Live Sport, Live Life…

>I am inspired to write this on the back of India completing its 58th Republic Day last week & I enjoying yet another successful Friday morning in all departments of the game – Batting, Bowling and Fielding.

I sat on the 26th of Jan watching the Republic day parade celebrations going on in New Delhi on TV. India’s rich culture, its versatile geography, nature’s gifts in the form of rivers & the mountains, different climatic seasons, fertile river banks, her diverse mix of people, our tremendous belief in spirituality & human values never cease to amaze me. You just feel a lot at home when you are living in India. It’s so comfortable – you would not find politics and diplomacy in your relations with your near and dear ones, you share a lot of fun with your friends, your relatives & even your neighbours!!! Despite the various personal or professional setbacks one has, you would always find someone of your own who supports you through the tough times – something which I feel originates from India’s ancient culture. In the last 58 years, a lot has definitely changed. India has made giant strides in different walks of life. Our economy is growing rapidly. I really am not aware of any statistics in this regard but we sure have set ourselves on the path of tremendous progress.

The news also brought to light our darker side – incidents like the Nithari killings, the Jessica Lal murder case and more recently the fake encouters in J&K. It’s sad to watch and read about them and it made me think more about the way the present generation (atleast in cities) has been brought up. When I look at our city life, it’s so very busy. There is not enough time for parents to be with their children, to teach them good values or just spend enough time playing with them or addressing their curiosity. They say, “Money talks and Money walks” even if you end up doing a job which you know is well below your intellectual capabilities but is earning you the big bucks simply because you happen to put in 10 hrs a day in office and you still feel proud about it!!!

There was a time when I used to complete a part of my school homework by 5:00 pm and no later would you find me in my half-pants (as they were popularly called then :)) on the building compound or nearby ground or a nearby court batting, bowling, fielding, kicking the ball, saving goals, hitting smashes with alarming accuracy in TT (and I was damn good at that) or even the odd games of “sakhli” or “Pakda Pakdi” or “dabba express” which we engaged in after the primary sport was over for the day. Play time continued for a minimum of 2 hrs if not more and I am ever grateful to my mom who did not send me to evening tutions as was the case with some of my friends. I enjoyed every bit of it, it imbibed in me a spirit which is truly unique – I call it the sportsman spirit. It taught me to be honest & dignified even if it meant to lose a game and ever humble even after effecting a brilliant save or playing a superb shot!!!

To my great satisfaction, these qualities could be found in certain measure in all the people alongside whom I played and this certainly enhanced my interest, commitment & love towards sports in general. This also did meant I was kept away from the regular fare of video games which was quite popular in those days. In todays’ times, when I do come home or have the occasional rounds of my school grounds, I only find the regular players playing – no new additions!!! Sometimes, I just begin to wonder where are all the kids?? Maybe they are busy in tutions or playing video games or maybe just chit-chatting or gossipping their evenings. If this continues to be the case, I am sorry to be harsh but have to admit that India has no socially wealthy future.

Sport is life. Life is sport. This saying is the ultimate for me. It epitomises everything for me. I may sound partial but there are certain things which no other form of education can provide us. Sport inculcates in us a spirit of self-will. In today’s sedentary world, it helps us remove our physical restlessness & build our health. So what? Even jogging or going to the gym daily can help us do all that. The most important thing that sport does is build our character!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes, I am talking about that form of sport which is true in nature. There might be many who may turn up to play but not many who are truly a sportsperson. I am not talking about the professional players but about the sportsperson in each one of us. A true sportsperson is epitomised by a character of the highest order. Only a military education could inculcate more discipline than sport but even that comes more so out of punishments being meted out to the guilty. For a true sportsperson, he or she simply enjoys the discipline of sport and consequently is able to perform well in it.

Sports is an important distraction as well esp in today’s times where too much information is available in the hands of almost anyone and which can induce the young to do something wrong or immoral. Sports helps esp the youth to stay away from lust, temptation, immoral thoughts and deeds and channelises their energy towards something useful, constructive and helps to improve even their mental powers of concentration. The importance of this cannot be exaggerated and only if parents sincerely encourage their children to play regularly would we see a new dynamic, educated yet virtuous India !!!

I have seen people in office and elsewhere who have little or nothing to do with sport & those who atleast enjoy discussing India’s performance on the field for the day. Quite remarkably, I notice the latter as being extremely different in their thinking and ideas, ready to live life more and in simple terms, “a better human being” overall than the former who continue to live their routine life and would hesitate to add any dynamism to it.

I am quoting from what my friend once told me. The great Swami Vivekanand had said, “Football is a better way of taking us closer to GOD than reading the Vedas”. The truth is this statement is quite remarkable.

Even as India stands on the threshold of big things, an olympic gold medal still continues to elude us 1 billion people. We are yet to play at the soccer world cup let alone winning one. Our national sport continues to decline as politicians continue to poke their dirty noses in it. Dogged by controversies and handicapped by lack of infrastructure, I feel sad for the greats of the yesteryears who had taken Indian hockey to unimaginable levels. We continue to receive mixed results from Tennis, TT and badminton but I am sure we can do better. Chess is the only glittering sport at the moment but sponsorship is lacking. It’s unfortunate to see something as beautiful as sport become a victim of that dreaded money!!!!!!!! So can the BCCI share some of its whopping deals and earnings with other sports? Maybe it can but when those chaps end up putting only 2% of their earnings into improving domestic cricket facilities, what more can we expect?

I wish as in all other fields, it’s the people and not the bureaucrats or the administrators or the politicans who can bring about a revolution and witness India making its mark in the world of sport!!! Ofcourse, the corporates need to provide sponsorhips, the money should be pooled in to develop the infrastructure and offer world-class facilities. But it all starts with that one small step – allowing the kid to play 5 pm onwards everday!!! Miracles have happened in the past and history does repeat itself!!!