Why It’s Too Hard to Imagine a Career in Sports in India?

When one looks at the scoreboard telling us about the number of winners of different countries in Olympics, Commonwealth Games etc., they often find India somewhere in the last rows. If they try to make a list of games that India doesn’t participate in or doesn’t play, let’s just say the list won’t be empty; or in short, a career in sports in India is hard to imagine.

A country with the second largest population and many things to boast about doesn’t have much to speak in the sports department, cricket excluded. Why does “The Incredible” India struggle at sports? Why is a career in sports in India a risky affair? One can give many reasons but one of the major issues that highlight the struggle is pretty much cellular, i.e. it lies at the most basic level.

As kids, everyone loves sports, plays one or the other game and parents have no issue until they decide to turn it into a career. Not only that, but sometimes when children don’t have a clue about their potential, parents definitely won’t be the one to point it out. On growing up, if the child grows fonder of the sport and tries to reason with them, they will probably give a hundred advice or options that say ‘Sports, bye bye’.

career in sports

Academics is Compulsory

Keeping good grades and doing well in class is important, it grooms one for further obstacles to come. Secondary education is important for basic living. Yes, but with Indian parents, academics isn’t just important but compulsory. And not just secondary education but graduation level. Also, being an average student won’t do, one needs to be a topper or at the very least one of the top students in the class. So, if a child has dreams of becoming a sportsperson, they better keep good with their education, for sports is allowed only as long as you maintain your academic grades. If they start to go down, it’s not because the subject was a bit difficult but the child's all day being occupied with sports. With the amount of competition that India faces in the field of education today, the pressure on kids is immense. As a result, academic goals take the first bench leaving talent and interest to take a back seat.

Recommended Read: Privileged Childhood: A Birth Right of Every Child

career in sports

A Career in Sports? What Will “They,” Say?

Parents, most of the times worry less about their own hearts, their child’s heart and more about what “they” will say. “They” being neighbors, relatives, colleagues, basically everyone. To sum up, “they” mean ‘the society’. “Mr. Sharma’s son got admission in IIT and all you can do is worry about this stupid racquet”. If one takes up sports, it means they probably didn’t have better to do or were bad in academics. People will judge and criticize them. Not to mention the struggle increases if you are a girl. And tenfold, if the girl chooses to do something offbeat like gymnastics or wrestling, people automatically have an opinion of whether it will be good for you or not. What will she be wearing? Will she be working with male trainers? Oh, God! She wants to wear those tiny things and dance! Chill people! She just wants to be a gymnast.


career in sports
Female gymnast performing her floor exercise doing the splits in front of a large crowd — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Juggle Both or Leave Sports

Even if one is able to survive the relatives’ knowledge and society’s drama, it’s not over. For people who have been planning for their future since they were an embryo, sport just doesn’t fit. God! You just disrupted the perfect plan of your survival. But don’t worry, take a deep breath and wait for they will find a solution. 1, 2 minutes and here it is. You study and become something good (nope, sports doesn’t go into the category.) and along with it, also keep your sports spirit high. Basically, one has to juggle with their dual life which is sports and education.

Any alternative? Yes, leave sports. They do not mean to say that it is not good enough for you, just that a sportsperson probably would never compare to an academician. Also, sport is a risky field where very few make it big. Unless you are one of them, it doesn’t do much in money matters. So, get a good degree at least to back you up.

career in sports

Parents’ encouragement is very important for a child, as their faith in them brings them half close to the goal. But given that the parents are a lot worried about their kids’ future and would love to see them settled good, they go to different lengths in securing a ‘safe’ future. Little do they know that a safe future doesn’t keep anyone happy, but a work of one’s choice does. Nonetheless, India will keep struggling at sports until parents overcome their own fear of their child’s future and encourage them to live their dreams.

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