Sporting disgrace of the highest order

The squalid conditions that Sandeep Tulsi Yadav, a World Championships bronze medal-winning wrestler, and Narsingh Yadav, the city’s only representative at the London Olympics, are being forced to endure at Sports Authority of India’s Kandivli campus (MiD DAY Oct 22) shows the kind of sporting sensitivity our administrators possess. 

But this is not exactly unexpected considering what Lalit Bhanot, the 2010 Commonwealth Games’ official spokesperson had said in defence of the paan-stained, messy rooms at the Games Village. “Everyone,” he said, “has different standards about cleanliness. The Westerners have different standards, we have different standards.”

Different standards, it seems, is the operative phrase here considering it is hard to imagine a sports official ever having to live in inhuman conditions that Sandeep and Narsingh endure daily at Kandivli even as they try and focus on making the nation proud.

In fact, over the years, there have been multiple examples of sports officials treating sportspersons like dirt, completely disregarding the fact that taking care of athletes is their job, not a burden and they are paid well for carrying out this task.

However, the stark reality of Indian sports is that sportspersons are often considered expendable. It is this mentality that plagues far too many officials and eventually affects the mentality and performance of the athlete.

Perhaps, that is why in a nation of over a billion people, we have managed to clinch only a handful of medals at the Olympics.

The chalta hai attitude delivers a sickening blow to our sporting dreams and as long as this continues, we cannot complain about India being a one-sport nation. It’s the administrators, who are making other sporting disciplines look like beggars as compared to healthy and wealthy cricket.

Every lane is not a dark alley. There are organisations like the Olympic Gold Quest, Mittal Champions Trust, etc. that are taking Indian sport to another level, but these are at best silver linings. What we need is a sporting movement. Anything less won’t do. And the facilities at SAI in Kandivli certainly won’t do.

Shame on Indian sport!

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