Friday, June 09, 2006

ABSENCE OF A SPORTING CULTURE

My father is interested in sports and games and that is the reason why my siblings and me do the same. My mother has the habit of making expert comments when she is least expected to. The football world cup is going to kick off from today and last night there was the mandatory discussion in the house.

My father was dismayed that countries like Togo and Trinidad and Tobago have made it to the biggest prize in football while India with a population that is one sixth of the worlds’ is down in the list. Many theories have been offered to explain the failure in mainstream sporting events (read non-cricket). A common reason is the lack of facilities and the lack of government support and patronage to sports like football. Notwithstanding the presence of people like K P S Gill, Priyaranjan Dasmunshi and Suresh Kalmadi and scores of others who are least interested in the health of sports or the sportspersons, I have a different theory.

As Indians, we don’t have a sporting culture or tradition. How many Indian parents encourage their children to take to sports seriously? How many families treat sporting events as family get togethers? Poverty is often cited as a reason for the lack of attention given to sports. In that case, no world class athlete or sportsperson would have come out of Africa or South America. I have come across parents who do not want to have cable television in the home for the fear of spoiling the children from watching sports and games.

We have awards in sports that are named after mythological characters like Arjuna or Dronacharya. There is no award that is named after a famous athlete. That is something which surely does not inspire Indians to take to sports.

My mother was not very much enthusiastic when my brothers and me used to play. She was more concerned about studies and our careers. The discussion ended when she commented that Indians are more interested in watching daily soaps on the television.

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