It is often said that if sportspersons play a prominent role in administration, there will be greater accountability and transparency in the running of sports federations in the country. In fact the draft sports bill, prepared at the initiative of the sport ministry by eminent judge Mukul Mudgal, envisages around 20 per cent of office-bearers in a federation to be from the playing fraternity. It is a move which will find unanimous support from all those who are sick of self-serving officials whose only aim in life is self-promotion.
Unfortunately, sportsmen themselves are not always above board and it has often been seen that once they cross over to the other side, they too are blinded by power and encourage nepotism.
Cricketer Kris Srikkanth, the loveable, absent-minded dasher of his times, is one shining example of how a player when he becomes part of the establishment forgets to draw a line between selfish needs and objectivity.
First he sullied the image of his fraternity by becoming the brand ambassador of the Chennai Super Kings in the IPL. In doing this, Srikkanth followed into the footsteps of his boss, N. Srinivasan, who cares little about the ethical propriety of his role as the Board secretary being in conflict with his role as a team owner.
Unlike Srinivasan, Srikkanth stopped associating himself openly with the Men in Yellow once there was a public outcry and he was no longer seen prancing with glee whenever the Super Kings hit a six or took a wicket in the IPL.
Srikkanth, one thought, had learnt his lesson well, though more disappointment was in store when, of all players, someone of the stature of Anil Kumble decided to become mentor of the Bangalore Royals, though he had already become president of the Karnataka Cricket Association. In his defence, Kumble might say there is no conflict of interest, but he should know that as office-bearer of a state association, he should not be seen promoting a private enterprise.
The most shocking and disturbing news came last week when Srikkanth, who is the chairman of the selection committee, decided to include his son, Anirudha, in the Indian Emerging team. Why scream hoarse, one might argue, as a father has every right to select a player, even if he happens to be his son.
The problem here is that Anirudha has done nothing noteworthy in first-class cricket to merit such attention. There are players far more deserving than him who have been ignored.
This was such a glaringly pathetic example of nepotism, made worse by a report in the Indian Express which quoted a selector saying: "When the chairman himself nominated him in the team, we had no choice but to support him."
Srikkanth has done grievous harm to the cause of all sportsmen who, like everyone else, don't want to see integrity being sacrificed at the altar of personal gain.