..of Cricket and of degrading the remaning sportstars

India’s golden girl PT Usha burst into tears on Monday. Usha, who came for 49th National Open Athletics Championship in Bhopal, was unhappy with the accommodation provided to her by the organisers. When the former track queen asked for better accommodation, she was refused by the officials. As a result of that Usha broke down into tears in front of the media.

Regarded as queen of Indian track and field, P. T. Usha has been associated with Indian athletics since 1979. She is one of the greatest athletes India has ever produced.. She became the first Indian woman (and the fifth Indian) to reach the final of an Olympic event by winning her 400 m hurdles Semi-final. In the 1984 Los Angeles OlympicsUsha lost the bronze by 1/100th of a second.

PT Usha said that if this happens to her then its quite imaginable what happens to the other struggling athletes, she also said that this is the only reason why parents don’t want their children to join athletics. Athletes in India are deprived of proper accommodation, proper training facilities, proper income and proper importance.

ushaUsha is one among the prominent ones who took India’s name to heights ,in the field of athletic ,and the other one being Milkhs Singh.If not for Usha,India would have been one among the Golden-zero nations,in various international meets.Today,rather than sitting back and dreaming about her past records,she is busy working , moulding new saniaathletes ,and runs a sports school “ Usha School of Athletics”.. And as a nation,what have we given her in return? Oh yes,I am not generalizing a particular incident,nor am I trying to idolize Usha. But am I wrong if I say that except for cricketers,no other WORTHY sportsman is given due credit in India. Well,name Sania Mirza..But she would not have been perceived this way if she was dusky and less pretty.People (majority) adored her for her beauty and not her sportsman skills.Am I wrong? Those who didn’t know ABCD of tennis too were her hard-core fans..So forget such handpicked sports-men/women,I would say that except for cricket,no other players received their due credit.

Heard about Milka Singh-the flying sikh? Hear him when he rejected the Arjuna award “I am not going to take this award because this award is not fit for a life time achievment. I have already written to Ms Bharti that after 40 years she thought of giving me this award. I am honoured and grateful to them but this is not the time to give me this award. It would have been alright if I had got this award forty years ago.” [source] Its ironic that Arjuna Award was started in 1961,the very next year when Milkha Singh achieved fourth place in Rome Olympics.Its funny that India took 40 long years to give an athlete his due credit (He is a recipient of Padma Shri)

Ever heard of Indian Football Team that made entry into Olympics semi-final (for the first and last time) ? Chances are few,as people are busy watching cricket and drooling over their idols. Let me tell you how India rewarded them for their achievement..

New Delhi, September 1, 2009 “ Surviving members of the Indian football team that reached the semifinals of the 1956 Melbourne Olympics have decided to return a monetary grant sent by the All India Football Federation (AIFF).

Samar (Bardu) Banerjee, the captain of the team, conveyed the decision here on Tuesday. “Nine of the 18 member squad who are surviving felt humiliated by the unsolicited grant of Rs. 25,000 sent by the AIFF,” said Banerjee.

“We are not beggars that the national federation would be doling out a pitiful grant 53 years after our achievement,” he added[source]

Is this the way we are to treat those people who brought fame to our motherland?


p.s: I am not into the typical “blame it on cricket”.. But tell me who else is to be blamed?Blame it on media,blame it on government,blame it on the mass..whatever…But its sad and bad that we are doing this to people who work hard and reach heights,but are trashed at their own homeland where they ought to be appreciated and credited..

  1. Ah, Nimmy…That’s why Indian sports is in the doldrums today…

  2. Hmmm what to say,it was so sad to hear about usha’s unfortunate incident.It was not just accomodation prob,in fact sports minister Mr Gill asked the officals to provide necessary arrangements to Usha.Still they didn’t provide any.I couldn’t believe that SAI officals didn’t recognise such a person who dedicated her life for athletics.Anyways finally it is good to hear that they honoured her right way ,though it was late(seems the minister went to her room at mid night and apologized to her for inconvenience and convinced her to move to a better room).
    Yeahh u are right apart from cricket players(stars),no other worthy sportsman is given due credit in India.The result is we,the country who boast of highly developing,100 crore population don’t have even a good football player(forget about good team),good athlet or good basket ball player which match international standards.
    It is not medias or masses prob,coz cricket is the only game, which india come with flying colour in international sports often(i think BCCI is indipendent to government).It is obiviously our irresponsible,incapable politicans in government responsible for all these.probably we can learn a lot from sports divison of china and australia and how they have improved themselves in last 20 years
    P.S : I thought about writing the same .Though you already wrote a very good article,i’m summarising what i feel about the same here 🙂

  3. Who ever it is to be blamed… Cricket is not to be blamed. !!!!!

    Absolutely not… !!!

  4. although I have thousands of complaints about the BCCI…

    I must say its a far better alternative compared to the government… !!!

