Why Sports education is important in India?

Olympic fever is on!

And I am happy that more and more people are following it closely this time.

In fact, on Saturday when India won against Sri Lanka in the cricket match nobody really went gaga over it. 

Cricket was completely overshadowed by Saina’s bronze medal!

I was happy to see that for once cricket took a backseat and badminton was given due importance.

But this post is not about cricket or any other sport.

It is about why a country that has a large pool of talent is lagging behind in terms of medal tally?

China which is more populated than our nation has proved the worth of its citizens by getting highest number of medals. Other countries that are nowhere close to our demography is winning more medals than us. But here in a country of billion people, we have just 3 medals as of now! Probably more medals might come, but that again will be quite less.

So this brings me to my question - what could be the reason for this population: medal tally disproportion?
Is it lack of resources, lack of awareness, lack of motivation for non-cricket players, what is it?

Reasons could be many and only a sports expert like my friend Moulin can comment on it.

But in my view one of the major reasons why we have fewer medals must be due to lack of sports education.

Let’s look at each aspect one by one:

Lazy school days:  Just go back to your school days. Remember we used to have just two sessions of Physical Training every week?

Yes, out of the entire 36 hours in a week, just 2 hours were dedicated to Physical Training.

And in that session, we would just do some random exercises, run around the ground 2-3 times, and that’s it. There was no option such as choosing your favourite sport, practicing it and excelling in it (at least school didn’t have such facilities). Of course, there were sports club, but they were meant for Richie rich people. Middle class people like me had to play in the colony. Now the situation is even worse. I hardly see children running around and playing. Angry bird type of games has replaced kho-kho and kabbadi.

Unconventional career = short career span: As a kid, you dare not say you want to be a sportsman or a sports woman. Because chances are you will be looked down upon as a ‘dumb’ kid. I remember, in school, even if you won a medal, you were considered a dumb kid just because you did not get a rank between the first 10.

In our nation, a child is expected to study, study and just study. You either have to be an engineer, an MBA, a CA or a doctor. Sport is only to get a sports quota just in case you fall short of percentage required for admission in a coveted college. Here sport is given a step motherly treatment and is looked down upon as a ‘career for not so intelligent people’.  I have decided, when I have kids, I will enrol them for professional training in whichever sport they like. It is one of the most essential things for holistic development of an individual. You will remain not just healthy, but it will also help you learn about sportsmanship and team spirit.

Another myth is if you are a sportsman, your career is short. This in my view is just a myth. In India, sportsmen do have value. Ok you might not feature in ads like our cricketers, but after retirement, you can run an academy like Gopichand or become an MP just like our cricketers ;-). Why you even get a job in ONGC, railways, police force etc – places where you and I can only dream of working.
So basically, you won’t become a Paan Singh Tomar if you play and retire smartly.

High priced fees: Let’s be honest. Asking a person to shell out 50,000 Rs to one lakh for professional training might not seem too much now-a-days. But in reality it is pretty high. No matter how famous the institution is, the fees should be reasonable. I personally know of a lady whose daughter was a talented tennis player. But the girl could not train beyond a level because she could not afford the fees. At the cost of sounding pompous I can say, India has indeed lost a talented player. So, I hope the institutions reconsider their fee structure.

But having said that, I am really happy that a lot of players are doing well. Ok some players like our hockey players are losing out without fighting. But some like P Kashyap, Saina Nehwal, Mary Kom have performed very well. And I believe the credit must also go to the Olympic Gold Quest an initiative started by stalwarts like Prakash Padukone and Geet Sethi who are doing their best to support these talented sports people.
But still considering that the Population: Medal Tally ratio is quite low; it is high time that sports education is seriously considered in schools and colleges.

Let’s encourage the next generation to take up sports and make us proud!

I am sure they will, if it means going out and playing instead of just studying ;-)