passtime for students, a passion for players, a fitness solution for the middle aged, perhaps life for aficionados and more recently lucre for businessmen; has an equal significance for the country as a whole. It is a mirror to the professionalism of a country’s citizens, their dedication and the facilities provided to them by the government. Sports serve as a portrayal of the teamspirit among the players, a reverberator of the zeal to excel at any cost under any circumstances.

George Sheehan rightly summarised the importance of sports when he remarked “ Sport is a theatre where sinner can turn saint and a common man become an uncommon hero, where the past and the future can fuse with the present. Sport is singularly able to give us peak experiences where we feel completely one with the world and transcend all conflicts as we finally become our own potential. ” India has the second highest population in the world. A major portion of the most intellectual minds in the international arena are Indians.

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Demurring the field of sports, India has many achievements in its name to be proud upon. But when we talk of achievements in this field, they seem like a shiny oasis in the desert of failure. Its FIFA ranking at present is 134 . Its position among countries in Beijing Olympics was 50. It was even behind countries like Latvia, Uzbekistan, Zimbabwe, etc. Truth be told, bitter as it is, there are a myriad of problems, with sports and sportsmen equally, in this country. The major problem dawning upon its future is the mentality of parents.

The count of succesful sportsmen, barring cricketers ofcourse, being on fingertips combined with painfully limited chances of success has made a firm impression on their minds that sports can never be equally good a career to pursue. So they view sports as only a passtime to keep their wards healthy and their minds fresh. Anything more than that is regarded surely as an evil and must be guarded against. Children grow up believing that sport is merely for recreation. That sport is just another unrewarding persuasion in our endless fight for survival. Their emphasis gets mainly concentrated upon studies.

A child may have an option to choose between science, arts or commerce but not between cricket, football or hockey. These two are watertight compartments. This malady is deep rooted and needs to be changed first. Sportsmen in India lack grassroots and junior level training. People get a chance to be trained under a coach only if they are exceptionally gifted and their talent is recognised by people at early stages or their achievements are too striking to provide a hope that they on being trained are sure to earn fame. But those who on being trained properly could have done far better are left behind.

Monica Seles, the former tennis player started playing the game at the age of three. The coaches had recognised her talent early. Searching for such tales in the Indian context, I find only Tendulkar’s befitting. Poor facilities compared to the world standard are another factor. It was a national shame when the one-day match between India and Sri Lanka was abandoned due to poor pitch conditions. This is the condition of the sport we revere the most. It would be better not to talk about other sports. The lack of basic infrastructure also hinders any progress in this direction.

While we are spending crores of rupees for preparing Delhi for the CommonWealth Games we are sadly neglecting the building of small stadia and arenas in the rural and semi-urban centres, to encourage sporting talent in the initial stages. Insufficient squad of coaches and trainers also makes its effect felt. This leads to lack of proper and disciplined guidance. To be a world class athlete, one needs proper goal oriented coaching with the best facilities and also appropriate food and body requirements. To be at the top, we need to have proper physical conditioning which will come through a balance of diet and exercise in a scientific manner.

And most of all a very professional outlook as regards everything in this matter. It is because of this professionalism that a country like Australia is able to become a world leader in all kinds of sports, be it cricket, hockey and now even football. But on the other hand Indian sportspersons lack the competetive spirit and are prone to bask in the sunshine of their laurels. Very few of our sportspersons keep up the strict regimen in respect of diet and training once they have achieved some name and fame. Over-indulgence in cricket also paves the way for negligence of other sports.

Almost all of us know even the extra players in each squad of the Indian Cricket Team, but how many of us know even the defenders of Mohun Bagan? This facilitates the diversion of already limited funds towards cricket and leads to the starving of other sports for sponsorship. It is ignominious that Indian Hockey Team is struggling to find sponsors at a time when we have a whiff of winning a gold medal. Politicisation of sports and lack of proper management are other important causes. So is the thinking of our politicians that the sports ministry is often regarded as a punishment posting.

Favouritism and intrigues have also made their presence felt. Very often we see undeserving candidates being given preference over those who have ability. This creates mental pressure on them and they get disheartened. Poor management of the sanctioned funds and that too their opprobrious unequal distribution among different sports is well known to us. But the only thing which remains mystery to the common man and thus escapes the vox populi is the amount of the money actually spent in development work. Then there are officials who neither retire nor contribute.

The most glaring examples of a futile career in sports is provided by sportspersons themselves. The name of Savio Fernandes is worth mentioning here. Few years back the Sports people in Mumbai rallied together to raise funds and get a flat for him. The news channels have shown a number of sportsmen doing petty jobs to eke out their living. Such things to a great extent demoralise our youngsters. Beyond these perceivable reasons are some factors which are not directly visible. One such factor is the economy of our country.

We are in a developing stage and our government can’t spend whatever it likes on sports to put up a good show. With millions people below the poverty line and still millions sleeping without a square meal a day we have got the moral responsibility for their upliftment. Necessity ought to be satisfied in lieu of luxury. Thus our approach should be a balanced one. Privatisation of sports might go a long way in solving this problem. Everyone knows that India is a store house of talent. We never lacked that. We just need a proper technique and management. Sport must become a national priority for India to do well.

The government would do itself a favour by concentrating all its energies on providing facilities at the grassroots level. If it encourages schools and colleges to spend more time and money on sport, half the battle would be won. A healthy atmosphere should be created and selections properly made. Fine, upright, capable sports lovers need to be in charge, with a clear mandate to make India a super power in sports. The approach should be proper, goal oriented and disciplined. These things will develop sportsmen of high callibre and show the world that India can be a world champion in every sport.

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What Ails Indian Sports. (2017, Mar 12). Retrieved from


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