We live in a world that is changing. Yet, India's sports bodies do not want to change. This implies that either our sports administrations are superior to other countries or we have interests other than sports and prestige of the country guiding our actions.
The onus to bring in the change falls on the sports ministry. It is here that the surgeon's knife, which cuts to heal, is required. If this is termed as intervention, then it is life-saving intervention. In short, we have to rescue sports from administrative apathy and lethargy.
Sports bodies are crying foul over infringement of autonomy. The writing is on the wall — governments that have set their house in order have become major sporting nations. The US (Ted Stevens and Amateur Sports Act 1998), South Africa (National Sports and Recreation Act 1998), France (France Code of Sports), last amended in 2006, Sri Lanka (Sports Act 2005) and Malaysia (Sports Development Act 1997), are a few examples.
Let's consider the key issues being introduced via the Bill:
Sportspersons to be part of the governing body.
A governing body is the highest decision-making entity and the presence of sportspersons will provide the much-needed technical expertise while taking important decisions in the interest of the sport.
Sports bodies to come under the Right to Information Act (RTI).
Administering sports is a public obligation, not a private business. It gives administrators privileges and also shoulders them with responsibilities. Coming under the RTI Act has its advantages. Transparency in the functioning of sports bodies will encourage corporates to extend financial support, something that is lacking in the present environment. The decadence in sports bodies and the way they are perceived is the result of lack of transparency, and the RTI Act will go a long way in ameliorating the situation.
Age and tenure limit.
A sports body ought to be the opposite of a permanent residence. It should be an active ground for ideas --- administrators on their toes just as athletes are, because that's when you are poised to perform.
The occupants fire a counter charge, "The prime minister does not have an age or tenure limit so why should we?" This suggests the absurdity of the argument. The closest example should have been the Charter of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which limits age and tenure. It is followed in many countries including the US and China, yet the IOC does not recommend it for India. Twelve years, as the suggested tenure cap, is long enough for policies to be implemented and their results to be seen.
The mantra for success in any field is adaptation and innovation, infusion of ideas and a good dose of young blood. In sports too, this is the path to follow and the road to success has to begin by changing the way our sports bodies are organised and the way our mandarins work.