“Maybe it is just a matter of growing up. Fans do tend to be children. They try to pretend that the athlete of their fancy is out there doing what he excels at for some good or glory than a buck. That naive view is probably the hub of the problem, and the fault lies with the fan, not the athlete who always knew he was playing for dollars and not much else”
– (Late) Mark McCormack, founder IMG.
In a country of almost a billion in population the need for entertainment is tremendous and there are various entertainment industries that exist in India. The movie industry is by far the most successful industry, there are thousands of movies that are made every year enough to keep the masses glued to the screens.
The immediate following competitive mode of entertainment in India is ‘Cricket’; mark my words ‘ Cricket ‘. Despite of the numerous other games that are played in India its cricket that has excelled and become a phenomenon in India. While cricket’s gargantuan presence invites anger and jealousy, the fact remains that it is the only sport in the country that has provided superstars through its own system. Cricket, which was introduced by the British and reached the regular masses years after it was first played, and has now become a rage in this nation, there were many other games that the British had popularized in India, but failed to make it big. Football being the finest example and the biggest casualty.
Never the less, the fact that cricket rules Indian sports has to be accepted by other sports associations. There are games like Football, Tennis, Motor sports, Athletics, Golf, Hockey and Chess that have established themselves in the sports business sector and have managed to create their own identity in their own special ways, it’s a myth that India lacks in sporting talent Viswanathan Anand, Dhanraj Pillay, Baichung Bhutia, Mahesh Bhupati, Leander Paes, Jyoti Randhawa, Tarun Chandok and many more came up in spite of the system. There is lots of room for other sports to grow in India, but the main concern is that who will initiate and how will this process of increasing the potential of sports business in India shape up? Take the case of Hockey.
This discipline was up for grabs as India has had a rich tradition of Hockey performances at Asian and International levels. Indian hockey has a comprehensive league structure and tags of winning Olympic podium finish, Asian games gold’s and the title of winning the world cup at junior levels, still the game has no takers in terms of media and broadcast. The International Hockey Federation (IHF) strives hard for the development of the game but is not complimented by the government. IHF chief KPS Gill blames the government for not playing an active part in the growth of Hockey. Decreasing financial support each year is a major concern, but the efforts put in by the IHF are as good as negligible, as they can regulate their own authority to market the game well, which has not been done in the past. Chess is another sport to have witnessed a phenomenal growth rate. Grand masters are churned out by dozens, most of them teenagers. So what if it took Viswanathan Anand to trigger the chess revolution, credit must to the All India Chess Federation and its coaches for belting out champion grandmasters in early ages, but unfortunately the need to promote the game on television was neglected. The All India Tennis Association (AITA) can be termed as a successful sports federation in India besides Cricket’s national governing body.
AITA has developed champion players who have played for India and individually and managed to achieve success fairly. Indian tennis has always been brilliant at international levels, as India has not lost its rank of Asia’s numero uno nation. Despite of possessing the infrastructure and investing in national and international age group tournaments the sport continues to suffer from an inferiority complex as government grants and corporate sponsorship is not easily available.
This blog was written by me on 24/03/2009 just before my IMG Summer Intern ship Interview @IMG London. This article is old but yet very relevant. Hope you like the article.