Sachin Tendulkar has once again made Indians proud and set the standards of sports high. His double ton at Gwalior has sent the country to new ecstasy levels. We are proud that the only super human to achieve this feat is an Indian, a humble little Indian batting maestro.
Starting from 1989, a career that has spanned nearly 20 years, Tendulkar has still got the same spring in his legs and the youthful energy in addition to copious amounts of patriotism and true passion for the game. He has been a role model for countless young cricketing enthusiasts who cheer him throughout every match and try to bat and bowl like him.
But it is a very sad aspect that in spite of many great sportspersons like Sachin, Saina, Paes, Dhanraj Pillai and others in different games, sports is not given due importance in our curriculum. Sports is largely a neglected field in India with not many parents too interested in building up their talented wards as professional sportspersons. Even kids with natural talent are forced to concentrate on nothing other than academics once they cross their middle school. No parents in India would like to encourage their children to discontinue their studies as there is no guarantee of earning a livelihood in a nation where not all the sports are patronized by its citizens. Hence India looses a lot of talent, talent that could have won us many a medals in the international arena.
With a population of over 1 billion and boasting about just one individual Olympic gold medal or 9 total gold medals (or 20 medals in total) throughout the entire history of Olympics is not a great deal when countries as small as Jamaica and Ethiopia can fetch the same number in a single Olympics. With the commonwealth games to be scheduled to be held in India in October 2010, it would be a big shame if we cannot put up a good show as the hosts. May be in this case we should learn some lessons from China, who snatched 100 medals (51 gold) in the Beijing home ground Olympics in 2008 through rigorous training and facilities to top the medal table.
A post-mortem analysis of a performance can be avoided if we can eliminate the cause of death itself. Sportspersons, not cricketers alone, should be treated with respect and given due recognition for their contribution to the game and representation of the country. The pitiable way in which the hockey players are treated and the meagre salaries which they are entitled to, point to how much we care for sports and our sportsmen. The recent accusations by Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra and veteran athlete P.T. Usha on shabby treatment meted out to them are examples of the negligence shown to sports and sportsmen. They too are soldiers of the country, carrying the flag of the nation high as they battle it out on the hockey fields or athletic tracks. They must also be saluted, encouraged and rewarded. Facilities and monetary assistance for sportsmen should be sufficiently provided and officials at the helm of sports bodies should mandatorily have past experience and close association with sports and games.
As we gear up for hosting the prestigious commonwealth games, the preparations for which are also dry and low with work progressing at a slow pace and many projects running behind schedule, at least we should try to eliminate a complete showdown. With India hosting the Commonwealth games for the first time and nearly 8000 athletes from over 70 countries expected to touchdown in the capital, it is time India showcased its sporting talent and sportsmanship spirit to the world.
The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.