The Beijing Olympics are over and India’s performance is there for all to see – Abhinav Bindra, Vijender Kumar and Shushil Kumar have done India proud. However, for a country with a population of over 1 billion, the medal tally is too meagre. Everyone has their own take on what ails Indian sports, but it was Kapil Dev who hit the nail bang on with his straight talk at the India Sports Marketing Forum.
ISMF 2008, organised by the exchange4media Group, was held in the Capital on September 12. The event was organised in association with the India Sports Equity Foundation and presented by Indian Cricket League (ICL) in association with e-sense. ISMF 2008 looked at the factors that made a difference to the way sports was seen in India. The ISMF was presented by Indian Cricket League (ICL) in association with e-sense.
In a country where cricket is a religion, and cricketers like MS Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar its current Gods, other sports like football, hockey, tennis, though popular, are just ‘by the way’.
So what ails Indian sports? Delivering the keynote address at the session on ‘Why sports, and why only cricket?’ cricketing legend Kapil Dev poured his heart out. He said, “We are more than 1 billion people, but only 3 per cent of us play sports. We love to see sports events, but we don’t play. However, with sports channels beaming different sports events from around the world 24x7, I am sure the next generation will definitely emerge as better sportspersons.”
Dev further said, “Being a cricketer, I understand the value of marketing sports, and I firmly believe that only people who have played the game understand its marketing. Sports in India is the only profession not run by sportspersons. In any other discipline, the first thing is to look for qualified personnel in each of these disciplines to run these organisations. For instance, banks are run by financial experts, scientific institutes are run by scientists, and so on. However, when it comes to sports, virtually every discipline in the country is run either by a politician or a bureaucrat or an industrialist or even police officers! That is the reason why sports has lagged behind. Only a person who has played the game will understand the trials and tribulations of that particular sports discipline.”
“ICL is the only organisation that deals with cricket and is run by a cricketer. The organisation of sports is the only factor that can put other sports on the map, and this can be done only by effective sports marketing. I strongly believe that the future of this country is sports,” Dev added.