The cheering crowd, over-enthusiastic sports lovers and news channels can be heard roaring during any championship or World Cups held across the globe, but this phenomenon has one condition – the sport should only be cricket. There are only a few people who know things related to other sports like shooting, tennis, shot put etc.
India does not have a dearth of potential or talent. If a sport is popular and well-represented in a country, it will be well funded and will become a popular sport. There would be many more talented players winning medals for our country in other sports which are not so popular today in our country. In a more developed country, all sports are given importance and funding, which leads to better training and infrastructure and, therefore, better performances. But in a country like India with so many other problems, we cannot be bothered with giving the same amount of attention to many sports. So the popular sport in which we do well gets all the infrastructure and limelight. The facilities provided to sportspersons other than cricket players is not even a fraction of which is provided to players of foreign countries. One of the great examples of this is India was not able to participate in FIFA World Cup because of a lack of proper equipment. Hockey is the national sport of India but even then most people have negligible knowledge about it and won’t be able to name even two to three hockey players.
Athletes from other sports are also neglected by the media. They do not get any advertisements or coverage from the news channels. The sports page of newspapers in India mostly publishes news about cricket or give them plenty of space but even if some player wins a championship in any other sports, there is no proper article praising them. TV news channels have dedicated programs for news regarding cricket and almost no such thing for other sports.
Cricketers also earn hefty salaries from BCCI and secondary sources like Indian Premier League etc. They start to earn while playing at National Level but condition of other sports related to salary and facilities are really unsatisfying to the players and their families.
Corruption is one of the reasons why sportsmen don’t get proper facilities. Even after retirement, cricket players have secured jobs. On the other hand, there are many players who died penniless due to some disease and some are forced to sell vegetables and Golgappas who all once made our nation victorious and proud.
Sports has never been a priority for the Indian Government. In the interviews of many players like Shiva Keshavan, the unsatisfactory remarks for government are often heard. Shiva was the only one from India who qualified for the sport of luge during the Winter Olympics. The government did not provide him with any allowance and he had to collect money through crowdfunding. This clearly depicts the negligence of Indian Government towards these sports whereas there are many events in the game of cricket where the Prime Minister himself visits to promote and praise the players. Sports like luge, ice-hockey, javelin throw are the sports of which even a handful of people are also not aware of.
Arjun Navaratna, senior economist at Australia New Zealand Bank says that there are scholarships and endowments for athletes that guarantee a basic minimum standard of living, but this system is fraught with bureaucratic red tape, political interference, conflicts of interest and corruption. The government actually forgets that there are other sports in the country. Due to lack of funds and facilities, inferior quality training equipment and not much support from the sporting federations, the country is lagging behind in non-cricketing sports. Teams and individuals who worked hard, put all their strength in making the country proud at international platforms have been abandoned by the government. Also, the fact is there are almost no stadiums for sports other than cricket. There is no proper football stadium which could host international matches. The government must not be ignorant towards these things and should work in this field.
A lot of people still don’t know that hockey is our National Sport and not Cricket. In 1928, the Indian hockey team won it’s first Olympic gold medal. 1928 to 1956 was the golden period for the Indian Hockey team. Nobody from India ever won any gold medal in Olympics before India Hockey team did. The Indian men’s team remained unbeaten in the Olympics, gaining six gold medals in a row. The Indian team has won a total of eight gold, one silver and two bronze medals in Olympics. If the brilliant and hard-hitting reality in “Chak De India” didn’t help you understand the position of our hockey team players are, then you are certainly mistaken for something worse.
Time to time there have been many protests by hockey players regarding the poor quality of food, or lack of modern equipment. They don’t get proper diet and then they are underestimated that they cannot compete with hockey players of international level. In spite of all the obstacles our Indian hockey teams, men and women perform exceptionally well in their games and often bag many prizes. The zeal and enthusiasm of the players is worth appreciation. On the one hand, all demands made by Indian cricketers are met while, on the other, the demands by hockey players go unheard. If the government continues to ignore their needs, this way this will be a loss to the nation itself and many talented and emerging students will not get opportunities.
Recently there was a movie named ‘Gold’ which featured one of the greatest hockey players the world has ever seen. He was a gem from India and also a true patriot but still there is no biopic made on him whereas there is a biopic of Mohammad Azharuddin who was accused of match-fixing. The ICC and BCCI banned him for life based on a report from CBI. Still, the audience loved the movie and it was quite a hit on the box office. There have been few attempts by Indian Cinema to bring other sports like hockey, wrestling, football but they are not in numbers that can have an influence over people to support other sports. Media plays an important role in building the image of a sportsperson. Currently, the scenario is that news channels have dedicated programs for cricket events and newspapers have dedicated slots for the same. Almost no one even knew that there was a shooting world cup just held in Delhi, India and that the 12th Asian Games are going on in Chinese Taipei. Even the new media does not broadcast content related to other sports and become active only during Cricket seasons, mostly during IPL. There are predictions and polls conducted on news channels and on social media as well and this is how the public gets notified about sports events and show their interest in it. Sunil Chhetri, an extraordinary football player from India had to plead to the people to be the audience of India’s football team match. If this is going to be the condition of football, how will our country ever excel in it? Media must acknowledge these facts and try to make other players famous as well.
This reaches to a conclusion that in a country full of sports and talented youth, there should be many winners in Olympics but still, India lags in this field. India has won only 9 gold medals from which 8 were won by Indian Hockey team and one by Abhinav Bindra in shooting. This is all due to the negligence of the government and poor facility.
I am not anti-Cricket. This game is quite fascinating to me and India is really doing well in it. It’s great to have such a great audience cheering the Indian cricket team and building up their confidence. India has many talented cricket players and young players ready to play on the international level. But this kind of step-motherly treatment to other games is unfair on our part.
They deserve some respect. A girl’s video in which she “winks” becomes viral and is everywhere on media but even if a sportsperson brings laurels for our country, their story goes unheard. There have been cases like Pan Singh Tomar who was a steeplechase champion but had to become a bandit due to the failure of the system. There are many others example like K.D Jadhav(1952 Olympics Bronze medalist), Parduman Singh (1954 Asian Games Shotput and Discus gold medalist); they all died penniless. There must be schemes for players even after retirement or have some secure job that they don’t face any further trouble.