    • Exactly Dhiren, at least they are doing something properly and getting the good results.
      between I’m not a cricket fan.I like football and badminton :).

  5. I think our obsession with cricket, does result in the other sports being neglected.. It is such a pity, that every other nation seems to focus on their sports people, except ours.. In India. you can be successful as a sportsperson, only if you have your own money and contacts and can manage to reach high, without any govt help..

  6. Not cricket, but the glamour and money associated with it is responsible for this..thats the reason I never watch cricket, nor idolise cricketers, I had felt very sad when once late Sunil dutt as sports minister visited a camp and found our athletes in pathetic conditions, whereas Dhoni is the highest earner today.

    • Nimmy
    • October 9th, 2009

    @Bones.. 🙂

    @Anish..I echo your thoughts..It is strange and odd that SAI receptionist didn’t recognise Usha..duh..So much of qualification to work in a sprot authority office,na? The fact that there are not many quality players of sports doesn’t mean that indians are good for none-except cricket..Lack of opportunities and infrastructure and lack of proper policing is to be blamed..Cricket players come up and show good frm because they are trained so and their skills are poliched..How many sport activities are as lucky as cricket? Is it just that there isn’t anybody talented here in this land of 1,147,995,904????

    @Dhiren..Cricket is not to be blamed..i agree..But why is it that cricket alone is promoted this way?

    @Smitha..Exactly dear..I would quote Abhinav Bindra as an example to what you said..His father was rich,got a forigen trainer,gave him infrastructre and facilities using his won money and in the end,when he has acheievd an olympic medal,politicians and authorities are fighting to pose with him..Shameless people..

    @Renu..Glad to see you here after a long time 🙂 You are right..The money inflow in high,indeed very high.. and thatz where the difference starts with..

    p.s: I am wondering why wordpress won’t let me reply to comments through edit and quickedit,directly from dashboard..Anybody help me????

    • Nimmy…

      cricket is promoted this way coz government has nothing to do with it… its BCCI who looks after it.. !!

      Infact the hard and real fact is this is not a team that represents India… its the BCCI it represents… !!!!

      😦 😦

        • Nimmy
        • October 9th, 2009

        I know hitchy..I am not putting blame on one particular game or its players..But on the people behind the curtain. Would one ever snatch the flag from a person like Usha,during SAF games in 1995 or so,in public…?? Its the respective fedeartions to be blames.It is sad that others can’t learn much from the success story of cricket.. Blaming cricket for one’s failure is escapism,i agree.. It would take lot of effort to divert people’s attention from cricket to anything else,with same vigour and passion,as they would watch cricket..

        All said,it is good to idolize people,may i be from cricket or from tennis,but depreiving the rest of worthy people of some basic manners and dignity is wrong..

    • Swaram
    • October 9th, 2009

    Hw does it even help with so less audience for the other games 😦
    Come Cricket and I see ppl r on their toes to leave office 😦
    Somewhere, we r wrong too in all that love we heap on our cricketers and nt even a fraction of it on others 😦 .. nt the majority of ppl atleast! Sad but true 😦
    I felt really really bad on seeing what happened with one lady who hs made us so so proud! Being a woman, I am all the more proud abt her for striking such a perfect balance in her life!

      • Nimmy
      • October 9th, 2009

      🙂 so true Swaram..She is an adorable,polite lady…

  7. and when she lost in 84 by the 100th of a second, the papers called her Pity Usha….why does the media do this….they make and break ppl and the sports of a nation…Thank God, there were Olympic medals in other sports… Tennis (Paes), now boxing (Vijendra Singh), archery (Bindra) are getting a little more coverage…And thanks to Chak De for reviving Hockey…..anyway Hadippa has proved that cricket in itself cannot make a blockbuster of a film!!!

    First time here and will get back

  8. Our obsession with Cricket is the reason why our Cricketers in our country enjoy a demigod status and every other sportsmen is treated like piece of c**p. PT Usha is right. If she is treated this way then imagine what is the condition of other sports people.

    Prakash Padukone who made India proud in the 80s live a normal upper-middle class life. The funding of his sports school in Bangalore is also through the friendly matches he plays. Now that his daughter is an actor and made a huge name in Bollywood, she brings in more revenue by asking other actors to play for the fund. Actors and Cricketers enjoy almost equal status as we see in many advertisements.

    National Sports Days in India is celebrated on Dhyanchand’s birthday but he died penniless. Khel ratna awards is given around the time and still most of them are awarded to Cricketers.

    Boxer Vijender wins Bronze in Beijing Olymics and still no Padmashri. Who got? Harbhajan Singh. Saina Nehwal who was ranked 10 badminton player in the world was omitted too.

