We are all responsible for India’s Olympics woes

I am pretty late on this topic and it has been discussed quite a bit already (see this from Cowen). It is the hot topic- why do we do so poorly in Olympics despite having such a vast pool of resources? The usual blame comes on poor facilities, lack of funding, interventions etc.  I don’t really see it in this way. I agree these are factors but not the only ones. Infact we as a nation are responsible for this state of sports in the country.

Actually, this is a quadrennial question visited every 4 years at time of Olympics and forgotten after the event. We as a nation are obsessed only with one sport- Cricket and that is where it ends. The same media which blames poor facilities gives every other sport a very poor coverage. How many would know the captain of Indian Hockey Team (just a reminder Hockey is our national sport)? How many know India won the Asian Football Confederation cup? Media is surely to be blamed as one could see the interest in boxing, shooting and wrestling just rise to esoteric levels after the recent Indian performances. But I am sure it will all move to cricket after Olympics (despite such poor recent performances).

If state does not help, what prevents the private sector from supporting the players? As this Mint article shows Mittal Foundation and  joint effort by former All-England badminton champion Prakash Padukone and billiards great Geet Sethi, helpoed things. Infact, both Abhinav Bindra and Akhil Kumar (the boxer who lost in Quarter Finals) were beneficiaries as Mittal trust provides finances when both were fighting health problems. Indian industry has made rapid strides with record profits, acquisitions etc..surely they can help and finance a sport/sportsmen. But instead record money continues to flow in cricket. Let it flow in other sports as well. Before Indian Premier League, we had a Indian hockey league where similar club concept was made to make hockey popular. However, it didn’t receive the fanfare it deserved. It is irritating to see the corporate world line outside sportsmen houses after the medal wins. Why not before as well?

The players also need to understand they need to pull performances and then only private money, media, fans etc follow. However, what you get to see is disappointing performances and that too from favorites. No performance is repeated. Rajyavardhan Rathore got us silver in Athens which made shooting popular and we had maximum medal hopes in Beijing-2008. However, barring Bindra hardly anyone could even qualify for the final events. Likewise, Karnam Malleswari raised hopes in weightlifting when she won a bronze in Sydney 2000. But again because of poor performances later on, we hardly see anything happening. And surely these athletes would be looking at performances from countries where facilities are hardly going to be any better (Ethiopia etc). The Indian athletes should realise they are the chosen one to represent the country and should give it their best shot. One inspired performance is all it takes.

This is where China is really good. Looking at these Olympics, all their favorites have won and have infact broken records. They not only maintained their previous wins but have ensured they enter new fields like swimming etc. The athletes are not just physically superior but mentally as well. Imagine the pressure on them performing in front of their home crowd which has set such high standards. But still they don’t buckle and instead deliver. Looking at the recent India medals all have come (barring Vijendra at Boxing) when least attention was on them. Whenever the nation looked up to a medal performance, it was thorough disappointment.

How about the general public? Apart from watching the other sports, we need to push children in sports as well. You come across so many people who give up sports careers as there isn;t any hope if you are a sportsman.

The state of Indian sports is a chicken and egg situation. The players blame facilities/lack of funds for poor performance, private sector blames poor performance for lack of interest, public blames poor performance/media coverage etc and the circle simply goes on and on. It is time when we all act in it together. If I am asked,  private sector support surely should help make things better.

I hope Beijing 2008 provides the turning point.

6 Responses to “We are all responsible for India’s Olympics woes”

  1. Abhishek Jain Says:

    Hi Amol…

    Thanks for your excellent blog… but I am surprised to see this post simply going against the whole blog concept. Why would somebody be it a corporate house or media invest in any sports when it does not make economic sense ? If its CSR then the results expected should also be CSR like – a photo session, press release and then it all goes down the drain…

    Saying this… 2008 Olympics is indeed looking like a turning point… thanks to Bindra… the sports can be seen not as a govt obligation but also an entrepreneurial opportunity… individual invest.. individual trains.. individual performs.. and finally the individual also reaps the benefits… the socialist era of govt investing and wards of babus benefiting will soon be a thing of past… the new breed of sportsmen.. including in cricket… are no namers and there only by merit.

    After all the laws of economics do govern human behavior also… if 3 winners are valued such highly (millions in rewards) then who’s stopping 300 preparing for 2020 !

  2. Rajni Says:

    Please highlight this in your blog. RBI makes profit irrespective of its not-so-for-profit role.

    RBI transfers surplus profit to Government of India

    The Reserve Bank of India’s Central Board, in its meeting held today, approved the transfer of surplus profit to the Government of India amounting to Rs. 15,011 crore for the year ended June 30, 2008. Last year, the Reserve Bank had transferred Rs. 45,719 crore as surplus to the Government of India which included Rs. 34,308.60 crore on account of profit on sale of SBI shares held by the Reserve Bank. Excluding this amount, the transfer of surplus for the year ended June 30, 2007 was Rs. 11,411.00 crore.

    G. Raghuraj
    Deputy General Manager

    Press Release : 2008-2009/200

  3. Amol Agrawal Says:

    Thanks Abhishek for comments on the blog….

    Why would somebody be it a corporate house or media invest in any sports when it does not make economic sense? Well….on that grounds anything like investment should not exist. Lots of investment is done to realise the rewards later. Same is the case here. Corporates take far bigger risks where the losses could be huge…..here it is just an investment with very limited downfall. It brings so much fame to the organisation and leads to higher brand valuation. Things make economic sense only when you make it work.

  4. moneymanagement Says:

    Hi I have written a researched post on the http://moneymanagement.wordpress.com/2008/08/04/the-economics-of-olympics/ Pls do read it.

  5. tulja vikas Says:

    fantastic article
    maast bola

  6. RiYo Says:

    Really appreciate your comments !!
    Would also like you to read my article as well

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