India has 1,320,000,000 people, and is the second most populous country in the world following China. But India's score low in sports apart from cricket and commonwealth games. Why? Counting by population, India ranks the last in the Olympic medal tally, India got only six medals in the 2012 Olympics and two medals in 2016 Rio Olympics while none were gold. But there are some exceptions; India has won 8 Olympic gold medals in hockey. In Tennis, Sania Mirza was ranked world no 9 in doubles ranking, Leander Paes was ranked world no 6 in doubles ranking, Rohan Boppana was ranked world no 3 in doubles ranking. In Chess, Grand Master Viswanathan Anand has won world champion twice. In Kabaddi, India was world champions and Vijender Singh, Mary Kom (both Olympic medalists). Recently, In Badminton, PV Sindhu (Silver Medal in Olympics, Parupalli Kashyap, Jwala Gutta, Ashwini Ponnappa won medals in Commonwealth games), Saina Nehwal (Bronze medal in the Olympics). In shooting, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Abhinav Bindra, Gagan Narang, Vijay Kumar have won Olympic medals. But the overall performance in sports is poor.
Many refuse to believe that sports define the ethical thread that leads to an understanding of inner strength. So, over the years, sports have never been given a chance to serve to its true potential in the social domain. There are talented athletes who have won several games in their schools and colleges days. But they give up due to pressure from family and friends, Why? Because there is a general perception is that sportsman doesn’t have a successful life. The life of a sportsman is considered more of a hard struggle to make both the ends meet. The profession guarantees financial security only for those who are famous; the ones who are still struggling to establish their identity are hardly given any financial help or even remuneration.
The cost of equipment and other facilities are very high in India. For example: most of the protein supplements are imported from Western Countries like Britain, France. A small packet of high quality protein supplement costs around Rs 3,000- 5000 in India. Another example, a top quality athletic spike shoes cost around Rs 7,000. Most of the players cannot buy such shoes for practice. Many MNC and private companies show disinterest in sponsoring a game which has a very significant audience. Due to lack of private funding Indian players are greatly dependent on the government. This makes India unrepresented in most of the competitions. Indian players are unable to afford the huge travel expenses and registration costs. For example, a flight travel from Chennai to Paris cost Rs 60,000. Boarding and domestic travels also adds a huge burden to the athletes. Hence, sending an athlete comes under the direct of the discretion of the government. Besides, government support for the game. For example, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has slammed the Maharashtra government for its "inability" to create adequate infrastructure for sports despite incurring a huge expenditure of Rs 576 crore, which it said adversely affected the performance of sports persons. As per the CAG report on the general and social sector tabled in the state legislature today, a performance audit of the management of sports infrastructure during 2012-17 revealed that even though the Sports Policy was formulated in 2012 it was yet to be translated into action. Stating that no long-term plan was prepared for implementation of the policy, the report underlined delays in execution of schemes due to non-acquisition of land, change in design and scope of work, and short or late release of funds.
India lacks good coaches in almost all track and field events. So in order to compete with international games, we need coaches of foreign standard. When players aren’t unable to get foreign exposure, how come Indian coaches are exposed to international coaching standards? So, Indian players have to rely on foreign coaches for assistance and training in the field. But, the fees and expenses to hire a foreign coach are very high which cannot be easily met by an individual. With few coaches with international standard, most of the times the players are forced to cooperate and compromise.
In India, almost all the sports federations and associations are headed by politicians or businessmen. This was evident in Indian cricket, where a handful of powerful individuals controlled the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for several decades. Many of such people lack technicalities of the sports. Besides, these people push way for the money minded activities and corruption.
Cricket is considered as the national sport of India. Since the people love the game so much that it has been religion-like. In India, those who don’t like cricket could be regarded as odd ones. Because of this, many young people don’t have the encouragement from society to get training in other sports events. Despite the games like hockey and tennis have gained popularity in the past but sports like judo, karate, volleyball, football, basketball and squash are generally ignored by the masses.
We must realize that a sports person has to sacrifice a lot for his/her game. His hard work and dedication need to be respected and not ignored by us. So, no amount of change will be successful, until we bring change in our attitude. The fundamental change needed is bringing financial support for the sports person. Most of the games require sponsorship and private funding for meeting foreign travelling expenses, buying sports equipment. Government on its part must offer deserving players with more jobs and remuneration. The role of sports association is very important for the growth of sports and sports person.
Transparency must be brought in the selection procedure of office bears of the association. Finally, parents and the educational institutions must also encourage the students to excel in sports, not just in academics. Since there are very few universities which provide for sports quota in higher education, academic must be clubbed with sports related activities. New categories of reservations can be created in universities. When such a drastic change is brought at every level, one can find Indian sports person performing well in the international arena and bringing laurels to the country.