TLI Opinion: Athletes Have Not Failed Our Country, System Has Failed Them

Let us face it, India with such a huge population has a miserably low medal tally at global sports arena at major sporting events with some minor exceptions. This is a harsh truth we as a nation have to face, however, we have to put the dismal scenario which exists in the sports arena and the criticisms which comes along with it in perspective because sometimes the opinions and critics against the performers have gone overboard.

Government’s investment in nurturing grassroots talents by any barometer is dismally low, the low priorities of government for the sports sector, both infrastructure and talent development stems from two things:

1. Lack of long term vision and purpose from policy makers to build talent and infrastructure that will gather momentum for the sport.

2. India’s priorities as a nation, with huge expenditures met in the social sector i.e., health and education, not mention the various agricultural schemes, subsidy schemes and much more. India as it stands is struggling to find the band width to accommodate and prioritize sports. As it stands, sports is looked at as an expenditure than an investment. We will dwell a little more on point 2.

It has been a week of Olympics, India remains hopeful to improve on its medal tally, opinions from the netizens to pundits have been making its rounds on the prospects of success and reasons of failures. Markandey Katju made a valid point on the reasons, he has rightly cited how the rich countries can only afford sports which in itself is an expensive affair with the exceptions of African countries who notably excel in track and field events among few other sports. With poverty still remaining a single biggest challenge which has held back the prospects of unleashing the potential of sports investment in India. So where do we go from here now?

1. Continue our meagerly investment in sports given the other major social expenditures that occupies our budget? (Pressure will be on us as a nation, as China with a similar population has found enough resources to invest in sports infra and it has visibly made huge strides when it comes to performance in major global sports event)

2. Renew our will and take the leap to increase our investment in sports infra and prepare a road map to create a talent pool who will earn laurels for the country?

The above argument has not even included the long term assurance to sports stars who bet their lives on the game hoping they will make a living or fortune out of it. There are way too many examples where sportsmen and women doing meagerly jobs have made the country proud. We are at the cross roads, the time to decide is now.

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