When it comes to recognition — snatching it from the deserving rather than earning it the right way — we, Indians, are second to none. The newest spoilsports are our athletes. Despite the few medals, they did not exactly cover themselves in glory at the recent Olympics. This newspaper has come out with a report of how some of our athletes are turning the highest honour in sports coaching — the Dronacharya award — into a family business. Yes, such malpractices are not a prerogative of our netas alone.
The rules of this game are simple. Suppose you are an athlete basking in the glory of a recent success, preferably of an Olympian order. While the country can barely contain its excitement over your feat, you quietly put in a good word or two for your ‘mentor’ to the award’s jury, which clearly doesn’t seem to have any discretionary power.
There are two ways to go about doing this. Either name anyone from your clan as your coach, as long-jumper Anju Bobby George and discus throwers Krishna Poonia and Neelam Jaswant Singh have done in recommending their husbands. Their success may be the result of the blood, sweat and tears of foreign coaches. But when it came to the award and the cash prize of Rs 5 lakh, the ladies decided to keep it all in the family.
Another way to go about this is by naming more than one coach. Take the case of ace wrestler Sushil Kumar. In his name, Ramphal and Satpal, his alleged trainers, have already received the prestigious award in 2009 and 2011. However, this year, Yashvir, another of Mr Kumar’s coaches, has popped up to stake his claim to the honour.
We wonder how our athletes will counter these allegations. A lacklustre apology or a mild condemnation is the best we are likely to get. Instead, we suggest that our athletes package their mistake as a well-thought-out strategy to get even with a system that’s always meted out stepmotherly treatment to them.
That should shift the focus on to the sports authorities. The never-ending debates on the state of our sportspersons on news channels will deflect from this issue also. Now if you will excuse us, we, the faceless edit writers, must get together to try and ensure that no one else takes the credit for our work.