How Hockey lost its Sheen to Cricket5 min read

Lets read a some headlines of newspapers  in a span of time

1936 :- Major Dhyanchand scores 3 goals and thus India wins its 3rd consecutive Olympic gold medal.

1956:- Indian Hockey team wins its 6th gold medal in Olympics.

 1979 :- Major Dhyanchand dies in AIIMS hospital un attented.World loses the wizard of Hockey.

2008:- Indian Hockey team does not even qualify for beijing Olympics.

2011 : Government raises questions as to why Major Dhyanchand should be awarded a Bharat Ratna.

This set of news tells the whole story that if the greatest player of world hockey shares this plight ,what sho8uld national level players expect.Well now the condition has worsen.

The players’ rebellion that recently crippled the national hockey camp for the World Cup is the real reflection of the state of Indian hockey. Players’ camps are like dormant volcanoes waiting to explode. Not only pending wages and promised incentives, senior stars were upset that the bigwigs were playing havoc with the life and careers of many players like the blinded goalkeeper, Baljeet Singh.

Hit by a golf ball in the eye during a training camp in Pune, Baljeet’s international career is on hold. The goalkeeper, who was India’s No. 1 till he lost vision ahead of the tour of Europe last year, is a classic example of official apathy and lack of governance.

Indian hockey Started in almost 1920.After this India was champion for
almost next 3 decades and had won 5 Olympic gold in a row.But the Indian stranglehold
over the Olympic gold came to an end when Pakistan defeated India in the final of 1960
Rome Olympics.Since then the team has not got any considerable success.As a result the
popularity of the game has decreased and today Indian hockey has reached its nadir.

The reason for the collapsing of the  game is not only the lack of talent in the  players,but also the emergence of the other  competitive teams like  Pakistan,Germany,Australia,etc.The other  reasons are: less coverage of the game by  media,it has become a game for a few  Indians.The game is also linked with  regionalism in between as the maximum  number of the players of the team belonged to  Punjab and Haryana. The ill-administration and politics are also the  reasons for the downfall of the sport.

When Indian hockey team was not performing well,it was the Indian cricket team doing good for the nation by not only winning several series but also becoming the number one team of the world.The people were automatically attracted towards the cricket.The cricket team was more strong,there were several advertisements made for its popularity,it started generating more revenue than hockey,there was a lot of media attention given to the game considering its popularity and the game got several sponsors unlike the Indian hockey team.
In India there is no other sport as hyped
as cricket.On top of it the involvement of the
famous faces of bollywood has made it more
glamorous.Though the celebrities are also
showing their involvement in hockey but it is
not enough.For instance,before the World Cup
earlier this year,there was an advertisement by
Hero Honda-“fir dil do hockey ko,hero honda
dhak dhak go”.In this ad,celebrities were
used.But the sad part was even the cricketers
were used to promote the game.But it is not
the same in case of cricket.Hockey players are
never used because people hardly know them
moreover cricket does not require much
advertisements as it is already hyped.
Hockey federation or the governing body has always failed to capitalize the situation and gather enough funds to provide infrastructure for the players, as infamously said even cows are ashamed of grazing on grounds our players get to play. Deep rooted corruption has charred the system and barred progress of the sport, recent K.P.S Gill- Jyothikumaran incident has left the game tottering on the verge of extinction in this country. Lack of encouragement and opportunities has evaded the eligible to take up hockey as a career option; moreover incidents like the 1982 Asian Games Final has dilapidated the situation. India’s 1-7 loss to Pakistan was treated with humiliation and then goal keeper Mir Ranjan Negi was clamored with criticism, in an interview with journalist Anand Philar after the event Negi expressed his anguish (excerpts of that interview: “Everywhere I went, I was abused by the public”). In those days no loss on the cricket field might have moved us in a similar manner. The reason for this lies in the fact that Hockey, more than any other game, was deeply etched in the Indian culture.
Unlike other sports, Hockey has a glorious past in India and basking on this glory has plagued the system with complacency. Who is responsible for this state of the sport? Should the government intervene as this is a national sport? Would a capable administration be sufficient to resurrect the situation? Answers to these questions may not suffice; a complete overhaul should be the mandate. Every aspect of the game involving infrastructure, selection process, fees and funds, coaching and non-coaching staff etc have to be upgraded to world-class level. Non-government run non-political federation, like Cricket’s BCCI, with a proper agenda and principles is the first pre-requisite, incentives and handsomely paying jobs are the minimal needs for a player, capable coaching and non-coaching staff marks the difference between winning and losing, and last but the most crucial element being sponsorship and media coverage. A conglomeration of all these factors can return Indian hockey to the pinnacle.
But now hopes have risen again,because Indian Hockey team has qualified for the 2012 London Olympics.Lets see If Hockey revives its past and pays a tribute to all of the Indian Hockey Superstars and also break the drought of 30 years of a gold medal. 

About the author

Abhijit Mahida

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