The weird ways of Indian sport

Aug 29, 2013, 08:07 IST | Dhananjay Roy

On the occasion of National Sports Day today, MiD DAY lists things that need to change in Indian sports

>> Changing colours
Reverence for international cricketers notwithstanding, we are a country guilty of not showing adequate respect for our sportspersons who toil away in other disciplines. 

Joy & tears: Ace archer Deepika Kumar was reduced to tears on Tuesday after the media hassled her for interviews on her arrival from Poland, where she won gold at the World Cup

Things have improved slightly with India’s showings at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics, but even then, there is serious ground to be covered as far as giving sportsmen their rightful place is concerned. Agreed, many of them don’t end up winning medals at the Olympics, after spectacular performances at the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games, but that should hardly be reason enough to simply forget them weeks after their triumph at these competitions.

>> Where are the medals, guys?
Come the Olympics, and it’s time for the great Indian fan to wake up from his slumber. As one athlete after the other cuts a sorry figure (hopefully Beijing and London were not aberrations) at the Games, he cringes: “For God’s sake, why can’t we finish on the podium?”
But as the saying goes, if you point a finger at others, at the same time, there are three other fingers that point at you. If only this fan had taken note of the struggles which that poor athlete went through while trying to make the
Olympic cut.

>> Insensitive media
Remember the archers who returned to Delhi on Tuesday after their World Cup triumph in Poland on Sunday? They were reduced to tears by mediapersons jostling for ‘exclusives.’ The latter would just not let them leave without getting their quotes. That though was a minor infringement on part of the media, given the larger context. One just needs to ask athletes like Pinky Pramanik and Santhi Soundarajan the horror they went through while the media kept raising wicked questions about their gender.

>> It’s all about the chair
Ever wondered why the credibility of the Indian Olympic Association has taken a severe pounding over the past few years? It’s because officials run sport in the country like personal fiefdom. They belong to a tribe that believes sportsmen survive because of the former’s benevolence rather than the sacrifices athletes make to win accolades for the country and themselves.

>> Landing that perfect job
While Indian athletes are faced with numerous obstacles while trying to break through the ranks, there is also a set of sportspersons whose sole motive in life is to play well enough to land a job in some government department. It may be difficult to pinpoint those athletes, but this sure is a factor that impedes India’s performance at the international level.

>> Prizes, please!
Over the past few years, it has become standard operating procedure. Athlete wins medal. State governments and federations clamour to announce cash awards. Weeks pass, followed by months and in most cases it stretches into years. The poor athlete has hung his boots, but that promised reward remains just that -- a false promise! 

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