Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sportsman versus the administration

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Barely had Indian fans digested the fiasco around the Indian hockey that a new controversy has broken. Olympic Gold medallist and one of India’s biggest medal hopes at the Delhi Commonwealth Games 2010, Abhinav Bindra has threatened to quit saying he was tired fighting with the system. This after the ace shooter had been in a tussle with the NRAI (National Riffle Association of India) over attending selection trial for the mega sporting event. Now with both the parties sticking to their own ego Indian sports is emerging to be the biggest looser and Indian fans are getting used to the ugly face of sports than the glittering medals.

The NRAI seems right on its part asking Bindra to attend trials for his selection. There is a fair argument as why should an exception be made in the case of any player. Bindra may have touched the pinnacle with his Olympic gold but most of the players in the Indian shooting team are medallist in other international events too. Making an exception for Bindra due to his star status post Beijing Olympics might set a wrong precedent in the sports. Even cricketer stars like Sachin Tendulkar has to participate in the domestic tournaments while making comeback into the Indian team post injuries. So why is Bindra making such a fuss about the entire issue many would argue.

The other side of the story is that NRAI has had very little role to play in Bindra’s success. It is well known that Bindra has practiced on his own over the years in his personal shooting range as India doesn’t yet have standard facilities to train its shooters. So if Bindra wants to prepare for the event on his own, overseas what is the problem with the NRAI? Isn’t winning a international medal more important than following the bureaucratic procedures? Can the NRAI guarantee Bindra the same standards of coaching which the ace shooter gets access to overseas.

Karnam Malleshwari, Rajvardhan Singh Rathore, Vijender Singh, Sushil Kumar and Abhinav Bindra have won medals at the Olympics more due to the individual talent and hard work. Their sorts associations have hardly played a role in their success. In all the above case the facilities provided to the athletes in India is of school or university level in many developed countries. The sports administration being run by politicians and bureaucrats rather than former sportsman themselves doesn’t help the cause either. Most of these bureaucrats and politicians have hardly anything to boast off in their own professional lives and they inspiring sportsman cannot be even thought of.

The easiest way in India for sports bodies to justify their failure has been to blame it on cricket. BCCI is perhaps the only sports body in India that doesn’t depend on the government for its functioning. Isn’t it a story of inspiration for other Indian sports bodies to follow? Team India might have recently become No.1 team recently but as far as branding and marketing the sport is concerned BCCI has been No.1 for almost a decade and flexed its muscle world over. Although, BCCI which isn’t aloof to political pressure but it can become a case study for other Indian sports bodies. It’s high time sports bodies in India start learning the tricks of the trade from cricket rather than bashing it to conceal their own flaws.

On the Bindra front the outcome of this tussle is quite well known. The association and the player will reach a compromise after the intervention of the Sports Ministry as it will not want to loose a medal hope. But the face of Indian sports gets tainted with every such incident. Sports is studied as a science in the west where as in India we are still having such ugly tussles over petty issues. From Adolf Hitler to Americans to the Chinese, sports has been seen as the best statement to superiority in peaceful manner. We in India should wake up to this fact, the sooner the better it will be for us.


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