The news for a past few days has had the ‘Breaking News’ element filled with reports of the Indian Contingent bagging three individual medals at the Beijing Olympics. Kudos to the team and the winners! For me, what has added to the prevailing joy is the fact that, for a change, cricket was not making much news, even though an Indian–Sri Lanka series has been on for a while.
Does this imply that maybe, just maybe, Indians have started looking at sports beyond cricket?
There have been people who have, time and again, highlighted the issue of how much we ignore other sports in our cricket-mania. And frankly speaking, this does require serious consideration especially with the Commonwealth games just around the corner. There have been those who have commented with immense pride that cricket is not just a game but a religion in India. I deem it necessary to mention why the game has assumed such importance over the years. The most prominent and dominating reason is that it is a very ‘people friendly’, easy and an affordable game to play. Have we not seen children playing despite a thousand constraints (from space crunch to team member crunch) with just a few adjustments? Besides, the amount of innovative rules that one can come up with in a game like cricket (the gali, muhalla, one tip one hand etc) are few. Now with league cricket providing great remuneration, it is a very exciting career option as well. However, we have reached a stage where we are getting an excessive dosage of the game.
We are definitely not yet a Sports country. Even though we might be harbouring immense potential, we are nowhere close to harnessing it in the right way. Where does the problem lie? Many of us would promptly reply that the problem is because India does not have the infrastructure required; and that there is too much politics involved.
The problem is that we don’t demand the right things at the right time. If there could have been a collective effort to ensure an increase in DA and salaries in various government sectors, then why can’t we collectively demand proper administration in sports? Why, and till what point of time are we going to underestimate our power as a nation? Our cricketers have become national icons; why not Anjali Bhagwat or Leander Paes or Dilip Tirkey?
All kinds of sports and athletes must be given the respect that they deserve.
Moreover, we should try and make sports an important part of the election agenda, instead of caste, creed etc. because sports is a language that most people understand.
From silver we have moved to gold; from one we moved to three and now there should be no looking back. Criticism alone will lead us nowhere. A little, just a little effort, a little initiation is needed. Come, let us create history.
[Image Source: http://www.tribuneindia.com/2006/20060401/spr3.jpg]