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Professional League Tournaments for budding players, boon or curse.

"I will run for my country. I will run for its pride" and with this Milkha Singh, the Indian runner won his gold medal in common wealth games. The zeal with which he made his run even fetched him the title 'the flying Sikh' from the then Pakistani general Ayub Khan. The above incident clearly states one thing,- Sports is not simply played, but played with a spirit. This is one field where people stand united. Masses find no caste, creed, religion. A sport is thus not bounded with anything known to break the indomitable human spirit.

When humans learnt the art of sports, so did the urge to compete. The word 'compete' chills down every spine who has ever competed, even may be just one single time. The very feeling of it brings a sense to win. Slowly it turns into dominance. Some people with years of practice, try perfecting each move that they think would make them a better player. Among then a very few make it in the professional arena of sports. For instance it is said that in United States alone 50,000 people pick up tennis as a hobby. 25,000of them are kids; of the remaining 25,000 only 10,000people continue playing it for clubs; 5,000 people get coaching; 500 are qualified to play in a competition; 100 enter the game; 4 play in the semi-finals; 2 in the finals and just 1-the winner.

The one winner takes home all. He becomes famous. He gets all the money. He is recognized as an international personality, a sportsperson and his signature becomes an autograph. These things make a person choose sports as their profession. Small time player to a professional athlete. With professionalism come expenses. For example, if one wants to start up with playing cricket, it would stock up with expenses of buying a kit, bats, coach, joining a team, transport, uniforms, etc. Every time a player wants to play in a team, even may be for the Ranji Trophy, it would prove to be a costly affair. So sponserors would be roped in to get on with the expenses. Indian team being favoured with sponsors like Sahara, Airtel, Reliance is all evident.

More than playing a game, India worships its players. Admiration often turns into hero-worship, patriotism turns into uncalled for riotism. People would pay Rs.29, 000 to just watch Roger Federer play on the court. Since people would pay huge sums, professional league started as some organisers thought its one way of generating quick revenue and also one way to make that very sport gain popularity. Professional league tournaments were hence started. The best example to analyse is the IPL(Indian premier league).

Cricket being an old gentle-man's sport took off first as IPL; after the football world cup played in Brazil, people in India conceived an idea about starting other sports to gain the public interest and hence make accept it. Kabbadi teams cropped up with film personalities buying teams as of being potential sponsors. After meeting a successful end with masses readily accepting the sport, organisers looked into different areas. Today Professional league tournaments include hockey, tennis, football as well. So many people who had talent but no opportunity came forward and hence got a chance to play and fight for something they believed in. So these professional league tournaments obviously became a boon to budding players. This set the wheel of Indian sports in motion. This very idea of regional sports captured the attention of millions across our country.

With every advantage comes a power, with every power comes great responsibility. One such responsibility is hiring "Indians only" in any sport. When only Indians are recruited, more and more people would practice with the hopes of actually getting into their respective sports professionally. More than Indians playing in our tournaments, we often witness players from other countries playing. They lead our teams, they are selected as team captains, products purchased also are imported from a foreign land. And what not? This is not what one would see after being declared independent. Even after six decades, it looks like we prefer to be 'led' and not 'lead'. Some people would contradict this by saying people only would pay to watch international players, and that would bring back not just what one has invested, but also hit profits. But isn't this curbing, suppressing opportunities to budding players? Will they ever get a chance to showcase and let the people witness their skills and talents? It's simply depriving the people off their opportunities.

Villages in India are often regarded as the backbone our land. People with poor economic background also have great talent. Their skill sometimes remains unmatched even with the foreign players. Professional league will prove to be a complete boon to budding players only if the team will completely sustain Indian players. Else this will again prove to be a monopoly of the foreigners'. If one asks to pick one among Kapil Dev or Chris Gayle, people without a second thought would pick Kapil. And this person happens to be an Indian.

Sports ultimately, at the end of the day is just not a game. It is so much more than that. It's just not about winning or losing. It's about the sheer pride and joy and the spirit of the game played. In India people understand that it's not about the victory, but all about the journey. People will respect the budding players even more, for all the fight they put on in the game. And players find it a matter of honour to win on their soil, more than anywhere else. By training and letting these budding Indian players play in the professional leagues, one day India will be counted among the countries where champions are made.

-Arjun. Sanghvi

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