When will we win?
Although Sales Professionals may find it useful too, the topic covered in this article is not from the Sales domain; however, the messages should be of relevance to them too. I wish to hear from Sales Professionals who read this article.
The much awaited London games are already underway – and most conversations these days involve the events and the winners; the glory, the agony, the determination and the effort involved. In India the discussions focus on our nation’s inability to discover champions. From the time I was in high school till now there have been 10 Olympic Games and the scene in 1976 was pretty much the same as what we have today – India fails to make a mark. A Bronze here, a Silver there and out of the blue, in 2008, a piece of Gold! In 2012 the search is still on.
We watch with admiration and envy as athletes from China, USA and even some very small nations perform with such competence and confidence and walk away with the medals – a 15 yr Lithuanian school kid swims her way to a Gold Medal and a Chinese 16 year old has already won 2 medals; athletes from nations that are mere specks on the map are able to strike Gold and a billion Indians seem incapable of anything. Our World No.1 ranked archer faded out even without putting up a fight.
I watched so many of the events featuring India – players seemed to give up from winning positions – two big medals hopes did not even get past the preliminary rounds. There was no fire in their performance or the will to give it their 100%.
I debated this earlier with my friends on Facebook and these are some of the messages received:
- Indian athletes don’t get access to world class training facilities
- The money received to train athletes are eaten by officials or used for other purposes
- Talent is not spotted early enough and groomed
- There is no program for development of athletics, like in China
- Cricket gets all the money and attention, not the other sports
- We are not built for athletics – it’s not in our genes
- Our athletes don’t get sufficient exposure on the world arena
- Parents need to invest time and money in developing their kids
- Parents need to push their kids to pursue sports other than cricket
- Our Government does not support development of Sports
While discussing the poor results with my brother, who works for a Government department, I got this feedback. His organisation employs many athletes and sportspersons based on performance at National events. They don’t have to compete with the regular job seeker to get a job – the expectation is that they will represent the organisation in sports. But within 1 to 3 years of joining, a majority of them would give up playing or performing and the ones who continue would usually be in poor physical condition because the energy that was displayed till they got the job is no longer present and they do not practice either. They were just going through the motions.
When asked, these people invariably say – “Why bother? Don’t we have a steady job?”
It wasn’t glory or achievement that was their focus; this was a short cut to a job. And so they remained mediocre or marginal performers. Some of them would represent India at Asian level or at the Olympics and lose in the preliminary stages. Why bother?
We can count on the fingers of one hand the number of Indian athletes who have made a mark at the world stage.
Yes, some of it has to do with the genes, some due to lack of opportunity, exposure and wee bit could be on account of lack political will to promote sports and athletics. But I believe that a lot of it has to do with our culture and the innate lack of interest.
Majority of the Indians sportspersons do no pursue sports because they love it. It’s not to display ability or to achieve glory they play the game – that is the last thing on their mind; it’s just a means to a secure life. The priority is this – “How can I beat the odds and overtake bulk of the population and get a life of comfort. Let me find a sponsor or get some endorsement money, put it away in a bank and then take it easy.”
Do we Indians as a culture like to work hard and go through the grind? Do we wish to push the limits and achieve levels of excellence? Do we have the attitude to take the fight to the other camp?
Killer instinct, aggression, daring, ability to recover from an adverse situation, perseverance and passion don’t seem to be a part of the Indian athlete’s lexicon.
I know there is talent in India, but there is no program to find and groom them. But all the achievers we have seen in various spheres got there in spite of the inconveniences and the pain – the path to glory was not a bed of rose for them. So it’s about the stuff you are made of and the environment that you grew up in. Malcolm Gladwell has spoken a lot about this in his book Outliers – I shall speak about that on another day.
Indian athletes need to stop worrying about the job and bread winning for now and get involved in sports for the right reasons – they need to go about with passion and with the image of themselves posing against the backdrop of the Indian tricolor shining bright in their mind.
Then they will start winning … only then!