We are living in a world that is constantly changing. Yet, ironically, India’s Sports bodies do not want to change. Implying that either our present sports administrations are much superior to that of other countries or that we have interests other then sports and prestige of our country guiding our actions.
Why are sports important? Why should WE as a Nation bother?
We bother because we take pride to be Indians and sports is directly linked to national pride.
Sports are a part of any countries ‘soft power’ projection and to take charge of our own destiny in the arena of sports, we need to involve all stakeholders right from stage of preparation to celebration of victories. It’s time that positive changes were introduced in the functioning of Sports bodies.
The onus to bring in the change thus falls onto the ‘Ministry’ that deals with Indian sports. It is here the surgeon’s knife, which cuts to heal is required. If this is termed as ‘intervention’, then it is life saving intervention. In short, we have to rescue sports from administrative apathy and lethargy.
The sports bodies are crying foul about infringement of autonomy. The writing is on the wall, the governments that have set their houses in order are of major sporting nations- USA (Ted Stevens and Amateur Sports Act 1998), South Africa (National Sports and Recreation Act 1998), France (France Code of Sports) last amended in 2006, to the extent our neighbours too have kept pace, Sri Lanka (Sports Act 2005), Malaysia (Sports Development Act 1997) to name a few.
Lets consider the key issues being introduced via the bill:-
Sports persons to be part of governing body: A governing body is the highest decision making entity in sports bodies. Consider this, you go for an emergency operation in a hospital and find the team about to operate on you is that of MBA’s; would you let them operate just because they partly administer the hospital. Why is result so important here and not in sports; because here the pain is part of us, however in sports we can get into denial mode and look the other way. The presence of sportspersons will provide the much-needed technical expertise while taking important decisions in the interest of the sport. The sportspersons, to be on the board, will be elected from amongst themselves.
The sports bodies to come under ‘Right To Information Act’: Administering sports for a country is a public obligation not a private business. It gives the administrators privileges and also shoulders them with certain responsibilities -being answerable to the citizens of the country. RTI is however applicable for only a part of the functions of the sports bodies and not with team selections and personal information about the athlete. Coming under the purview of RTI Act has a big pay off too; transparency in the functioning of the sports bodies will encourage corporates to extend financial support, something that is lacking in present sporting environment. The present decadence in our sports bodies and the way they are perceived is a direct result of lack of transparency and application of RTI Act will go a long way in ameliorating the situation.
The age and tenure limit: Now per se, I agree that age and efficiency are not indirectly proportional. There are a few good workers in our existing sport bodies. The exceptions however prove the rule. A sports body ought to be quite the opposite of a permanent residence; it should be the active grounds for bright ideas, administrators on their toes just as the athletes are, that’s when you are poised to perform. The occupants state a counter charge, “the prime minister does not have an age or tenure limit so why should we”. This only suggests the absurdity of the argument. The closest example should have been the charter of the IOC (International Olympic Committee) itself, which limits the age and tenure. It is followed in many countries including USA and China yet the IOC does not recommend it for India. 12 years, as the suggested tenure cap, is a time long enough for policies to be implemented and their results to be seen. For the efficient, it is enough and for others it will never be enough.
The ‘mantra’ to success in any field is adaptation and innovation, infusion of new ideas and good doze of young blood. In sports too this is the path to follow and the road to success has to begin by changing the way our Sports bodies are organized and the way our sports mandarins work.