The London Olympics, much like the ones in the past, has caught on with much fervour in India and has left the general public in awe of its neighbouring nation. Sadly, it has also left a large portion of the general public in a state of dismay over the lack of medals in India’s tally. The real issue here is not that of India’s inability to rake in the medals, but the fact that spectators and viewers tune in just once in four years and expect the Indian contingent to produce a bunch of rather unrealistic results. What happens in the period before and after the Olympics, simply disappears into oblivion.
For starters, there’s always a comparison drawn between the Chinese way of administrating sports and the Indian method. A lot of muck is generally hurled at the current Indian system, but this is done only when India’s sporting contingent either don’t qualify for the Olympics or don’t manage to bag medals. Sure enough the current systems in place aren’t the best and it’s about time that they improve, but for that to happen there needs to be constant interest in those sports. If people don’t bother about the scenario of sports in India for more than a span of just 17 days, then the men running the sport are never
going to be under any sort of pressure to change the way things function. Interest levels for most sports other than cricket, in India, is almost obsolete, and waning interest will always generate woeful results.
In India, there’s this bizarre concept of “cricket is hogging all the limelight so it must be ignored for the other sports to be able to thrive.” Hang on, the United States of America does not ignore the NBA, NFL and its baseball league in order to win all those medals at the Olympics. Football is the biggest sport in the United Kingdom, but they do not shun it away to win a gold medal in rowing. Countries do not neglect one sport in order to succeed in another, they simply collectively thrive on the success of each sport. There’s no reason to banish cricket, but what’s needed is some serious equality in interest levels shown not just by the general public and the media but also the sporting federations. Perhaps it is time that other sporting bodies are subject to the same amount of pressure that the BCCI undergoes from the general public.
For now, India’s public needs to be patient and realistic. There needs to be a clear understanding of what India can achieve at its current position and there has to be some sense of appreciation for those achievements. As an example it is important to laud Gagan Narang for that bronze medal, rather than whine about him missing out on the gold. The answer to Narang bagging bronze and Abhinav Bindra not making it past the qualifications, is encapsulated in the four years prior to the event. That time span unfortunately probably went completely unnoticed.
India still has a decent amount of fire power at the Olympics and it may well bring in some more medals through badminton, tennis and boxing. What’s important though, is that people don’t forget that these sports still exist after the closing ceremony.