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 ;-)


dr.antony said...

That was at the right time. I was thinking about the same while I was watching the Olympics. It is a shame on us,with this much of population,that we cannot produce at least some good competition.Countries which are poor,like Jamaica and many other African countries bag medals, and even Arab countries these days.

Absolutely right. I remember my PT class when we had a very obese and lazy teacher who would leave us to roam around. Our children are just getting pushed around to study and more study.
Cricket is another menace.This has suffocated all other games in the country by a planned effort.If you remove children from the clutches,may be,some of them would turn to other games.
All said and done,it also matters how much money the government spends on sports.Whatever little we have, is looted by the politicians.May be, if they include corruption and swindling,our politicians could bag a medal for that !
I also feel there is an element of genetic difference when it comes to athletics.Even the best trained of the whites find it difficult to compete with African athletes.

Anita Jeyan Sandeep said...

Very relevant post, G3. The thing is kids are more into Playstations and mobile games. They prefer to stay home, and watch cartoons or play indoor game, eating chips at the same time. This also accounts for childhood obesity, which is a condition unheard of in our times. Children absolutely do not bother to get out in the sun, and play in the mud. I am seeing this trend from where I am staying and it is very very pitiful. And yes, that time when Saina stole the thunder of our national religion cricket- was a moment of pride for her and all women! I hope people take sports seriously - I dont blame parents if they dont let their kids take it up as a full time activity - kids should study and play as well.

BK Chowla, said...

We have never taken sports seriously ever.
There hardly any school which devours sports on it's syllabus.
Fault lies,both at patents level as well as with the govt...which is Ministry of sports.
It will be interesting to check as to what is the budget,what is the disbursement and what is actually spent.
Do we know,the Babus who accompany the contingent get an allowance much greater that the sportsmen?

Bikramjit said...

oh yes i was a boarder so the school finished at 3:30pm and then from 4 to 5:30 we had sports.

Although i congratulate the badminton player for the bronze but logically the medal came as a luck as the chinece player got injured , she had already won the first set and was leading in the second too :)

the problem is our country does not support the sportsmen, some get too much and some nothing, CRICKET needs to be banned to make other sports come up.

I think our sportsmen get to the medal with their own hard work, if the nation helped a bit and provided proper facilities then situation will be different.

but hats off to the boxing girl WELL DONE OtHER, I will be in the stadium watching her in her next match and cheering her with all my heart.. and the shooter tooo

sports education is a must but we need facilities and no interference of politics and all, We can do great ..

lets hope things change :)


Abhinav said...

I agree with all you have said in your post. Probably Australia used to have a policy of making kids in school choose a sport compulsorily in school though they stopped doing that and hence their performance has decreased.

And I am laughing at the CRICKET loving comments above. Cricket deserves what it has achieved, other sports didn't. Do well in your sport first and then blame Cricket.

Jack said...


A very factual post. There is no dearth of talent but lack of motivation and proper guidance. We definitely need dedicated body to look for talented youngsters and then take steps to shape them up to international standards. We can not just say it is Government which should take on this but it could be by active participation of big business houses. Such encouragement includes offer of steady job. Sports should be given adequate importance from school level itself.

Take care

gayathri vishwanathan said...

Dr. Anthony, I think the government will now take note of the fact that sports should be encouraged! At least the current sports minister Ajay Maken is good. Regarding the genetic make up, yes i agree on that point.

Anita, i agree it should not be a full time thing... but i hope parents encourage kids to take up some sports... ek hour hee sahi, the bhaagam bhaagi will build their stamina. After their graduation, if they want they can take it up as their career.

gayathri vishwanathan said...

Chowla sir, yes we never took sports seriously and neither our govt. But now that we shined in Badminton, boxing and wrestling, I am sure a lot of people will venture into sports. A lot of pvt entities like Mittal Charitable Trust and Olympic Gold Quest contributed to the growth of these sportsmen and women. Hope govt will follow suit.

Bikram... 'With Ajay Maken as sports minister I believe other sports will get more importance and will even outshine cricket, which is played by just handful of teams.

gayathri vishwanathan said...

Abhinav... yes i agree cricket should not be blamed till one excels in their respective sports. But it is high time, other sports are given equal importance!

Jack, yes agreed sports culture should be inculcated right from school days and with us winning 6 medals, I am hoping govt will take initiative to make sports like archery, badminton, tennis etc.. It highly deserves attention! We are talented, with some help and support, we will do well!

Karan Agrawal said...

Rarely parents force kids to pursue Sports as a profession. We do not have right infrastructure and backing. If a person makes it big, he make it big but what if it is otherwise? There is no financial support that could ensure regular income from private/ government agencies. And when players are off their highs, they are left to discover things for themselves. A proper end to end infrastructure with good financial backing will definitely motivate kids to pursue sports as a profession!

Shruti said...

So very well written, Gayathri. The concerns you raised are absolutely true.

khel Sahitya Kendra said...

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gayathri vishwanathan said...

Thank You Khel Sahitya Kendra for the appreciation :)