The holistic development of sports in India has to be made in a concerted manner. ‘Will this be a good idea to siphon some of the money from cricket to the other sports for equitable distribution?’ — writes ANANYA S. GUHA
There does not seem me to be much flutter about Saina Nehwal entering the finals of the All England.After all she is the third Indian to do this, and there was every chance that she could make it, the other finalist was seeded lower than her. But a runners up in the most prestigious World Championship in the world is a great achievement to say the least, but there was very little noise let alone the famed Indian celebrations. But the reasons are not far to seek, cricket the apotheosis of both the masses and the classes is now ruling the roost with the World Cup in progress in Australia. And India is apparently tipped to win it. We in India we suffer from plenty ( cricket and IPL) and at the other end of the dark tunnel is the BPL. But cricket is a god, no matter how BCCI functions, no matter how politicised this august body has become, no matter if one of its former Presidents had the cheek to defy the Supreme Court, yet showed his power, after his ‘; men ‘; romped home to power in the recent elections. Other sports or games take a clownish back seat, be it hockey, football, or athletics. If players in this arena achieve laurels they do it by sheer dint of hard work. Cricket which is a direct outcome of the Raj syndrome was deified to such an extent that cricketers in India in the Test Team originally came from the priveledged classes of society. The trend has been reversed now, but with all the money pumped into the game the small town lower middle class cricketers, thanks to BCCI’;s largesse have benefited munificently. So they have become multi- skilled from cricketers to reality show experts and also to ad men and vapid humorists. They can also take liberties with their otherwise unimpeachable behaviour ( see Virat Kohli).
And, of course the IPL. The argument is that local players get a chance to prove their mettle and of course their bank balances. But if a poor shooter complains that he deserved more in the form of national accolades he is dubbed as greedy and his behaviour dubbed unbecoming. Saina Nehwal met with the same fate. We want disengenuousness not honest talk. Football which was till quite recently a poor man’;s game is now getting the deserved attention with some glitzy sponsorships, but it is to be seen to what extent local and national talent gets the spotlight. In the sixties, seventies and eighties teams from North East India used to perform very well at the junior level in football, but very little was done to promote talent. Now there are many playing in the National League, but it remains to be seen how well this will serve as a national cause.
Unfazed by all this Leander Paes continues to make history in tennis, but the accolades are minimalist to say the least. After all this is only ‘; mixed doubles ‘;. After all he continues to have spats with his colleague. That women athletes are more than making a mark in the Common Wealth games, hardly any pointer to this feat are made by our pundits.
But cricket is our demi god. Cricket breathes dementia, dementia of the masses, call them fans, dementia of cricketers besotted at times by bad behaviour, dementia of a power mongering BCCI, abetted by politicians who are out to vitiate this time honoured body which has rendered in the past so much service to the game. Not to say the selectors are not doing their jobs, they are indeed doing a great one, but they and members of the technical committee etc are mute witness to the goings on.
The holistic development of sports in the country has to be made in a concerted manner, and not in a gross preferential manner. In fact it would be a good idea to siphon some of the money from cricket to the other sports for equitable distribution. Otherwise national hockey players may continue to reside in a second class railway apartment on the eve of a national tournament. This happened over a decade back.
It is high time we declass sports in our country!