Time for Change

It is now nearly three months since the Olympics ended, the “Best” Olympics our country ever had. While the country rejoiced, many hoped this was a sign of improvement we could expect from the future editions of the Games. But, have we so far even moved an inch forward from where we were pre-Olympics? Or are we going to wait for London 2012 to almost come upon us to suddenly start looking for improvements?

Unfortunately, in our current sporting structure, I don’t see how we can move forward, unless our sportsmen work independently like Abhinav Bindra did. Suresh Kalmadi is only basking in other people’s glory, and has nothing to claim from the three medals we won. It wouldn’t have been any different had anyone else been in the post. People have said it again and again that we need a massive revamp, but why it isn’t happening is unfathomable. Is the Government too scared to try to make changes? Well, they should probably realize that if they give the Sports Minister’s post to an ex-sportsman, they would have booked the votes of a major portion of the young people.

Lessons need to be learned from our Golf association. Barring the problem a couple of years ago when the players rebelled against the PGAI, which led to the formation of the new tour called the Professional Golfers Tour of India, the sport has remained away from any form of controversy and is only growing from strength to strength. Forget tennis, golf is India’s next big Sport. Go to any course during the summers and you will see throngs of kids attending the summer training programmes. Year after year the game is getting bigger, and players are winning more often. Jeev Milkha Singh won two events, Arjun Atwal won two (including one on the Nationwide Tour, which is the PGA Tour’s second tier, Jyoti Randhawa has been consistent as ever, and more and more players are making a name for themselves. There is SSP Chowrasia, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Anirbhan Lahiri, and also some juniors who look set to become big names in the game, like Rashid Khan and Rahul Bakshi. How is it that Golf is growing so fast as compared to other sports? For one, there association consists nearly entirely of current and former players, with the exception of Hero Honda’s CEO Pawan Munjal, who is there to provide some strong business ethics to the association. Which other sport can say that their players hold such a strong control over the body that governs them?

The changes need to start ringing in sooner rather than later, or else we would have to again hail a return of three medals with as much fervor as we did this year. Why are we so proud of that achievement? If we consider the population to medal ratio of all countries that participated at the Games, we would be close to the foot of the table. It is time the rein of sports is given to those who understand sports, and those people are most definitely not the likes of Suresh Kalmadi, who called winning an Olympic medal at Beijing a “miracle” even before the Games began. Get the likes of eminent personalities like Kapil Dev, Milkha Singh and PT Usha to sort out this mess called Indian Sports.

Raveesh Bhalla

[Image Source: http://flickr.com/photos/roochster/123563378/]