Sports: The Way Ahead for India

Posted on July 21, 2010 in Sports

By Bindu N Doddahatti:

“Sports do not build character, they reveal it”- John wooden

Sports is a way of life. It is not just a means to make one physically strong but also mentally.  Although definitions of sports vary, many scholars agree that sports are institutionalized competitive activities that involve rigorous physical exertion or the use of relatively complex physical skills by participants motivated by internal and external rewards. Wide ranges of sports were already established by the time of Ancient Greece and the military culture and the development of sports in Greece influenced one another considerably. Sports became such a prominent part of their culture that the Greeks created the Olympic Games, with the implementation of the games, the term spectator sport is now coined. A spectator sport is merely a sport that is organized and played in a stadium, arena, or dome for the enjoyment of others. In modern time these spectator sports have come under the control of the sports industry. This industry operates the business side of sports with the influence of the media.

All types of sports are popular globally, but what sports can be called THE most popular in the world is challenging. Different games are popular in different countries. It’s no surprise that football, or what Americans call “soccer” is the world’s most popular sport to play and to watch. An estimated 3.5 billion people either watch or play football. The World Cup is the global championship of the sport and this tournament is played every four years. The World Cup itself is one of the highest rated sports on television, with many countries tuning in en masse to watch their country’s team play. Football is popular in all of the UK, Europe, Asia as well as South America. Next comes the cricket with 3 billion which is very famous in Asian countries, Hockey with 2 billion, Tennis with 1 billion, volleyball…and the list goes on.

The history of sports in India dates back to the Vedic era. Physical culture in ancient India was fed by a powerful fuel – religious rites. There were some well-defined values like the mantra in the Atharva-Veda, saying,” Duty is in my right hand and the fruits of victory in my left”. In terms of an ideal, these words hold the same sentiments as the traditional Olympic oath: “…….For the Honour of my Country and the Glory of Sport.” The founders of the Olympics idea had India very much in mind when they were deciding on the various disciplines. There is a fascinating link between Greece and India which stretches back to 975 B.C. The zest for chariot-racing and wrestling was common to both the countries. It is more than likely that many of today’s Olympic disciplines are sophisticated versions of the games of strength and speed that flourished in ancient India and Greece. Chess, wrestling, polo, archery and hockey (possibly a fall-out from polo) are some of the games believed to have originated in India.

Current trend of Different sports in India:

With such a rich culture of sports in India, a wide variety of Games are played through-out the country. Beginning with HOCKEY, which is the National Game there are many games which are the exclusive property of India like Kabbadi, chess, Kho-Kho, Mallakhamb, Dhop-khel, Ghella-chutt…etc. Even Tennis, Badminton, Table-Tennis, Carrom, swimming, Boxing…etc are played in a small number. But unfortunately these games are not popular and don’t have the Government support as much. The most popular and widely played sport is CRICKET.

Cricket is not a game in India but it is a religion. Though Cricket had its origin in England it is widely played in India; more than in any other country. With more than 1 billion population, cricket has the most number of followers in India. It is played in every Gully!(corner) of the country. With the winning of the World Cup in 1983 the Golden era of cricket started in India. Till now no other sport in India has been able to over-take cricket’s place. With the years rolling, cricket has seen enormous progress. The recent IPL has brought global fame to Indian cricket. The annual turn-over of the Indian cricket board is more than 1000 crores which makes it the richest cricket board. The flow of money by IPL is touching Billion. Each cricketer is earning in Millions.

Now when we have a look at the financial situation of the other sports in India it is very clear that they are completely ignored and left behind. Hockey being the national game and having won 8 Olympic gold medals, the present situation of its existence is miserable. Often the National Level players go on strike and abandon practice sessions because of non payment of their dues or no proper facilities. Time and again we read in the newspapers that the facilities provided for the swimmers, the archers, the boxers, the Tennis players or the shooters is nowhere enough. They are not rewarded according to their achievements. Even Women’s Cricket is ignored and nobody knows when they play and when they win or lose.

The condition of the sportsmen (other than cricketers!) in India is also very depressing. When the Badminton star of India Saina Nehwal wins a super series, she is awarded with just 5 lack rupees and many times it goes un-noticed. But when a Indian cricketer hits 6 sixes in a row, he is awarded with 6 crores, 1 crore for each six. Is the achievement of Saina Nehwal less than that of a cricketer? A single cricketer signs a deal of 210 crores for 2 years, which can never be imagined even in dreams by any other sportsperson not belonging to cricket in India (even after putting together the earnings of all the sportsmen other than cricketers it cannot be equalled!). The achievements of Hockey players, the Boxers, the swimmers always goes un-noticed before cricket. They never make headlines nor are they picked up for any endorsements and the government also forgets them.

We should not feel satisfied with the feats achieved by one Abhinav Bhindra, one Vishwanathan Anand, One Sania Mirza, Vijender singh, Narain Karthikeyen, Mary Kom, or One Saina Nehwal, one Bhaichung Bhatia and one P.T.Usha. Having the second largest populace in world we are not able to produce more than 1 gold medal in the individual events at Olympics, which is a matter of SHAME. Even the world’s most popular sport Football is in complete back-foot in India.

The African continent still has the most numbers of backward countries. But it can host a Successful Event like Football 2010, where people sing Waka Waka and its team can reach the quarter final, which is a great accomplishment. What has happend to India, which is one of the fastest developing countries in the world? When a country like Jamaica can produce the world class Athletes like Usain bolt and Bag Olympic medals, what is India doing?? Is India made only for Cricket? Can no other sport flourish here? What is the reason for this situation? Who is responsible? Is it the government or the mind-set of People? There is an answer for all these questions..

Firstly the government should start encouraging all kinds of sports. Talent should be watered from the lowest level. Sports hostels should be set up in each taluk. Politics should kept apart from sports. Huge amounts should be allotted for the welfare of sports persons. Achievers should be rewarded and awarded.

It is not only the work of government but also the duty of people. Parents should encourage their children to take part in different sports. People should believe that a lot can be achieved even in sports. The mind-set of the people towards other sports (than cricket) should also change. It is not true that cricket is the sole reason for the current situation of other sports in India. What is lacking is the will to promote other games. And for that Encouragement is the best medicine to Indian Sports now.

India is hosting the Commonwealth Games 2010. It is not an easy task to host such an event. India promised of a successful event to the world in Australia saying DELHI CHALO. Even after much hard work for this event there has been a lot of problems which the Indian Olympic committee is facing. Many countries and players backed-out giving security reasons. With that, there is the funding problem. Instead of all these odds India has to produce a memorable event. And it is in the hands of the Government and we the People of India.

The way ahead of Indian sports is very complex. But with the resources which India possess no problem can come in the way of glory. What Indian sports need is the support, the support of the Government and its People.

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