Wednesday, May 02, 2007

LACK OF A SPORTING CULTURE

India lost to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in the world cup. This loss prevented the team advancing to the Super 8s, despite the thumping win over Bermuda.

New Delhi lost out to the South Korean city of Incheon to host Asian Games, despite the best efforts of the likes of Suresh Kalmadi.

FIFA head Sepp Blatter visited India in the company of the Chief of Asian Football Confederation. Blatter made a visit to the big clubs of Calcutta and their facilities. After the visit, Blatter remarked that the clubs could not make much improvement to their original facilities of more than 100 years. The Chief of AFC warned that Indian football does not have the quality to compete with the best teams even after 100 years.

Predictably, the defeat of India and the failure to host the Asian Games resulted in a lot of heat and buck passing. The blame game has not ended and the wheels are in a sort of a perpetual motion.

These three events should not be looked or dealt in isolation. They are the symptoms of a malady. It is well known that politicians or at least wannabe politicians today are after sports bodies. The only thing that they know and take care is themselves. Often the trade-off is the well being of the sportspersons and the sport itself.

The Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs is often headed by people who are very old or have the least inclination to show any interest in sports and games except for the game of verbal volleys of the worst kind.

However, the poor showing of the country in the sphere of international sporting arena has to do a lot with the sporting culture of the lack of it. As a nation, sporting pursuits are not given any priority. We have educational institutions where there are no playgrounds. Parents abhor the idea that their wards take part in sports and games. The idea of getting dirty and taking bruises is something that is loathed upon in a big way.

There are no instances where watching sporting events in the stadia is a family affair. The only exception is that the family gets together is to watch soap operas of the worst kind.

Awards instituted by the Government to honour sportspersons are even named after mythical superheroes.

So, let us not regard a sporting failure as a national disgrace. After all, we are firm believers in the idea that participation is more important that winning.

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