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Monday, July 16, 2012

Chariots of Fire





Should sports bodies be headed only by sports persons? And if that sports person also happens to be a politician or if he holds a stake in a multi-million dollar franchise, will you accept him/her to be the head of the sports body?


A country of billion plus which aims to be a superpower by 2020—but cannot get one gold medal in Olympics—where even the tiny countries on the map, walk away with the glory! The story remains the same year after year! A nation which is obsessed with Cricket, cannot make a winning team, and after each success falls like a pack of cards!

Soul-searching after every single disastrous performance still does not change the end result; and forces us to hang our heads in shame after every event of international standing where our teams participated. The reasons are many but some which immediately come to mind are as follows:

1.      Crass favoritism in selection process based on caste, area, and the clout.
2.      The sports bodies across the country are managed by politicians/appointees and power brokers who treat them as their fiefdom with scant concern of objectivity.
3.      Lack of focus and preparation for any event.
4.      Nurturing of talent from the early stage is very rare and the infrastructure is extremely poor and lacks even basic facilities.

The recent lackadaisical preparation for Commonwealth Games and the shame associated with aftermath will not be easily forgotten. This happened when the highest leadership in the country was involved right from the word go! Large scale bungling, corruption, and mismanagement were glaringly evident.

The idea of highlighting these issues is to stem the rot and also understand whether involvement of political leadership or money bags support really helped?

India is not a sporting nation compared to countries like China, Australia, and even Ethiopia or Cuba! The only game which captures the imagination of the youth is Cricket, due to the increased commercial benefits and visibility associated with the game. Even in this sport, the constant tug-of-war between various sporting bodies, high profile businessmen, movie stars, et al have only brought to surface the power play and very little fame and trophies. It has become a national pastime to spend million of rupees just in one sport where eleven sportsmen play and another eleven million fools watch!

Indian hockey lost its sheen with the passage of time due lack of funds and encouragement. The other games are played more on a club level than as a national team. A small country like Holland which never played hockey till a few years ago, fields one of the best teams in the game, which they learnt and mastered with dedication.

In case India has to emerge on the global arena as a country capable of playing world-class sports and vying for medals, it is pertinent to address some of the following issues on priority:

1.      Sports should be a part of curriculum in mainstream; and those showing promise must be identified early and trained at national level by dedicated sportsmen.
2.      As most sportsmen play only till the age of 35 years they should be given employment just for participation in sports.
3.      Sports venues should be upgraded with facilities of international standards.
4.      The sport venues should only be used for sporting events and not be misused for non-sporting /cultural events

There are many qualified management graduates who have excelled in the field of sports and they may be inducted in sporting bodies with attractive remuneration to acquire the best talent. Diego Maradona, an eminent player of Argentina led the national football team in a World Cup event. Jackie Clark, a footballer has been heading as the Chairman of Australian Cricket since 2008. Vicente del Bosque González, the Spanish Soccer team manager has been a player of eminence and successfully lead the team in World Cup and Euro Cup since 2008. He had played 441 times and scored several goals. All the major Baseball team mangers in USA are the players who once played the game and brought laurels to the country.

Worldwide, the phenomenon of having representatives of the game heading it, helps the cause, and also brings the true spirit of sportsmanship. It is very rare that a sportsman of eminence is a politician, and holds a stake in million dollar franchise for charitable reasons, for bringing glory to the sport. It is more of a business venture with an end objective of swelling coffers rather than love for the game; as has been witnessed on many occasions. Hence I would not like to see such a person being at the helm of the affairs! Sports bodies should only be headed by sportspersons.

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68 comments:

  1. Very true sir.. but I have high hopes from the indian hockey team this time , I think this year they will do it..
    they have been played beautifullly and defeated bigger better teams with determination ..

    I do think the sports contingent should be lead by a sports person who is a part of the indian team

    All the best to the indian team for the olympics I for one will be watching them and cheering for them

    OLD GOLD IS THE COLOR OF OURS
    COME ON INDIA SHOW THEM STARTS




    Open letter to all -Bikram's

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    1. Bikram am just as passionate as you are to see our team perform but the sic leadership in sports is a huge concern:( Thanks a lot for those words!

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  2. I loved the title exactly Indian Sports oh god :( how and who will help them is the question!!!

    Awesome details covered Rahul Sir.
    I hope we do very well in this London Olympics

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    1. Thanks Ramya, and I know all right thinking people are concerned by way our systems are managed! I too wish that our gold hunt is fruitful this time!

