July 19, 2007

Well Played!

Is this the way you function!?

This is what the Mani Shankar Aiyar, the Minister for Sports, enquired of his Joint secretary. Why? The Minister learnt that an archer, who was promised some money as a prize, was being pushed around for almost 2 years and it was a newspaper article that made him aware of this stupidity. Well Mr. Aiyar has got a part of it right- this is exactly how the ministry functions. And who says that India is bad at sports...have you ever seen the various ministers who run these sports body function. They are bloody good at their game!

India likes to compare itself with China; China won 63 medals in the last Olympics, we got 1. Even at the Asiad level China beats us 6:1 when it comes to making it to the podium. The onus of this mess lies in one simple fact- Indian sports is in the hands of politicians. Where else in the world do old, fat politicians run sports; Sharad Pawar is the head of BCCI, Lalu Prasad, Farooq Abdullah and Arun jaitley run Bihar, J&K and Delhi cricket associations, Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi is the head of Football, VK Malhotra is the archery boss, Suresh Kalmadi is the head of Indian Olympic Committee. These guys don't know their way out of a paper bag when it comes to sports. Why do you think they got a compromise character in a 72-year-old Chandu Borde when what they needed was the polar opposite?

The thing with politicians is that perhaps they don't realize professional coaches have no nationality. They are paid to do their job and that is that. England's football team has a Swedish coach and a South African for cricket. The Chinese have a Japanese swimming coach. India pays a paltry $2000 a month for a coach while China dishes out almost $300,000 a year for experts.

It's not that the government doesn't need to get involved but it cannot rule the life of a sports person. Make stadia, pump in money at grass root level, make sports in school better and get professionals to do the other jobs. But this attitude of noting doing anything and not allowing any one else to do anything isn’t going to change the situation. A recent newspaper article had a great point; if the government can disinvest hotels and other businesses it can also let go of it control over sporting bodies for aren't sports one of the biggest industries today?

Till that happens enjoy the fact that sports persons are thinking like politicians while politicians are becoming good at sports! Otherwise why'd a Tendulkar hide behind a statement like, "I've played for my country with passion for the 17 years..." when asked about his bad form in the last three years!

All the games people play now
Every night and every day now
Never meaning what they say
Never say what they mean
-Inner Circle

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