    In September 2009, AIBA announced Vijender as the top-ranked boxer in its annual middle-weight. Still no celebrations. We are more worried about ICC Champions Trophy.

    We are to be blamed. Our obsession with glamor be it Cricket or Bollywood.

    • PT Usha and Shiny Wilson were not treated well by Kerala govt. either. Jayalalitha gave a spacious accommodation and all perks to Shiny Wilson and she chose to represent Tamilnadu. Poor Usha suffered enough because of internal politics in Kerala and now this humiliation. Hope more sports people speak up and they have a better representation.

  9. Old times

  10. It was quite sad to see her teats on tv. Poor woman. One keeps hearing stories of retired people like her being treated shabbily and I guess they are treated worse than retired cricketers. However it all boils down to money. More money in cricket. More money in cricket because the public likes cricket.

  11. It is sad that incident happened to PT usha and that is only one incident which has come out and i am sure there would have been many incidents with her or any other sports person other than the cricket has faced it.
    When sania mirza first represented india at junior level she was given some acres of land by CM of andhra for free and she build a huge mansion there.If the same money given to usha she would have used that money in her academy.But sania mirza was also critized by the people of hyd that she being a girl wears short skirts and plays tennis,even her doctor was threatened not to treat her.

    As said my others we parents watch cricket,that influence the kids to play only cricket and at a young age they have their cricket heros,our media should focus more on the other sports, maybe kids of this generation take up the other sports than cricket.

  12. I dont understand, why you blame cricket? you should blame it on the Govt,the federation of Atletics etc..and definetly not cricket…

    Here in Oman, they criticize football similiar to cricket back home…

    cricket has growm on its own..it so happenned people have a great passion for the game…my grandfather used to travel 10 kms by walk to listen to the commentary way back in 40s….in 80s i cut class to rush home to listen to the famous ashes series commentary involving bearley….such is the passion we have for cricket..at that time there was no money in the game..but there were lot of people with passion following the game..and this has growm manyfolds..thanks to media, money, the genuine followers were lost…

  13. Nimmy, I was very sad to read about the way P.T.Usha was treated. She deserves better.

    And yes, I blame cricket and the Indian public that glamorises cricket at the cost of other sports, for this situation.

  14. I agree with you!

  15. Good post. If Usha had rested on her laurels and joined a Public Sector job which was offered to her she must have been leading a comfortable life. But Usha was always different. Her passion for Athletics and love for her native place made her start a Sports school near her village. Even in this initial period she got some successes with her wards . I am sure she will fight on and will overcome all these hurdles. My feeling is Cricket along with tennis and Golf were always in a higher pedestal, being played by the ‘Gentlemen’. So the media attention was always more compared to say Football . This was true in England also till the first half of last century. With the eclipse of feudal land lords and full democratization of the society the ‘common man’s game Football became the centre of media attention there. Why such a change did not occur in India? I do not know. May be because cricket changed or because we are still partly feudal society.I do not know. Just one of my theories

  16. I think cricket instantaneously clicks with all Indians… But other games also do, only the opportunities are very rare for some one to shine in those (unless someone is not dependant on that game for sole income like our Olympics gold winner). Even in my school, there was one guy who used to play excellent football – his skills were exceptional when compared to others back then – but he never had a worthy opposition or good players to play with – that also deters some people… of course the attitude of people that sports would ‘come in the way’ of studies – I guess this is to be blamed much more than the obsession with cricket.

    Destination Infinity

  17. the problem is Nimmy, not many gets the exposure of other games so easily in India.. all they see is Cricket…

    Even a non-cricket lover was forced to wtach the game due to the craziness surrounding it….

    and also the facilities here in India for sports are pathetic… except cricket and some other games… a big ground is needed… and also that many members…

    hockey at its pathetic best now…

    and P.T.Usha’s incident is not an unexpected one… these kinda incidents are always on the cards… time to take the other sports seriously…

    2010 Commmonwealth games are nearing.. as a hosting nation I am not hearing anything special from Delhi…
    see how Beijing prepared for Olympics and took the top spot…

    a real revamp of things is needed here,….

  18. I agree,Nimmy.Cricket is one of the most over rated sports in our country.I did watch the news about the pathetic way PT Usha was treated.
    I could totally agree with her when she said its because of the callous attitude towards athletes that parents shirk from letting their children take up sports as a profession.
    Its a sorry state of affairs indeed!

