As the Beijing Olympics gets into the middle stages, two countries have left others way behind as far as the medals go – USA and China. It could be said that the two seem to be following Henry Ford’s assembly line production when it comes to winning medals. China has won 24 gold medals while the US has won 14 gold although in the total US has 44 medals to its tally when compared to China which has 38.
( http://www.rediff.com/sports/oly08-medals.html )
India languishes at 24th place currently with the lone medal of Abhinav Bindra who is now the ‘toast of the nation‘. Every state wants to cash on the laurels of this Chandigarh shooter by awarding him cash rewards and accolades. A lone gold till now at the Olympics makes one wonder, Can India ever match China and the USA when it comes to winning medals at the Olympics?
The present state of affairs in sports in the country would provide the answer! Several reasons can be attributed to this sad state of affairs pertaining to sports in our country. A look at the barrage of comments in the previous post shows the degree of concern among Indians.
( India at Beijing Olympics 2008 | Watch Videos of Beijing Olympics 2008 )
Some of the primary impediments which need to be addressed to prepare a ‘medal-winning contingent’ for the next Olympics would be:
(a) Promotion of sports:
In a country like India, if one wishes to take to a sport and pursue, there are several issues the individual needs to think such as livelihood and others. This is where the Governments, both at the center and state need to come up with funding to sustain the needs of the sportsmen so that they may pursue their sport without any worry. In other words, they would have to ADOPT sportsmen and ensure that their requirements are met at every level. This could be in the form of scholarships or endorsements. Sponsorship from companies needs to increase which in turn would result in the sportsmen getting financially secured.
(b) Development of Infrastructure:
Unless a sport is taken up as a priority ruing the absence of medals makes no sense during the Olympics. Allocation and more importantly, PROPER Utilization of funds is required for different sports to flourish. The other day I read a comment from one of the shooters who said that their ammunition was not good enough to compete with the top shooters.
(c) Better Governance:
Several Federations are being ‘run’ by the same set of people. A reflection of the same can be had from hockey which was headed by the same person for a long time. This lead to a kind of anarchy which eventually caused to the sport to deteriorate. The result is in front of us today, hockey is down in the dumps, trying to recover to its original status.
These things are easy to be discussed but when it comes to implementation, they begin to fade away. Another issue that troubles the nature of sports in India is the ‘following’. How many children take to rowing, athletics, or archery? It is the lack of facilities and the above factors which play a role in their being relegated to be taken by a select few. A reality check- How many of us prefer to watch an archery event or another sport being aired on National Channel as compared to a cricket match? We have the answer.
Sports in India are not packaged owing to the poor and low rewards and money in them. Adulation is short-lived and so is the public following. The sports bodies do not package their respective sports which also raises questions on the way the respective bodies are managed. Ambassadors for different sports are hard to find and if there are any then they fade away to oblivion after some time. Examples are many such as Jaspal Rana who made headlines with his shooting at one point in time but since then has created little news. Even for that reason, how many individuals on the street and children would know about Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore as compared to a Sachin or Saurav?!
Well, concerns are many and we all know that they need to be addressed. I guess at some level it’s about ‘awakening’ and asking questions. Just a passing thought- Won’t it be a nice idea to have lead India campaign for different sports and their bodies and let them be governed by individuals who are accountable to the nation?
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