India is a huge country with a massive population. Our population is a resource for the nation. A country with the second largest population has won less Olympic gold medals than the United States swimmer, Michael Phelps, has won alone in a single edition of Olympics.
Today, every child either wants to be a doctor or engineer or do M.B.A. But why? Why not children go for sports as a career? One of the major reasons may be that there is no guarantee that they would be selected to play in the national squad. In India, only one sport i.e. cricket gets all the attention. All other sports have been totally neglected.
The “richer” sport is getting richer and other sports are almost dead. The condition of state level and university level sports are even worse. In countries like the U.S.A, many students choose sports as a career, they have a very solid infrastructure for sports and a remarkable proportion of its population earns huge money by playing sports only. Their sports start at the grass root level. Schools provide scholarships to students who excel in sports. Schools have proper coaching and playing facilities for students and sports is given the same importance as academics.
Their university level and state level organisation is also solid, with great funding. Players can earn a lot even at that level. In India, other than cricket, no sport has a good infrastructure. In other sports, even at national level, players don’t earn much. If a person has the ability to prove himself at international level, even then there is no backing and financial support from the sports authority. The athlete has to do it on his own.
Beijing Olympic gold medal winner Abhinav Bindra had his personal shooting range for practice. He clearly stated that the facilities provided by the authority were below par. The media showed where Olympic bronze medal winner wrestler Sushil Kumar had his training. There were not even basic facilities. How do we expect our sportsperson and athletes to win medals and tournaments when they are not even provided with basic facilities?
Hockey, which is the national sport of India, does not live up to its moniker. The national team has not won any significant tournament in the recent past. There is not even a permanent controlling body for the sport. Children in India don’t even know if there are sports other than cricket! Cricket is a sport which children can play anywhere without spending much money on equipment. Many regions in India don’t have even a park for children to play.
It has to start at the grass root level if sports are to become a source for income for the Indian population. In developed countries like the U.S.A, there are grounds and sports complex for every sport everywhere. Children grow up playing with proper equipments and in the same environment. They don’t have to adapt to any changes when they make transition to competitive level.
Here in India, even if children are interested in a sport, then first of all coaching is not available easily, secondly no proper grounds are available for practice and most importantly, children don’t get proper exposure to competition. In India, a sport gets recognition only when a sportsperson wins a major tournament of his sport. But why wait for an athlete to win a tournament to give that sport some importance? Something has to be done so that athletes don’t waste their talent sitting in front of a computer doing accounting.
India has such a huge population, with a lot of untapped talent, which, if given a chance, can do wonders at international level. The cricket extravaganza known as IPL has helped find a lot of great talent, which otherwise would have lost in the crowd. The franchisees pay these young men handsomely to play for them. The involvement of popular Bollywood faces didn’t hurt it. This is what every sport needs. Proper budget, advertisement, endorsement from popular faces and most importantly television deals.
Lack of government interest is also hurting the state of sports in India, sports is given the least priority. The government needs to understand that sports are a solution for unemployment and poverty issues. It can raise the standard of living of Indian societies. The rate at which our sports are developing is really slow, we should learn from China, who in a short period of time has reached the top of sports world.
Middle class families don’t even think about putting their children in sports, it’s only the financially strong families who back their children to pursue sports as a career. Every news channel has cricket specialists discussing and analysing cricket matches and other cricket related news everyday, while all other sports are wrapped up in 10-15 minutes. The media has to play an important role in recognising and popularising sports other than cricket. The youth is the future of any country and sports is the future of the whole world and it’s the responsibility of the youth to create awareness about different sports and take positive steps in that direction.