  19. Just blame it on us(We …the people of India)…Becoz we are not a sporting nation.
    The countries who win tons of medals,do u know what their citizens do on weekends.
    They play….and take their kids to watch local league matches…no matter even if its a college match.Local sportsmen are local heroes there..Annual sports events are much awaited spectacle there.
    And what do we do….we go for movies followed by a restaurant.Or we sit on our couches glued to computer screens and TV’s.
    So stop cribbing and blaming anyone else for dismal situation of sports.The best u can do is play a sport urself…

  20. What P.T. Usha has suffered is worse than ever imagined. We need serious reform in sports committee and at SAI level. The people who have no prior experince or knowledge are handling the games administration. Cricket is not treated as sport at all, it’s an execution of our dreams. But to blame all faults on cricket is wrong. India does not have sporting culture, cricket is just an obsession of followers. Its same as mass consumption…

    • muralee maadhav
    • October 26th, 2009

    I played cricket in university. no other sport can boast of the technical finesse involved in cricket. its a civilized ball game devoid of the physical violence of rugby, football etc. cricket is one game where the individual and team efforts essentially compliment each other. I, who taught my son cricket even before he could spell the word, stopped watching him play even the games he captained because Hansi Cronje betrayed me! followed by Azaruddin, followed by Jadeja. Do not blame the media. the media survive by giving what the populace wants. If cricket is a life ‘n death matter for Indians its because its the only thing, sporting or otherwise, that allows one billion people to feel genuinely proud of themselves.Do not under-estimate the emotional right of a citizenry to feel proud of something as a nation! But undue and unjustified financial gains associated with and available in cricket has translated the love for the game to love for money, making players unpatriotic without any sting of conscience and greedy business magnets and betting mafias to wallow in easily amassed wealth, cashing in on the national pride. Usha… please.. she deserves respect at least! Sanya possess “balls that bounce” when she plays. her tennis attracts those who do not know ABC of the game, because the player is a visual feast herself!

  21. Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting, aged 36 and 34 respectively, have rejuvenated themselves enough to be back at the top of their games, in different ways. Not that the dips were long, but there have been stifled, sporadic calls for them to quit at least one form of the game, if not both. For players who have played so well for so long, motivation is not likely to be an issue, but it is also conspicuous they now derive joy from different aspects of their games.

    Tendulkar has been remarkable for not living in denial. He realised long before the rest of the world did that he needed to change his game. He respected age. He stopped making jaws drop, and instead began to appeal to the wise heads that will admire a swallowed ego and a more complete batsman. For about a couple of years we found it hard to reconcile the consciously cautious man of this decade with the terror that bowlers knew in the one before. As with all rediscoveries, this took some time, and once the new Tendulkar started scoring consistently again, we began to marvel. Genius had worked, and we didn’t even realise.

    Since the start of the year 2008, Tendulkar has averaged 47.05 (career average 44.48) and struck at 90.22 per 100 balls (career strike-rate 85.74). That he has played just 23 matches over the period shows he has picked and chosen. It’s a conscious effort to stay fit and ready till the 2011 World Cup, something that can’t be easy for a man who has played through pain for most of his career. But he wants another shot at the World Cup, missing which might cause him more mental pain than the physical pain he has endured. And when it comes to the next biggest challenge, playing Ponting’s men, it is natural he play.

    Australia, though, don’t evoke the awe they used to or the aura they used to carry. Ponting’s has been a bittersweet experience of captaining the side: two Ashes losses in themselves would have been reason enough for capital punishment for an Australian captain in an era gone by. A first-round exit in the 2009 World Twenty20 goes with it. But Ponting and the Australian board realise that perhaps their team has to spend time rediscovering itself, much like Tendulkar has done with his game. It shows in how they don’t talk big before the big series; winning has become the new talking.

    Although Ponting may not figure in the list of greatest captains from Australia, his team, like Tendulkar’s game, has maintained a certain level of efficiency. But Ponting needed to do more than chew nails, spit in his hands, look frustrated on the field and get frustrated on the field, and that need to express himself has manifested itself best in his batting. It is remarkable that captaining a side that has fallen from the lofty Australian standards of years gone by has not had any conspicuous effect on his batting. Perhaps it has contributed to him taking it a notch higher. The batting crease is the only place he can carry his brashness to. Frankly, what would the best hooker and puller in the world be without that last ounce of brashness?

    Can Ponting bring that quality to a country that hasn’t been kind to his batting, with the added burden of leading an inexperienced line-up? For once he will get to put himself in Tendulkar’s shoes. In the 46 ODIs that these men have played against each other, Ponting has been on the winning side 28 times. In those 28 games, his average has risen from a career 43.16 to 52.6, an expected variation. But in the 15 games that Tendulkar has won, he has had to raise his game to an extent where his average goes from a career 44.48 to 84.28.

    Roles have changed slightly now. Tendulkar has Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni around him; Ponting makes his way in after an unsettled opening combination, and is followed by Michael Hussey, Cameron White and James Hopes.

    Even at their ages, and despite the presence of young dashers, these two men make for the most intriguing contest of the series. What’s more, Ponting has to lead a somewhat unfancied batting line-up in this series. It’s a combination that sometimes manages to get the worst out of them, and might just provide one of the separators in the Greatest of Our Time debate

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