Even as we are on the home stretch towards the Rio Olympics in August, a controversy has erupted over the appointment of Salman Khan as the goodwill ambassador of the Indian team. This choice has met with considerable opposition; many have pointed out that it would have been more fitting to pick a sportsperson.
On the other hand, social media is also buzzing with tweets from several Bollywood personalities stating that sports stars have become famous because of movies made on them.
These statements are gross and unwarranted. For all the money and glamour that comes along with Bollywood, it is ridiculous to compare prancing on the screen to the blood, sweat and tears that go into sports. Nobody can quite fathom the challenges that sportspersons face — particularly those in less publicised sports like athletics — in their pursuit of international medals.
Having said that, it is time to put this controversy behind and concentrate on pushing our athletes towards a podium finish in Rio. Dwelling on this debate for too long will only take the focus away from the sports. Instead, we can flood social media with encouragement for our athletes.
Let this support not end with the Olympics. As individuals, we can take the time off to go to local sport events, even small competitions, to encourage youngsters to play and hone their talent. When we read or hear of a particular talented athlete struggling for funds to pay his way to some tourney, we can make some effort to see that the money reaches the athlete through correct channels.
These are just small ways in which we can encourage sports. In the meanwhile, slam any high-handedness on the part of sporting officials, and show athletes that we are proud of their efforts to represent the nation at Rio Olympics 2016. Inculcating a sporting culture is a long process, but for now, cheering on our Olympic contenders is the least we can do. Enough with the controversies and on with the medal hunt. Chalo Rio.