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  3. Beautiful commentary on the situation.

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  4. It is really sad how in spite of being the national game, hardly anyone can name the captain of the Indian Hockey Team, but know every minute detail about everyone in the cricket team. Very well-written, sir.

    Best wishes from Kolkata Knight Writers. :)

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    1. and hockey is our national game..

      But this year hopefully , please have all your fingers crossed , the hockey boys will do good.. and as the EX indian captain Rajpal singh said ..

      "HUM Abhi se kya batayen kya hamare dil main hai" when asked what does their heart say on winning the medal..

      the likes of sardar singh, shreejesh,Sandeep Singh, shivendra , raghunath and the rest will make us proud.. god willing
      THe new captain is Chetri the goal keeper..

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    2. Sudeshna, a huge thanks for following my blog and your kind words.I was really impressed by your style of writing! Wish you and the KKR team the very best too:)

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    3. Bikram, I sincerely pray that the gold hunt in hockey is fruitful this time!

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  5. Rahul sir, just today hubby and I were discussing the benifits of holding a mega event like CWG and Olympics for a country. Instead of putting all that cash inflow into building a good infrasturcture how that money always finds itself in the pockets of the already rich politicans. This so supports your point, wrong people leading the sports body!

    And one more very important point which you have highlighted was "As most sportsmen play only till the age of 35 years they should be given employment just for participation in sports"
    There is absolutely zero motivation for people to get into sports(except cricket ofcourse).. too much of money flow into cricket(now that ipl has come) and nothing left for others.

    In our country, only movie stars, politcians and cricketres make the ellite super super rich class. And the irony is we are make the rich richer and richer and richer!

    Sorry for the burst of thoughts, but I really feel very strongly about this. Such a hard hitting post. Wonderful read and well written post after my read hiatus, Rahulji!

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    1. Jenny your comments are like an icing on the cake of this humble post!I know that any right thinking person will nod in affirmative to what you wrote!A sad situation we are in:( Thanks a lot for liking the post!

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  7. I was a big Cricket Fan few years ago. But not now. I read in some novel how Australia become a strong sporting nation. They performed rather badly in 60s or 70s Olympics and then they decided to concentrate. As you said in our country things are considered from a personal level.

    I hate the recent glamour element in sports, IPL, 20-20. Very thought provoking post and also very valid.

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    1. Saru, I played Cricket and heard commentary on radio but the present situation does not even move me to switch on the TV! I would rather see Roger Federer play in Wimbledon:)The world has leap frogged while we have regressed:(

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  8. Rahul you give excellent measures to stem the rot,but how will the suckers & leeches enjoy free trips if all this is implemented?No way.

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    1. Absolutely right Indu! The leeches will fall only when they have sucked us dry:(

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  9. This whole south Asia is lazy, never mind in almost everything.

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  10. Hi Rahul, good choice of topic, India is well known around the world for their exceptional cricket playing and, at one time, hockey as well. I've noticed so much passion in the people and players while watching matches on tv, its what they live and thrive for. I hadn't known about all the political involvement until you bright it to my attention now. I hope that your sporting teams are able to rise above all the drama, fame-hungry money-mongers and corruption and play for the love of it. Wishing them all the best for the Olympics :)

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    1. Thank you Sam for your views and support for the Indian contingent for Olympics:)I only hope things start getting better as there is a huge potential!

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  11. All the points are so true!..Very informative and enlightening post..
    All such things will make our children and even may be our grandchildren still read...."India is a developing country"

    It's very sad that in India...Only cricket is given importance....I watch other sports also...Hope everyone will start encouraging other sports...

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    1. Thanks Valli and what you say is so true! I wish you should be able to see India developed in true sense in your own lifetime:)

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  12. Well it is not only India that has this problem. I think we have in a worst manner in Sri Lanka. If you listened to Kumar Sangakkara's speech last year in Lords it says it all. He got a standing oration for it. He told it in more or less words to the plight the politician put our sports in. It is on youtube if you like to hear it.
    www.thoughtsofpaps.com

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    1. Thank you PAPS and I agree that the story is same all over the sub continent! Thanks for sending that link to the speech delivered by Kumar Sangakkara!

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  13. I am not really a big sports fan but I did enjoy reading your commentary :) :) It is a pity that everything in India gets politicized...It is also a pity that despite having over a billion people, we do not have the infrastructure or the facilities to train citizens into winning every possible sporting event!

