Parents and teachers in Delhi chose studies as the most important aspect for the future of their children, according to a survey. They felt participating in sports hindered a child’s performance in class.
The Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Science, Fortis Hospital, conducted a survey on 1010 randomly chosen parents a month before the Rio Olympics.
81% of the participants said focussing on studies is most important for the child’s future, while 70% agreed that it was not a good idea for children to go out and play during exams.
However, 85% said schools should give more importance to sports.
“Sports and academics need not be at opposing ends of the spectrum. It is a well-known fact that sports can play a significant role in one’s cognitive development in terms of planning, organization, goal setting, critical thinking and openness and flexibility in one’s thought processes. Physical activity is also an effective way to deal with stress,” said Dr Sameer Parikh, Director, Department of Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences, Fortis Healthcare.
The reason parents and teachers insist that children focus on academics is that education is considered to be a safe bet.
“People have a constant desire for social upward mobility and education is seen as the only way. To get into sports full-time and succeed in a way that is considered to be socially acceptable – have money and fame – it is very rare. Therefore children are forced to study,” said Dr SK Khandelwal, head of the department of psychiatry at All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
80% of parents and teachers who participated in the study felt sports is not a good career choice. 68% felt that it does not give financial stability. 82% thought sportspersons are not given enough respect in our country.
“People who get into sports have to fight the system to reach proper training facilities and then get support to compete internationally. Apart from cricket, money is not pumped into other sports; hence parents discourage children to take up sports professionally. On the other hand, there are several career choices if they study,” he added.
Parents and teachers feel the same -- 84% of the respondents felt children do not have easy access to sports facilities. But, 92% also expect to see India winning medals and feel disappointed when the country doesn’t do well in international tournaments.
“We as a country wait from Olympics to Olympics in the hopes of winning medals. But, we do nothing to prepare for the Olympics that will come four years from now. There is no encouragement or infrastructure for sportspersons in our country,” said Dr Parikh.
He feels that there is a need to improve infrastructure and provide encouragement and support to sportspersons. “The state support will also help in creating role-models. Even if one person consistently performs well in a sport, it encourages and gives hope to others who aspire to join the sport. The parents and teachers considered Sachin Tendulkar, Vishwanathan Anand and Saina Nehwal as role models for children,” said Dr Parikh.
“When something is in front of you, it encourages and gives hope to people. Cricket is one sport which is very popular and everybody wants their son to become like Tendulkar, Dhoni or Virat Kohli,” said Dr Khandelwal. This might be the reason for 31% of the respondents feeling that sports are more suitable for boys. “This perception will change when people get women role models like Sakshi Malik and PV Sindhu,” he said.