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    Why Are We So Pathetic As A Sporting Nation?

    When I was a kid, things in terms of sports or viewership were completely in contrast to what they are now. To start with, there were no 24 hours channels, let alone 24 hours sports or cricket channels. No Star Cricket to air even the match between Namibia and Afghanistan. Certainly no IPL or Lalit Modi. There were no Commonwealth games or Laskar-E-Kalmadi and Harqat-UL-Darbari either.

    All that we had that time, was our very own Doordarshan, where guys were too reluctant to air anything beyond the rainbow striped signal feed image with that irritating sound most of the time. Team India (they were not men in blue then) wasn't playing 365 days cricket. A series with Australia was awaited like anything. Not for the game but more for the good quality Channel 9 telecast. In the limited scope that was on offer for live telecast matches (all sports), a thing like Olympics or Asian games were an exception. That is perhaps the only time every four years where Doordarshan used to have 15 days of daily live telecast. So nothing was missed, not even games like Fencing and Archery.

    Everything has changed since then except one - We used to come empty handed (in terms of medals) then and we are continuing to do so at the latest edition of the Olympic Games at Beijing. I don't consider a billion plus population winning a couple of Bronze medals is anything better than being empty handed. The next edition in London doesn't seem bright either. Until 1980, our Hockey team was a regular feature at the podium at least. Thanks to huge politics in our national game, now-a-days we don't even go beyond the 10th spot (closely following or followed by Pakistan) among the 15 participating teams. As a kid, to satisfy my ego I used to argue with my father - Papa, it should be 11 gold medals in our tally instead of one , as each player of our Hockey team won one. Now kids do not even have that scope left to argue with their fathers on the number of medals the medals tally should show.

    I always thought - why are we so bad as a sporting nation? Even after being so vast and populous, what is that we are missing? Is it the lack of talent? Or support? Or encouragement? Or a mixture of all three factors? As I grow up I strike out the Talent factor. When we can produce one Tendulkar after a certain Gavaskar or Gundappa Viswanath, and continue to do so, then there is no shortage of talent in our country for sure. If we can do it in Cricket, we can very well replicate it in other sports. Then where we are lacking? Definitely on the support and encouragement part. The rustic way we manage our sports bodies can surely be added as another of the reasons. Starting from our Sports minister to the individual sports association heads - all are clueless on what they are doing and what they are supposed to do. One doesn't need a better example than what M.S.Gill did yesterday.

    I still don't understand why the sportspersons have to visit the Minister's house, rather the Minister should visit the champ's house. Anyway, that's a separate discussion in itself. So coming back to our topic. Either Mr. Gill is an idiot or belongs in Ghajini. It was chaos and embarrassment both for Sushil Kumar and his coach Satpal. Mr. Gill tried to take the limelight all the while suggesting mutely- it is because of him only that Sushil Kumar could manage to win the gold at the world championship. His coach Satpal is just a namesake and can very well go for a walk. It is when Sushil himself corrected Mr.Gill of his mistakes, the coach was called-in for the photo shoot. Keeping aside Sushil, there are two things which the coach himself has accomplished and is a wrestling legend.

    1. Asian gold medalist
    2. Dronacharya award winner

    Now this leads to a fundamental concern. Wasn't our sports minister aware of a person who himself has won a gold medal in Asian games (more so when there aren't many)? Was our sports minister taking a nap when our President Pratibha Patil was awarding the same person with the Dronacharya award? In both the scenarios he doesn't deserve to be our sports minister. In fact this is for the second time he has repeated the same mistake. It happened before when Saina Nehwal went to meet him along with her coach Pullela Gopichand after the 2008 Olympics. With his traditional rabbit smile Mr. Gill gave a cold stare at Gopichand and went on to ask - May I know, who are you?

    Now someone please enlighten me on who should educate our sports minister that the person questioned is only the second one from India to win the All-England championship (Wimbledon of Badminton).

    Look at what we have done with the Commonwealth Games. In the name of improving the sporting culture in our country, we ended up improving our bank balance. In the name of infrastructure we ended up having a sorry looking set of stadia. All, including our prime minister fear that the stadia roof might fall on their heads during the opening ceremony itself. Now if a person like Suresh Kalmadi can infuse so much damage to the CWG in four years time, it is very well understood how much idiocy he must have spread in his 30 years tenure as IOA president. I am sure what would happen (within 4 years) if China gets one Kalmadi as their Olympic committee head. Either China would compete with India in terms of medals or the leader would be promptly executed with a single bullet from close range.

    So in nutshell, this is how we manage, encourage and treat our sportspersons. Almost all the sports bodies are headed by wily fox politicians for the last 20 years. Given an opportunity, on individual terms, each of them are capable of becoming one Kalmadi. As long as guys like Kalmadi and crooks of his stature continue to run our sports bodies we have to be satisfied with a couple of bronze medals or most of the time nothing. As it is least expected that our sports fraternity would be cleaned of these crooks anytime soon, we have to live with this conclusion - we were pathetic as a sporting nation when we were kids and would remain so even when our great-grandchildren would be doing their graduation.

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