Friday, October 15, 2010

Be a sport....

The curtain has just come down on CWG 2010 and the media has been overflowing with medal-news, and for very good reason. India has put up a great performance, and the efforts of all athletes, who have or not have won a medal, must be applauded. It was a great show. The grit of Saina, the tenacity of Jwala and Ashwini, or the sheer dogged persistence of Harminder (bronze medal in 20 km walk, in case you missed him.) The medal sweep in women's discus, or the gold in women's 4x400 relay. Many more. Not to forget the unheralded heroes of swimming and gymnastics.
 Picture Courtesy - Google
I was watching an NDTV debate focusing on the future of Indian sports, and whether the medal bonanza will give a much-needed boost to Indian sports. While watching the debate, this question popped in my head.
What place does spectator involvement hold in a sport getting promoted?

Look at how the sports rules have changed in past years to make them more spectator-friendly. Table-tennis changed, badminton changed, hockey changed. Come on, even CRICKET's changed. Let's not forget the fact that the most popular sport in the world is football. The stadium can hold thousands of people, fast game, has only one break (usually) and the result is out in less than two hours. A far cry from Test Cricket that runs for five days. (Its another matter that I am a great cricket fan.)
In the face of all these changes, what is the future of sports like shooting and archery?
Whenver I was watching the CWG telecast, I admit that I switched channels if they were showing shooting, archery or lawn balls. As for shooting, at least skeet or clay pigeon is a bit exciting to watch. But all the other variants (10 mt, 25 mt, rifle, pistol, standing, prone, single, pair, whatever) have little to offer to the viewer.
Picture Courtesy - Google

I also don't believe that spectator involvement is the only thing that makes the sport popular. If that were the case,then wrestling and gymnastics should have been hugely popular in India by now. Nor is the presence of world champions (or  equivalent, whatever that is) enough to guarantee popularity. Once again, if that were true, billiards and snooker should have become hot pursuits by now. (I recently spent weeks looking for a snooker table in Pune - finally found one) But they have not.
I would hasten to repeat what I have said in the beginning - that I do not wish to take away the credit of any athlete who strived hard to be in the CWG. But as for the future of some sports in our country, I wonder if.....

5 comments:

Vinay said...

Most important of all, it requires a culture that promotes and gives due emphasis for sporting activities, right from school level.

How many parents prevent their wards from taking part in sporting activities because it might affect their studies?

A person with good marks/grades but no sporting habit is considered better than one with average grades, but great sport skills.

So, changing attitudes is the key to promote sports.

SA said...

You are to the point.
Yes medals do not create cultures. It requires a holistic approach towards sports.P T Usha just missed her Bronz, but it did not create any thing else than sympathy for her & that too just for a while. We don't burn from with in, that we just missed a medal.
The media also plays a very important role in the awareness. I saw the games in bits & pieces. I was just watching a few interviews of the athletes who won medals.... One of the question that irritates me is "how did you feel after wining the medal?" Hahahaha what a question. No one talked about how do they prepare themselves, what sacrifices they have to make & the infrastructure available to them for competing against best in the world.
The girl who lost the 800 mt race was so much being appreciated for leading the race for 600 mt... to me that was the worst planned & run race. But I don't know if those people in the media understand the sport at all.
Look at the pre-CWG media coverage. They had all the time to discuss CWG Scam (I am not saying that was wrong) but no one ever turned to athletes even once to go & check their preparations & that is the reason many of us were surprised with a few medals that came in.
Yes, in a country like ours, academics play a important role & specially for the lower middle class & below. There are a few middle class & Higher middle class families who are encouraging their children to take up sports actively. Till the time the one is not able to earn his/her living through sports, we cant only expect miracles & exceptions.
Look at cricket, they have some substantial amount coming in to them even if they are playing for their state.
So its not only government, the sports bodies will also have to take this initiative. they will have to realise that they can make a difference.

Pushkaraj said...

@ Vinay - Thanks for the comment. Yes. Parents pay a huge role, no doubt about that. Consider this case - a girl who secured 83% in XIIth board exams and then chose to pursue classical dance in a reputed institute. Even the interview panel from the inst were surprised, to the extent that they actually asked her, "you have got such good marks, you can actually get admission anywhere. Are you sure you want to do this?"

@ SA - Thanks. Your thoughtful comment covers the point even better than my original post. Media coverage is an entirely different point and I have got tired talking about them. "How did you feel" is an inane question that they can ask anyone. From a medal winner to a earthquake survivor. If media people don't understand sports, that's actually OK. They are not supposed to. But they can at least invite people who understand it on a panel discussion. Even that is done rarely. That happens because people like Barkha Dutt consider themselves experts on everything under the sun.

India Sports said...

Yes medals do not create cultures. It requires a holistic approach towards sports.P T Usha just missed her Bronz, but it did not create any thing else than sympathy for her & that too just for a while. We don't burn from with in, that we just missed a medal.

sports good said...

Yes, in a country like ours, academics play a important role & specially for the lower middle class & below. There are a few middle class & Higher middle class families who are encouraging their children to take up sports actively.