Jul 30, 2012


It's that time of the year again. When our archers bow out, boxers hang up their gloves, the only shuttle our badminton players latch on to is the one ferrying them to the airport, tennis players create a racket, shooters fail to fire, wrestlers grapple with the bitter truth, swimmers sink into oblivion, runners go off-track and even the guy on the boat has a har-rowing experience. (Do they give out medals for maximum bad puns in a sentence? No? Dammit!).

That time of the year when Indians suddenly wake up to the fact that we don't have world-class athletes and newspapers start pulling out old cliches like "a nation of one billion plus can't produce even a single Olympic champion." Hello, is it our fault that they don't award gold medals for making babies. At least, we are close to beating China in that indiscipline.

If having sheer numbers were sufficient to throw up some super-achievers, then a trillion houseflies would have produced an Olympian housefly. As one of my friends keeps pointing out, a million monkeys banging on keyboards may produce a Shakespearean drama, but the interesting thing is what they come up with the rest of the time. And in India's case, a million slightly-evolved monkeys banging each other only seem to produce a billion unfit monkeys.

And when all the hoopla is done and dusted, we'll go back to our favourite scapegoats. Too much attention to cricket. Too little money for athletes elsewhere. Corruption. Politics. Government doesn't support sport (Or as the Punjabis would say "Gorment-waale sport ko spport nahi karte hain ji!"). The 'white' judges cheated us since we are brown. Suresh Kalmadi. Aamir Khan didn't make a tragic-senti episode on sports in India. It was rahu-kalam when we left for London. Yada Yada. (Do they give out medals for whining? No? At least for making excuses? Not even that? No wonder we don't win too many medals. They have no events which cater to any of our traditional strengths!)

Meanwhile, we seem to be doing good in some other places. Our kids keep winning the Spelling Bee. And we seem to ace a lot of competitive exams. Is it co-incidence? Or are we innately more brainy than people from other countries? Or is it simply because, every time a kid in India shows some interest in sports and wants to pursue it seriously, his or her parents subtly at first, vehemently later, snatch away the bat / racquet /  hockey stick and shove entrance exam prep papers and say "beta, all this play will not feed you. Concentrate  on your studies, get a good job and settle down."

So the next time we start listing down the reasons why India doesn't do well at the Olympics, may I humbly suggest adding "middle class apathy to sports" to the list of popular scapegoats? Or do I hear a "But it is so much easier to blame politics. And Suresh Kalmadi."? 


  1. Whatte punoramic view on olympics!

    At first, looking at the title, I thought this post was going to be about Shun Fujimoto or something along that line.

  2. @ cmus:

    punoramic is a nice word! and by now, you should know that I'm rarely serious... so, always assume that posts would talk nonsense!