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    1. Only hope that some day our leadership prioritize the right things, Divya! Thanks a lot for your comment

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  14. i so agree wid all ur points uncle...india needs to grow n the 1st step would be to realize cricket is not everythin its not analogous to sports on the whole in reality...and mingling sports wid endorsemnts and selection process on basis of favortsm is another sad phenomenon...hope the face of indian sports unit improves soon...amazin post...:)

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    1. Thanks you Vaisakhi, my nice teammate, to agree with me:)Wish that you can see your dreams getting fulfilled in a stronger India with changing times:)

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  15. I wonder how Hockey is called out national sport even though the whole limelight is given away to cricket everytime! A very well written post.

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    1. I myself wonder that why we only do lip service where we should focus whole hog, Ria! A big thanks !

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  16. A very calm and measured commentary on the state of affairs of sports in our country. You seem to have done a fair bit of research, which I like. Good work

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    1. A big thanks Sandy for those kind words! Actually this post was written in 30 minutes flat with some some scratching of head to remember some names:)

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  17. This is a very passionate and well written post.; I am not too much into sports but do follow your train of thoughts.;)
    xoxo

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    1. A big thanks Zuzana for your comment:)

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  18. This is very true <3 Great post :)

    love
    http://www.meghasarin.blogspot.com

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  19. Well written, Rahul! It is indeed disheartening to see the situation of sports and sports bodies. I know miracles don't happen in sports. Perseverance and talent can only take you so far. It is good training facilities, coaches, right equipment that works today. But, there is a general apathy.

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    1. Saddening indeed and wish we are able to set our priorities right, Rachna:(

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  20. Well said. Sports should be a part of the curriculum / for fun, not competition. And favouritism goes against the spirit of sports.

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  21. Nice post. I agree with you.

    Have a great weekend.

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  22. Thanks Eden for your remark! Have a nice weekend too:)

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  23. I completely agree, Rahul. Sports bodies should be headed by former sportsmen, who will atleast know the problems faced by the sports men and the way the sports are played. Politicians will not be able to do justice as heads of sports bodies, as they are far removed from the games. You raise some great points.

    Btw..loved the poem. Wondering how I missed it :(

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    1. Thanks a lot, Rachna for your comment! It is always nice to hear from you:)

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  24. I think there is another factor that hampers our medal prospects. It's the over emphasis on education and jobs. In other words, we want to be inside a safety net, always. If that attitude continues, we can't really hope to do much even in 2020 Olympics.

    Destination Infinity

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    1. Agree about having safety net. Hence suggested to employ people of calibre in sports in any job and pay salary just to play!

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  25. Yey! Thank God! At least few people know hockey is national sports of India. And Indian politicians, movie actors, cricketers are alike! Nice post!

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    1. Thanks a lot Kusum! The path to salvation will not be easy:)

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  26. Thanks Rahul, wishing you a wonderful and relaxed weekend!

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  27. Eye opener Rahul. But havent we been yelling the same thing for years now? Cricket will stay as mainstream and other sports will be given a step motherly treatment. Its pathetic to read Sahana kumari needed help from twitteratis and public support to go to London. And guess what? she has not got the players card and hence waiting for Visa. All for country's glory!

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  28. Thanks a lot! I know the situation is unlikely to change anytime in near future:(

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  29. Great blog! Very stylish and well diversified. :)
    Welcome to my blog: http://photographyismyexistence.blogspot.com/
    Yours. Patricja [;

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  30. If we give at least half the importance we are giving to money on Real talent available, we would have reached the top spots in Olympics long back. it's a pity that the second most populated country fails to win even 10 medals at the Olympics. Things have started changing, Hope they change , in a positive way.

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  31. Hope this won in the contest. Very well articulated and measures outlined. But like Indu has pointed out, if these were to be implemented, how would the officials and others benefit from the free junkets abroad?

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  32. A sincere thanks Zephyr for your appreciation! It is easier said than done for anything which has sound logic in India:( This post helped in pushing the team rating a few notches up:)

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  33. Read in today's papers that 6 athletes had to share one bathroom early in the morning at the Olympics. Just imagine their predicament on the day that they are supposed to perform.

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    1. Welcome to my blog Haddock! The team management is too thick skinned to think of basic comforts to those from whom they expect glory by giving them peanuts:(

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  34. Here's my take - I think sports bodies should be run by sports people with Corporate setup. Which means, a former sportperson should head the HR and Operations front and a businessman should look after the financials and marketing. I am only going by "horses for courses" concept sir :)

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  35. Agree with all your views Binu! Thanks a lot:)

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