Ground reality behind India’s Inferiority in Sports


“In India, we celebrate the successful person.” – Sunil Chhetri.

Indeed, and before landing the whole blame on the officials let us scrutinise our perceptions & realise to which sport is our morale associated. If there is a sport in your mind right now, then we don’t have the right to put all of the blame on officials, and we have to curb our ego a bit to share a little blame.

When India wins a cricket match, the whole country feels victorious, and this is how people should feel on the victory of a team representing their country, but what about other sports?

This is not to say that we (including myself) lack the fundamental emotion of supporting another sportsperson representing our country in a discus throw, but we do lack that element which makes us mourn when we lose a cricket match, instead of a hockey match.

We are a Nation of 1.2 billion people but it’s excruciating to say that we stand nowhere at the world stage in sports.

In 2016 Olympic Games, India won only 2 medals and ended at 67th position in the medal tally which is nothing short of being disgraceful for 2nd largest nation in the world and one of the fastest growing economies. Michael Phelps has won as many medals on his own as Team India has managed since 1900.

“India does not have a sports culture,” explains Boria Majumdar, a leading Indian sports scholar who’s authored numerous books on this topic. “Indian athletes who have achieved international success are exceptions and not the products of the country’s sports system,” he said.

The truth may be bitter, but it can’t be ignored. In our households, we focus only on how a child is studying and ignore the sports. But now there seems to be a change in the point of view, no matter how slow, in the common household. This can be justified by the growing numbers of female athletes in Indian sports. These ladies are out there proving their worth with a roar, and this is the only reason why only 2 medals in Rio Olympics 2016 hold a great importance in the India history of sports, as they were both earned by women.

Now let us not use the word BLAME, due to the extent of its negativity. And if we are to use that word, then let us use that in a positive way and try to look for the problems, then solutions.

One problem that is visible to us all, if not yet realised, is that a person is celebrated (with a huge sum of money) only when they are selected for the international level match, or if they managed to with a medal. But there is far less investment in identifying and nurturing the young talents of the country. As a result, many of those talents are flushed down which could have been representing our nation and winning the medals for our country.

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The study presented in SPLISS conference used a model of nine pillars that determine the effectiveness and efficiency of elite sports policies-

  • financial support,
  • structure and governance in elite sport,
  • sports participation
  • talent identification and development,
  • (post) athletic career support,
  • training facilities,
  • coach education and support,
  • (inter)national competition and
  • scientific research and innovation



1) The absence of sports hierarchy

The absence of sports hierarchy from grass root level to (inter)national level is another major concern with Indian sports. There is no appropriate mechanism to nurture the talent at school, block and district levels and then promote the talented athletes to state and national levels. As a result, many gifted athletes are not able to reach the topmost grade of sports and are lost.

  • The dearth of sports infrastructure at grass root level makes things worse.

As a solution, sports association should be established at ground level, which will not only be responsible for the nurturing of young talent at academic but will also run anti-doping awareness campaigns, overseas exposure, nutrition plan, fair and timely selection trials, etc.

2) A huge amount of money is required in contemporary sports which brings our attention to funding. In India, sports funding is inadequate as compared to global standards.

  • In the UK, funding of Olympic preparations is 4 times that of India. The UK, which finished third on the Rio medals tally, spent $350 million on 374 athletes, which is about $1 million per athlete, including infrastructure, training, and coaching.
  • The policy focuses on Olympics, but sports funding is declining. The number of recognized national sports federations has come down from 57 to 49, as of 2016, and their funding has fallen over the last three years. Of the amount spent on sports infrastructure and coaching, only 8% is spent on special coaching to athletes.
  • The Rs 22.7 crore ($ 3.5 million) spent for by NSDF on potential 109 Olympic athletes translates to Rs 5.2 lakh, or $9000, per athlete every year in the run-up to Olympics.
  • Athletes under the TOP scheme received Rs 9.8 lakh, or $16,000, per athlete every year, including the cost of training centres and coaching fees.
  • We spend only one-fourth of that of China does on sports.
  • In India, most of the funding comes from the government, whereas in the USA 90% of the funding is generated by private organisations. In the USA athletes generate their own money through private organisations.
  • Improving transparency in sports spending is the only way out along with providing more incentives to the corporate Technology can be exploited in this regard as a part of e-governance to put all the data online regarding sports budget, sponsorships, and spending.
  • Besides, all the sports associations should be brought under RTI.


  • In our households, we focus only on how a child is studying and ignore the sports.
  • in India, sport is not seen as a viable career option due to lack of remuneration and job security to athletes. As a result, parents hesitate to choose it as a profession for their child and focus more on academic excellence.

4) Doping is the latest setback to hit the Indian sports.

  • Indian athletes are usually from poorer backgrounds and may not have had access to education and therefore depend entirely on their coaches and supporting staff for making sure they do not consume prohibited substances. As a result, a number of times they unknowingly take prohibited substances as dietary supplements. m. A basic course should be introduced on ‘drugs and nutrition’ at the various academies and camps for all possible sporting events.

5) Administrative issues

Administrative issues are one of the prime concerns with Indian sports. There is no common code/rule/legislation/law for governing the administration (elections, funding, schedules and events, qualifications and time limit for different admin posts etc.) of different sports associations. These associations have their own constitutions and rules. As a result, they are neither transparent nor fair to athletes as well as officials.

  • For example- A tussle between Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) and Hockey India (HI) about which is the official governing body has caused enormous harm to Indian hockey including the worst ever show by Indian hockey in the Olympics with 12th and last position in 2012 Olympics.





  • International Journal of Research in Engineering, Social Sciences (ISSN 2249-9482) (Impact Factor: 4.16, Volume 5 Issue 1, January 2015). By- Mr Sat Pal, Assistant Professor of Physical Education, Govt. College, Chhachhrauli

2) Press release SPLISS

3) governments-funds-scheme-translated-into-medals.

4)– Lack of sporting culture.

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