Here’s a wager tough to lose: Even before the sports minister got a whiff, a journalist was busy scribbling down the names of India’s premier sports awards Monday afternoon.
The moment the selection committees finished their short-listing, long nurtured contacts called up their favourite newsmen to rattle out the names of our Arjuna and Dronacharya award winners. If it wasn’t a former sportsman, then it was your trusted administrator eager to score an I-am-telling-you-so-you-owe-me-one. If 15 members knew by afternoon, hundreds of journalists were certain by the evening.
This is nothing novel, it happens all the time. To the extent that news organisations now do away with the cautionary ‘likely’, or ‘short listed for' when they tell their readers about it. So certain are we that everybody will have it that few sports editors give the listings pride of place in sports pages.
The actual awards ceremony, as such, never has any suspense from a news point of view. Further, a litany of complaints from presumed and genuinely slighted nominees begin to make the headlines in the run up to the awards casting an unnecessary shadow over the joy of some recipients.
Sports minister MS Gill has shown rare spine for an incumbent with his charge in taking on issues like banning sportspersons with aspirations of hoisting the Indian flag even if their passports refuse to sport the lions of Ashoka. His rap to the cricketing prima donnas for their cavalier attitude to the awards ceremony was also fitting. It’s time he got his babus to cloak the final selections from the press hawks. That would enhance the sanctity of India’s premier sporting honours while ensuring blanket coverage of the actual ceremony. If the minister is unable to plug this, then he could just dignify it by making an official statement just after the selection.
There may be a lot amiss in the way the final list is concretised. Even if all the other ills need great debate to figure, this one is a no-brainer. And it’s far more important than swanky new redesigned trophies.