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It's time to be a sport, India

By HT Brand Studio | Mar 03, 2017

SOURCE: Tata Tea

Alarm Bajne Se Pehle, Jaago Re

Our general attitude to sports and sportspersons in the country today has become this– quick to criticize, but apathetic to making any real change. Our attitude towards sports is the biggest issue in the field today.






Last year, as Team India was battling it out at Rio, socialite Shobha De's infamous tweet sent the online community afire. De attracted controversy for stating that Indian athletes only went to the Olympics to take selfies and return empty-handed. Unfortunately, her words sum up our general attitude to sports and sportspersons in the country today – quick to criticize, but apathetic to making any real change.

Several sportspersons including Abhinav Bindra and Jwala Gutta spoke up against De's snide comment; however, the general state of sports in India can hardly be changed by silencing any one detractor. And while it's easy to criticize an athlete during the few seconds when they face the spotlight, not too many of us spare a thought for the hurdles they face on the way.

Obstacle race

SOURCE: Hindustan Times

In India, these hurdles come in various shapes and sizes: from poor infrastructure to the general discouragement handed out to those aiming for a career in sports. For starters, any sport that is not cricket is easily relegated to the background—until it's time for, say, the Olympics or the Asian Games. These international championships have been ongoing since eons, and instead of getting our troops in shape on time, we would rather rant and rail once the battle's lost.

This is particularly unfortunate for a country like India, which does not lack in motivation, sporting talent, or genetic diversity, but nonetheless fails its sportspersons time and again due to lack of basic facilities.

Lose-lose

Let's take a look at some of the problems faced by competitive athletes in India today. To begin with inadequate funds are allocated for training and equipment of sportspersons who are nonetheless expected to perform superlatively at the international level. The same goes for infrastructure—most athletes, even after achieving some level of recognition, are left to practice with outdated equipment. In addition, most governing bodies in charge of sporting activities are rife with bureaucracy and red tape, with a majority of government funds as well as private sponsorship being sucked in to feed the nation's cricket craze. Compare, for example, the media attention given to a cricket premier league, with that given to gymnastics or an archery tournament.

But, worst of all, what Indian athletes face time and again is lack of respect for their sport, their commitment, and their skills. Despite battling insurmountable odds and making it to international events, most athletes encounter harsh criticism on failure, and only short-lived applause after success.

Pre-act, don't react

As the latest video from the Jaago Re campaign tries to illustrate, we have all the time to act while the problem is manageable – in this case, by supporting a talented young footballer right from the outset – instead of waking up once his team has already lost. If we expect our footballers to shine on the world stage, should we at least not ensure that they have proper ground to train on? And when was the last time your angry tweet about the miserable state of sports actually made a difference?

Outrage is an easy and often an inadequate way out, especially if your involvement with the cause is limited to that one candlelit march or a series of social media posts. Real change takes decades of effort with barely any of the glamour. It requires people who are up and on the job way before crisis strikes. Most importantly, it needs an entire generation of snoozers to start acting now.

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Tags #JaagoreSports in IndiaInfrastructureFacilitiesTata Tea