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Sporting Excellence: A Desire, A Dream, A Vision
by Ramendra Kumar

Three Indian sportsmen have created Olympic history and have set off a heated debate on the state of sports in the nation. Indians have finally tasted blood after eighty almost fruitless years of participation and are baying for more. Every one has an opinion on what needs to be done and how it is to be done. Improve the infrastructure, employ foreign coaches, go for state of the art equipment, give the best training et al. And since all this costs money pump in the moolah and the results will definitely come. I think this kind of thinking is simplistic and borders on the juvenile.

We should remember here we are talking about sports and success. In sports success doesn’t come from investment in terms of cash, it comes from investment of planning, strategizing and above all creating a sporting legacy that is enduring and eternal.

I am not saying we shouldn’t improve facilities, training and infrastructure. We should. I am only questioning the means. I am not against investment, I am only against commercialization.

Commerce and sports really don’t go together in the long run. Take the case of IPL. Here the players were playing for cash not for pride. It was clearly the case of apna sapna money, money. As a result many of the players got so exhausted earning money that they didn’t have the energy to play for the nation. Our national icon Dhoni had to drop out of the test series against Sri Lanka for a much-needed respite as a result India got thrashed in the test series. If you think he could not have made a difference reflect – in the one-day series he has been almost single handedly winning the match for India.

In other countries too commerce has killed the spirit of sports. In soccer and tennis for instance many top players are too busy earning money playing in clubs and as a result they miss out on Olympics. Is this what sportsman spirit is all about?

Yes, sports in India needs investment on a large scale. But this has to be done by the government with only goal – to create sportspersons of international quality. Private sector participation can be invited in a small measure only to supplement not substitute the efforts of the Government.

Finally the motivation for a sportsperson should always be cash not commerce. The undivided Soviet Union had proved it earlier and China has proved it again. In these countries there is no private sponsorship yet they produce results that are breathtaking. The main reason is that the only currency they trade in is pride.

To substantiate my argument I would like to end with this immortal quote from one of the greatest sportspersons of planet earth – Muhammad Ali:

Champions aren't made in the gyms.
Champions are made from something they have deep inside them
- a desire, a dream, a vision. 

Image under license with Gettyimages.com

11-Jan-2009
 
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