It is heartening to note that the Supreme Court is concerned about the state of hockey in India. These strong words that emerged through news reports yesterday will please supporters of the national game: “Sports are run by private individual persons. Private individuals are controlling the games in India. Can the game be held hostage by private interest? This is why hockey has come down and the team is struggling to qualify for the Olympics, where we used to win gold medals.”
That India’s hockey players have not been able to lay their hands on a gold medal at the Olympic Games since Moscow in 1980 is a slap in the face of India’s historic domination.
Probably, the more disappointing aspect is that we have struggled to qualify for some of the big-ticket events, an ignominy that was unheard of in the days of old.
Sure, hockey became a different game with the Western world thriving on astro turf, but this reason cannot be used as an excuse each time India find themselves in the cellar of a sport they were so good at. While the federation didn’t give the impression of putting their best foot forward in tiding over a problem, the players have not developed enough to match the exploits of the rest of the world.
Then came the Indian Hockey Federation versus Hockey India power game which is the saddest thing that has happened to the sport in this country.
The Supreme Court slammed politicians and businessmen running the game and questioned whether there was an Olympian chairing the sport’s governing body. However, there is a place for politicians in sport because running associations require powerful people like politicians.
For example, if land has to be acquired for an academy or a playing field, a politician and businessman’s influence will come in handy.
Having former players as administrators will work for the technical side of the game. So, a rigid stance of ‘only politicians’ or ‘only sportspersons’
will not work in smooth administration.
The right kind of mix will do the trick and put Indian hockey back on track. That this trick may need a fair share of magic is beside the point.