NEW DELHI: Year after year, Olympics after Olympics international competitions have been making us aware of India’s poor standings in the world of sports, No matter ‘what tournament is, India has a miserable performance to her discredit, India’s position in the tournament of calibre has been reduced to either being a ceremonial participant or a silent spectator. The records tumble every other day as we watch helplessly unable to catch up with the world, As the curtain fell on another dismal performance of India in Seoul Olympics, the writing on the wall became clear. Sport in India is dying slowly but steadily. As other nations basks in the glory of success Indians sweat in shame. What incapacitates Indians to salvage some international prestige and honor in the sporting arena? We asked over 400 national athletes and sportsmen best ‘equipped to answer.

Behind every world class performance lies a life time of discipline, unassuaged Passion and careful nurturing of talent. Significantly, the initiative from the schools in terms of motivation and facilities is very little; The stress in schools is to develop mental faculties to the detriment of physical ability. Physical education is considered to be a low grade subject and the number of students taking interest in the subject is minuscule, even at the university level, students Farley opt for this subject. Rakesh Sharma a table tennis player from Delhi said, “The ‘new educational policy formulated by the ‘government should have laid more emphasis on sport and physical training. It should be made mandatory right from the primary School to generate interest in young minds.”

Discussing the system of sport existing in sporting powers like the USSR and East Germany, a volleyball player from Haryana said, “There are millions of sportsmen within a national framework the product of a broad-based pyramid from which is formed the “sporting elite” who represents their country. Subash Chander a football player from Allahabad said, “A loving urge of parents to make their children doctors and engineers, defeats all purposes. Unfavorable social trends in our country too weigh heavily against sports.

More than 80 percent of sports as a profession were adopted by those who had Tower middle class background thereby stressing the fact that the vast majority of middle and upper class is averse to the idea of taking to sports as a career.

This reflects the social values of our educated majority. Deepak Dhiman of Himachal Pradesh with a definite rancour, “who wants to risk his career by going into sports? the probability of landing up as a clerk is the only future. The hard work put in sports is not compensated by what one become later in life”. The former international athletes, not to talk of penurious, national level players languishing for recognition and help, further dissuades one to take sports as a career.

The talent in sports is no different from the talent in art, music and science. Sports have a broad relevance to health, culture work and politics and may uniquely serve the purpose of nation building. Parul Vora, 1a basketball player from Rohallkand University said, “There is no dearth of talent in ‘our country, especially in tribal and rural areas. A correct approach and sincere implementation can go a long way in boosting sports. The need of the hour is to give scientific training using modern methodology to develop inborn skill In India however; even institutes like the NIS do not have modern facilities and latest ‘equipment. This results in the produce of average class coaches. Hence the average performances by the players.

Cricket, however, comes out to be something outside the ambit of sports in context of Indian reality a success story amidst ruins. Cricket provides everything what sports in general should provide monetary incentive, status, good job prospects and heroic recognition. The glamour attached to it in India has become a way of life, and with the wide following it has become a classic example of “pyramid system” that is, “quality out of quantity”. Supporting this observes Hardeep Singh, a former visit captain and an IPS officer, “Give sportsmen better career opportunities, more financial incentives, and the status they really deserve and the results will be fantastic.

An astounding 92 percent sportsman was of the view that better financial incentives be given at the national level to encourage sports as a career. The government and big industrial houses should jointly come forward to start more sports foundations where sportsmen should be given a fair chance to develop and sharpen their skills, without the burden of caring for their next meal.

Almost 99 percent of the athletes and sportsmen interviewed raised their voices against self-styled caretakers of Indian sports. Said Kavita Mukerjee of Delhi, “there is an intense ambition and desire in the hearts of office bearers of national federations to wrangle trips abroad sidetracking all major issues concerning sports.”

The infighting amongst the corruption infested federations has played havoc with ‘whatsoever talent that has surfaced. Players have been selected for reasons other than talent and this has resulted in demoralization of the sporting community. The virtues of power hungry officials have made them myopic and have incapacitated them from reading the writings on the wall,

But the sporting scenario has to change; the custodians of Indian sports have to respond to the call of the day. Sports in India has a cultural institution has to develop and develop increasingly towards progress; It has to be the essential part of social superstructure. Sports should not die it is the essence of human existence. It has to live, and live up to glory.

Article extracted from this publication >>  March 24, 1989