Cricket and Hockey in India – State of the Sports
The state of sports and sports persons in India could not have been better explained than it was over the last two days. On the one hand, the euphoria created by the Indian Cricket team’s fantastic win in the T20 World Cup in South Africa and on the other the threat by the Hockey players, who won the Asia Cup Hockey tournament in spectacular fashion not long ago, to go on a hunger strike in protest of the rewards being showered by the state governments on cricketers. While the cricketers get loads of rewards in cash and kind, the Hockey team gets a Rs 1000 ‘incentive‘ for every goal scored. In such a scenario, could their protest be more justified?
Hockey might be the our national game but cricket rules our minds and hearts. Unfortunately, or shall we say thanks to the pathetic sports administrators, there is a lack of level playing field for the two sports to compete for the attention of viewers or sponsors. The imbalance can be guaged by the fact that there is a sports channel dedicated to cricket, whereas most of the viewers are not even aware of when or where the next Hockey tournament of which India is a part will be held.
The cricketers deserved all the praise they got, they played superbly. And initially the rewards too made sense, since most of them came from the BCCI. But what started like a small party began to look a gaudy wedding of a millionaire’s son/daughter…the likes of which we keep reading about in newspapers every now and then. Chief Ministers of different states lost no time in announcing huge rewards to the cricketers from their states with the obvious intention of cashing in on the opportunity to gain attention. Even the Telangana Rashtra Samiti announced rewards!
While the TRS can be excused–it most probably used its own black-money-filled cauffers–what reason do the other parties in power have to spend the tax payer’s money in this manner? I dont think many people want to know answers to these questions. They are just too lost in the T20 euphoria and once this euphoria dies down, they won’t worry about it anyway. At least the Hockey team has raised a voice. And I feel that there could not have been a better time to do so.
I am hopeful as ever that things change for the better.