Sports Status – Pathetic Management

Often we hear that the sports management by government sports bodies is very bad in the country.

We also keep seeing that corruption is part and parcel of sports in India, even in a famous national sport like Cricket.

Therefore, no body is surprised with the fact that India is not a superpower in sports.

If sports bodies are managed by politicians who are well-reputed for their role in some of the worst scandals that the country has seen in the sports arena, then one can imagine where India is headed. No chance of beating China ever, which has totally professionalized the management and administration of sports and has put in place an effective system for getting the best out of its sportspersons.

Today, I had the opportunity to see in close quarters what actually happens in a district-level tennis competition, in which my son was participating. I had to kill some 3 hours, and nothing is more interesting than observing the behaviour of parents, coaches, participants, and the organizers. I spent a good part of the time in trying to understand what was going on.

As I had expected, initially there was utter confusion – this is very normal in India, and one should not lose his or her cool, just wait patiently and the confusion would dissolve in a short time, which it did – only it took some one hour or so ! There was no proper coordination amongst the schools and the organizers (who were from the district tennis body). There was no chart displayed outside the tennis academy with names and timings of the competition. People were constantly walking in and out. There was a lot of noise, and if one official-looking guy walked around with a piece of paper in his hands, the boys ran after him, trying to figure out when their allotted time would come and who they are going to compete with.

I was comparing mentally with Singapore and even the advanced international schools in Mumbai – a feeling of efficiency and fairness comes upon you when you witness the preparations and the communication in these places. In almost all other places in India, there seems to be a lack of efficiency and a lack of communication – not a lack of energy, of course !

Well, one has to live with that – India is not going to change in many areas, and sports management is one such area. After a lot of confusion, and time loss, the pairings of competitors was done but not announced. We reached the venue at 8:15 AM on a Sunday morning, and the competition started around 10:30 AM !

The boys were of course not upset, they were networking with other boys ! The parents were visibly upset and complaining to each other. The coaches from some of the schools were present, and they were giving some advise to their respective wards. The organizers seem to be the most upset and confused – I thought how that could be, these are the folks who are supposed to be running the competition. I heard one of them responding to an irate parent as follows: “we are volunteers and not government officials – we have to do free work running around and doing the coordination. Please wait, we will sort out the matter”.

That, for you, is the status of one simple district-level competition, with some 60 participants or so. Imagine the situation when hundreds of sports people need to be coordinated and managed efficiently. Surely we are not up to the mark. Can we use some software here please ?!!!

Extrapolation to the general state of sports in the country may not be the right thing to do, neither is it the correct way to assess things. However, can anyone blame me for writing this post – only small incidents help to form the opinion wherein one is somewhat involved or affected.


Vijay Srinivasan
21st October 2012


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