The Indian outlook on sports

Reflecting on our disappointing performance at the Rio Olympics just a few months ago, it’s safe to say that Indians generally tend to think that sports are not “worthy of being careers”.

The Rio Olympics began and concluded in August this year, and India managed to only secure 2 medals. In addition to this poor tally, we were also told stories about how our bureaucrats and representatives did everything but what was necessary to support our athletes, from strolling the beaches instead of attending the events and making the athletes sleep in economy. Now I don’t want to talk about the whole thing because it’d be a worthless re-run of my blog “India in Rio”. The point that I’m trying to make, though, is that these issues are still running strong, whether or not we choose to forget them. I remember how everyone was running around talking about how much of a shame it was that our government didn’t invest in our athletes. Now, I’d be surprised if these same people could even name the athletes that won those medals.

At the time of writing this, Virat Kohli is dominating cricket like few others have, but apart from our cricket team, what world-class teams have we produced? Not too many that you can name. Much of this can be attributed to a number of factors.

Job Security

You can’t tell me Indians don’t like secured jobs that guarantee returns. The problem, traditionally is that we are so reluctant to explore new avenues, especially when it could mean financial turmoil. We prefer a secured yet limited life rather than an adventurous one. Sports are much more complicated and obviously, have a greater risk factor and even if you’ve made it to the top of the chain, there’s no guarantee you’re staying there.

As a result, sports is just looked at as “extra-curricular activity”.

Political will

I think this was manifested quite clearly in the blunder at the Olympics. Politicians roamed Rio’s beaches and misspelled athletes’ names on official documents. There is a great lack of political will to professionalize sports. This could be because societal ideas dictate that sports aren’t acceptable and take no ‘hard work’ and are generally a time waste.

Infrastructure and funding

Due to the lack of enthusiasm and incentive, funding sports has never been considered, resulting in the lack of adequate infrastructure, equipment, and training that we need to bring out and train talented athletes.

Incentive and fame

If we’re trying to find star talent, we have to enforce policies that make it enticing to pursue. Post-retirement funds for retired Olympians and so on.

You will also never see young sportspersons in academic institutions being publicized, you know who wins that chance to be on the poster outside school? It is the academic topping nerd who garners 99% in his exams who is publicized on posters.

Conclusion

I think we can take an important lesson from this issue. Trying to enforce something isn’t temporary, it’s an ongoing effort that needs to be strengthened for change to happen. We’ve experienced the hue and cry that social media keyboard warriors raged against the government for the Rio Olympics, but unfortunately for most people it was just “trending” so they chose to write huge posts about the right and wrongs of the situation and they’ve surely forgotten it now.

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